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Jenny's Story

Jenny Mikakos
For children and parents who are the victims of family violence, we can and must do better. It’s time to end the vicious cycle of family violence and give every person in Victoria an opportunity to feel safe and secure.

Like many Victorians I was born into a working class migrant family. Coming from this background, I have seen the difficulties that some families in our community face including family violence, poverty and limited access to education.

My parents taught me that you never give up and that you should be fearless in what you want to achieve, especially in giving back to the community and making a contribution. I feel extremely lucky to have had a supportive family who encouraged me to go to school and I was the first in my family to get a university degree.

Because of my upbringing I am a big believer in giving back to the community and I think that when you feel strongly about making a difference and you have an understanding of the issues then you have an obligation to do something about it.

I have always had a strong interest in social justice which led me to becoming a Member of Parliament in 1999 so that I could help bring about change. I had the honour of being appointed the Minister for Families and Children in December 2014 and since then I have been working to transform the social services system so that it better supports vulnerable Victorian children, young people and their families.

Change starts with understanding the issues surrounding family violence and the challenges we have to face to overcome it. It’s been important for me to start making change from my first day in office.

The Royal Commission into Family Violence painted a stark picture of the impact of family violence on children and young people and on their family relationships. The findings and personal stories shared during the inquiry gave us a clear path forward and earlier this year I released the Victorian Government’s Roadmap for Reform, a once-in-a-generation chance to overhaul our child protection and family services system. I am determined that we can help children and families impacted by family violence to access the right support to make them feel safe and secure.

I want to create child and family services system that no longer focuses on responding to crisis, but instead on prevention and early intervention. All vulnerable families and children to be able to access the right support, when they need it.

Transforming the social services system will not be easy and we must do all we can to bring about change and end the scourge of family violence.

I think things will change if Governments, services and communities come together in a whole-of-community approach to prevent the damage caused by family violence and to support our children and young people to develop and reach their full potential. We will only achieve change if we share a collective responsibility to prevent the damage caused by family violence and support those who need it most.

I want to see change because I think every child deserves to have a safe and loving home. Protecting children and supporting families as early as possible, gives kids the best chance to grow up healthier, form positive relationships and lead better lives.

For children and parents who are the victims of family violence, we can and must do better. It’s time to end the vicious cycle of family violence and give every person in Victoria an opportunity to feel safe and secure.

Jenny Mikakos is the Minister for Families and Children and the Minister for Youth Affairs.