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A note on language and terminology

The word family has many different meanings. This report uses the definition from the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (FVPA), which encompasses the variety of relationships and structures that can make up a family unit and the range of ways family violence can be experienced, including through family-like or carer relationships, including non-institutional paid carer environments.

The term family violence reflects the FVPA definition and includes the wider understanding of the term across all communities, including those identifying as Aboriginal.

Family violence is deeply gendered – overwhelmingly, most perpetrators are men and most victim survivors are women and children. It is acknowledged that broader conceptions of gender-drivers apply to individuals’ identities, experiences and manifestations of family violence. Therefore, this document does not use gendered language to describe every form of family violence.

In line with the Royal Commission and FVISS Guidelines, this document refers to victim survivors and perpetrators. The term victim survivor includes adults and children. We recognise that Aboriginal people and communities may prefer to use the terms ‘people who use violence’ and ‘people who experience violence’.

Throughout this document, the term Aboriginal is used to refer to both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

For adolescents, we use the term ‘adolescent who uses family violence’. This reflects that this is a form of family violence requiring distinct responses, given the age of the young person and their concurrent safety and developmental needs, as well as common co-occurrence of past or current experience of family violence by the adolescent from other family members

An older person who is experiencing family violence is often described as experiencing ‘elder abuse’.

Intersectionality describes how systems and structures interact on multiple levels to oppress, create barriers and overlapping forms of discrimination, stigma and power imbalances based on characteristics such as Aboriginality, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, colour, nationality, refugee or asylum seeker background, migration or visa status, language, religion, ability, age, mental health, socioeconomic status, housing status, geographic location, medical record or criminal record. This compounds the risk of experiencing family violence and creates additional barriers for a person to access the help they need.

Reviewed 18 February 2021

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