Children and young people as victim survivors
The changes we are making in Victoria recognise the distinct needs of children and young people as victim survivors of family violence in their own right, and the cumulative harm that living with family violence creates.
We’re building a system in which children and young people will be able to access information, support and safety when and where they need it. We know we still have a lot of work to do.
Natasha Anderson, now a young adult, was a member of the inaugural Victim Survivors' Advisory Council. In 2019, Natasha wrote, illustrated, narrated and directed an animation of her experience growing up with family violence.
Her story tells us of the cumulative and devastating effects of family violence on children and young people and her family’s experiences of the system.
Listening to and validating their lived experience will help us build a better system for our children, which prioritises their safety and supports child victim survivors to ultimately thrive.
Natasha’s award-nominated film is shared with her permission. It is a powerful reminder for us to heed the voice of children.Tash - A short film by Natasha Anderson
Progress since 2016
The Royal Commission found that children and young people had been the 'silent victims' of family violence, but this was shifting. It also found resources were insufficient and not tailored to meet the distinct needs of children and young victim survivors.
Since 2016, significant progress has been made in strengthening our response. The foundations are being put in place that enable children and young people to be recognised as victim survivors in their own right and to drive change across all the places where children and young people interact with the system.
- MARAM, Victoria’s family violence risk assessment framework, has been designed with children as victim survivors in their own right. This means that the risk assessment tools, safety plans, practice guides and training are in place to assess and work with children and young people as victim survivors.
- Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme and the Child Information Sharing Scheme (CISS) prioritise the rights of children and their safety over any person’s right to privacy, promoting wellbeing and preventing the potentially devastating consequences of not sharing information.
The Orange Door network
- The Orange Door network is bringing together family violence, child and family and perpetrator services. This enables the system to take a whole of family approach which considers the individual needs of all family members, including children and young people.
- Victoria Police are asking questions specific to children and young people when responding to incidents. They are improving their consistency in referring children and young people to services and ensuring children are consistently recorded as protected persons on family violence protection notices.
- Court Support 4 Kids is a trauma-informed service which has been made available at some courts for victim survivors with children.
- Upgrades to the database enable child protection practitioners and practitioners in The Orange Door to search historical Victoria Police family violence (L17) reports back to August 2004.
- The Preventing the Cycle of Violence Fund and Community Initiatives Fund have supported a number of trauma informed and strengths based initiatives specifically targeted to at-risk and vulnerable Aboriginal children and young people.
- Therapeutic interventions, flexible support,and counselling for children and young people is provided to keep children and young people safe and to support them to recover from their experience of family violence and sexual assault.
Delivery to 2023
More needs to be done to meet the needs of children and young victim survivors and to ensure their voice is heard. Building on the foundations, the focus over the next three years will be to continue to drive a consistent approach across the whole system. This includes:
- continued delivery of reform initiatives, including The Orange Door network
- delivery of evidence-based therapeutic support
- delivery of core and cluster refuges
- collecting data and evidence to inform the design and delivery of services
CISS allows authorised organisations to share information to support child wellbeing and safety and is being rolled out in alignment with FVISS and MARAM.
When Phase 2 of MARAM and CISS is rolled out, education workforces including education and care services will be prescribed under the CISS.
The video provides a perspective on how child information sharing will benefit children.Child Information Sharing - How sharing can make the difference
Adolescents who use violence
Adolescents who use violence in the home are a distinct group where the approach to intervention is not the same as it would be for an adult perpetrator. Young people who use violence against a family member are often also themselves victim survivors.
The justice system and the police response recognise their legal status as minors and the complex circumstances and factors over which they may have had little or no control and which might have contributed to their behaviour.
The Royal Commission said that adolescent violence in the home needed to be better recognised and understood and better resourced. The wellbeing of the young person who is using violence should be the prime consideration: diversionary and therapeutic responses are considered preferable to any punitive interventions available.
Approach to adolescents who use violence
Adolescents who use violence in the home is a complex issue and requires a different approach from traditional interventions available to victim survivors and perpetrators of family violence.
Since the Royal Commission, we have been building the evidence base for intensive and early intervention approaches for adolescents who use violence.