The effect of domestic violence on children

Roundtable outcomes

The Summit roundtables identified a number of key insights and suggested actions, summarised below.

Key insights identified by roundtable participants

  • Children should be at the centre of system design and services must be attuned to their needs, as well as be developmentally and culturally appropriate. The views of children and young people need to shape the parts of the system that affect them.

  • Children should be provided with child-focused and trauma-informed services to better address their needs, which differ to those of adults.
  • Data should better capture the impact of domestic violence on children.

  • Commonwealth, state and territory systems of child protection and domestic violence should be brought together to ensure the needs of children are met.

  • Information sharing protocols and standards should be established across state, territory and Commonwealth service systems and, at a broader level, the intersections between the systems need to be mapped.

  • Front line service providers should be educated about trauma-informed approaches and the impact of domestic violence on children

  • Different approaches are required in rural and regional areas.

  • Refuge services should cater for boy children as well as girl children.

  • The intersection between the Commonwealth and state child protection systems and family law systems should be mapped in order toimprove information sharing and collaboration between systems to better identify the needs of, and support children.

A number of contributions to the online roundtables have also been received. Those contributions are still being reviewed but some of the main themes and ideas highlighted include:

  • Collaboration is needed across child protection, family law and domestic violence sectors, as well as across jurisdictions, to provide timely and adequate responses to children.

  • All jurisdictions should examine existing child risk assessment practices to build a common framework that supports cross-jurisdictional and interagency collaboration to respond to risk.

  • There is a need to acknowledge the impact of trauma as a result of domestic violence on children’s development and that trauma has long term implications.

  • Child-focused approaches within a framework of early intervention and prevention are also required, and could include prevention programs within schools.

  • Ongoing training for professionals, such as police, court and judicial officers, service providers is required so that all services are equipped to recognise and respond properly to children experiencing domestic violence.

  • Raising awareness of the impact of domestic violence on children and young people will help to make it easier for children to recognise and disclose domestic violence. In addition, providing multiple avenues for children to disclose abuse is crucial.

  • The rate of domestic violence against children with disability needs to be recognised in developing responses to children more broadly.


Discussion paper authored by New South Wales in preparation for COAG National Summit

Background


The negative impact of domestic and family violence is well recognised, including in relation to children. Children may experience domestic and family violence as direct victims, bystanders or as witnesses - they may be used as weapons, forced to watch or participate, encouraged to spy, be blamed and required to intervene to stop the violence.[1] Children may be exposed to domestic violence from birth or in utero, with pregnancy noted as being a time of increased risk of violence for women.[2] For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, the risk of exposure to domestic and family violence is far greater.


Children who are exposed to domestic and family violence can have higher rates and increased risk of:

  • intentional self-harm and suicide;
  • experiencing emotional, physical and sexual abuse;
  • entering into the out of home care system; and
  • coming into contact with the juvenile justice system.[3]

Young people often have distinct experiences of domestic and family violence compared to those of women and children and are more vulnerable to poor mental and sexual health outcomes, homelessness and unemployment. Young people are also at greater risk of falling between service system gaps due to being considered ‘too old’ for child protection services but too young to access domestic and family violence services in their own right.[4]

While there has been an increased focus on preventing and responding to domestic and family violence, it has historically focused on women or women and their children and subsequently, the unique needs of children in their own right have not been adequately recognised. As a signatory to the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, Australia is required to ensure that vulnerable and marginalised groups of children are protected, the best interests of children are prioritised, the views of children are respected; andprevention measures consider the impact of family and domestic violence in terms of children’s development.[5]

There is a need to do more to respond to children living with violence. Key action areas include:

  • identifying and addressing service gaps and building capacity to respond to the impacts of violence on children;
  • improving information sharing mechanisms between relevant agencies for children exposed to domestic violence; and
  • using emerging technology to give age-appropriate information to children who are exposed to, or are at risk of, violence.

This complements the existing objectives outlined in the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020and strategies outlined in its Third Action Plan including:

  • improving access to evidence based family support services, especially for expectant, new and vulnerable parents where alcohol and other drug, mental health, and domestic and family violence issues combine; and
  • implementing joined up responses for families with young children, across agencies and sectors, with a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

This roundtable will focus on the early intervention and prevention of domestic and family violence on children and young people and the factors that need to be considered to meet the specific needs of children when developing tools and resources. Discussion will also focus on increasing accountability through engagement with perpetrators.

Issues

In addition to the work in train through the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022 and National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020, the findings of other key reports including the National Children’s Commissioner’s Children’s Rights Report 2015 and the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence identify other areas specific to children that would benefit from a greater focus. These include:

  • improved data collection to better understand the impact of domestic and family violence on vulnerable cohorts of children, supported by nationally consistent terminology[6]
  • research to better understand the effects of sibling violence, child to child and teen intimate partner violence
  • better understanding of the factors that mitigate the impacts of domestic and family violence and promote resilience[7]
  • parenting programs that include a focus on perpetrators of domestic and family violence
  • greater recognition of the importance of prevention through school and community based programs (from: antenatal to postnatal; 3-5 years; school age and young people), timely secondary interventions and tailored tertiary therapeutic interventions to help the child recover and restore important relationships.

There is also an opportunity to think more broadly about how services are delivered to children and young people, how they can be engaged in decision-making processes relevant to their safety and wellbeing and that reflect the diversity of their experience.


[1]Australian Institute of Family Studies 2014, Children affected by domestic and family violence – A review of domestic and family violence prevention, early intervention and response services, http://www.women.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/file/0014/300623/PDF-6_Final_Report_Children_affected.pdf

[2] Australian Institute of Criminology 2011, Children’s exposure to domestic violence in Australia, http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/current%20series/tandi/401-420/tandi419.html

[3] Australian Human Rights Commission 2015, The Children’s Rights Report 2015, https://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/AHRC_ChildrensRights_Report_2015_0.pdf

[4] State of Victoria 2016, Royal Commission into Family Violence: Summary and recommendations, Parl Paper No.132 (2014-16), http://files.rcfv.com.au/Reports/Final/RCFV-All-Volumes.pdf

[5] Australian Human Rights Commission 2015, The Children’s Rights Report 2015, https://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/AHRC_ChildrensRights_Report_2015_0.pdf

[6] Australian Human Rights Commission 2015, The Children’s Rights Report 2015, https://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/AHRC_ChildrensRights_Report_2015_0.pdf

[7]Australian Human Rights Commission 2015, The Children’s Rights Report 2015, https://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/AHRC_ChildrensRights_Report_2015_0.pdf



Discussion questions


  • What innovative approaches to early intervention and prevention can be adopted which specifically address the impacts of domestic and family violence on children and young people?
  • How can we increase engagement with perpetrators to keep them accountable for their use of violence and the effects of that violence on child victims?
  • What other factors should be considered in the development of tools and resources (including common risk assessment frameworks) to meet the specific needs of children who have experienced domestic and family violence including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children?




Contribute to the online roundtable discussion


We want to hear your thoughts about the effect of domestic violence on children.

You can submit your ideas using the form below. For more information please see the About the Summit page or About online roundtables.


Roundtable outcomes

The Summit roundtables identified a number of key insights and suggested actions, summarised below.

Key insights identified by roundtable participants

  • Children should be at the centre of system design and services must be attuned to their needs, as well as be developmentally and culturally appropriate. The views of children and young people need to shape the parts of the system that affect them.

  • Children should be provided with child-focused and trauma-informed services to better address their needs, which differ to those of adults.
  • Data should better capture the impact of domestic violence on children.

  • Commonwealth, state and territory systems of child protection and domestic violence should be brought together to ensure the needs of children are met.

  • Information sharing protocols and standards should be established across state, territory and Commonwealth service systems and, at a broader level, the intersections between the systems need to be mapped.

  • Front line service providers should be educated about trauma-informed approaches and the impact of domestic violence on children

  • Different approaches are required in rural and regional areas.

  • Refuge services should cater for boy children as well as girl children.

  • The intersection between the Commonwealth and state child protection systems and family law systems should be mapped in order toimprove information sharing and collaboration between systems to better identify the needs of, and support children.

A number of contributions to the online roundtables have also been received. Those contributions are still being reviewed but some of the main themes and ideas highlighted include:

  • Collaboration is needed across child protection, family law and domestic violence sectors, as well as across jurisdictions, to provide timely and adequate responses to children.

  • All jurisdictions should examine existing child risk assessment practices to build a common framework that supports cross-jurisdictional and interagency collaboration to respond to risk.

  • There is a need to acknowledge the impact of trauma as a result of domestic violence on children’s development and that trauma has long term implications.

  • Child-focused approaches within a framework of early intervention and prevention are also required, and could include prevention programs within schools.

  • Ongoing training for professionals, such as police, court and judicial officers, service providers is required so that all services are equipped to recognise and respond properly to children experiencing domestic violence.

  • Raising awareness of the impact of domestic violence on children and young people will help to make it easier for children to recognise and disclose domestic violence. In addition, providing multiple avenues for children to disclose abuse is crucial.

  • The rate of domestic violence against children with disability needs to be recognised in developing responses to children more broadly.


Discussion paper authored by New South Wales in preparation for COAG National Summit

Background


The negative impact of domestic and family violence is well recognised, including in relation to children. Children may experience domestic and family violence as direct victims, bystanders or as witnesses - they may be used as weapons, forced to watch or participate, encouraged to spy, be blamed and required to intervene to stop the violence.[1] Children may be exposed to domestic violence from birth or in utero, with pregnancy noted as being a time of increased risk of violence for women.[2] For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, the risk of exposure to domestic and family violence is far greater.


Children who are exposed to domestic and family violence can have higher rates and increased risk of:

  • intentional self-harm and suicide;
  • experiencing emotional, physical and sexual abuse;
  • entering into the out of home care system; and
  • coming into contact with the juvenile justice system.[3]

Young people often have distinct experiences of domestic and family violence compared to those of women and children and are more vulnerable to poor mental and sexual health outcomes, homelessness and unemployment. Young people are also at greater risk of falling between service system gaps due to being considered ‘too old’ for child protection services but too young to access domestic and family violence services in their own right.[4]

While there has been an increased focus on preventing and responding to domestic and family violence, it has historically focused on women or women and their children and subsequently, the unique needs of children in their own right have not been adequately recognised. As a signatory to the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child, Australia is required to ensure that vulnerable and marginalised groups of children are protected, the best interests of children are prioritised, the views of children are respected; andprevention measures consider the impact of family and domestic violence in terms of children’s development.[5]

There is a need to do more to respond to children living with violence. Key action areas include:

  • identifying and addressing service gaps and building capacity to respond to the impacts of violence on children;
  • improving information sharing mechanisms between relevant agencies for children exposed to domestic violence; and
  • using emerging technology to give age-appropriate information to children who are exposed to, or are at risk of, violence.

This complements the existing objectives outlined in the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020and strategies outlined in its Third Action Plan including:

  • improving access to evidence based family support services, especially for expectant, new and vulnerable parents where alcohol and other drug, mental health, and domestic and family violence issues combine; and
  • implementing joined up responses for families with young children, across agencies and sectors, with a focus on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

This roundtable will focus on the early intervention and prevention of domestic and family violence on children and young people and the factors that need to be considered to meet the specific needs of children when developing tools and resources. Discussion will also focus on increasing accountability through engagement with perpetrators.

Issues

In addition to the work in train through the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022 and National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020, the findings of other key reports including the National Children’s Commissioner’s Children’s Rights Report 2015 and the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence identify other areas specific to children that would benefit from a greater focus. These include:

  • improved data collection to better understand the impact of domestic and family violence on vulnerable cohorts of children, supported by nationally consistent terminology[6]
  • research to better understand the effects of sibling violence, child to child and teen intimate partner violence
  • better understanding of the factors that mitigate the impacts of domestic and family violence and promote resilience[7]
  • parenting programs that include a focus on perpetrators of domestic and family violence
  • greater recognition of the importance of prevention through school and community based programs (from: antenatal to postnatal; 3-5 years; school age and young people), timely secondary interventions and tailored tertiary therapeutic interventions to help the child recover and restore important relationships.

There is also an opportunity to think more broadly about how services are delivered to children and young people, how they can be engaged in decision-making processes relevant to their safety and wellbeing and that reflect the diversity of their experience.


[1]Australian Institute of Family Studies 2014, Children affected by domestic and family violence – A review of domestic and family violence prevention, early intervention and response services, http://www.women.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/file/0014/300623/PDF-6_Final_Report_Children_affected.pdf

[2] Australian Institute of Criminology 2011, Children’s exposure to domestic violence in Australia, http://www.aic.gov.au/publications/current%20series/tandi/401-420/tandi419.html

[3] Australian Human Rights Commission 2015, The Children’s Rights Report 2015, https://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/AHRC_ChildrensRights_Report_2015_0.pdf

[4] State of Victoria 2016, Royal Commission into Family Violence: Summary and recommendations, Parl Paper No.132 (2014-16), http://files.rcfv.com.au/Reports/Final/RCFV-All-Volumes.pdf

[5] Australian Human Rights Commission 2015, The Children’s Rights Report 2015, https://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/AHRC_ChildrensRights_Report_2015_0.pdf

[6] Australian Human Rights Commission 2015, The Children’s Rights Report 2015, https://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/AHRC_ChildrensRights_Report_2015_0.pdf

[7]Australian Human Rights Commission 2015, The Children’s Rights Report 2015, https://www.humanrights.gov.au/sites/default/files/AHRC_ChildrensRights_Report_2015_0.pdf



Discussion questions


  • What innovative approaches to early intervention and prevention can be adopted which specifically address the impacts of domestic and family violence on children and young people?
  • How can we increase engagement with perpetrators to keep them accountable for their use of violence and the effects of that violence on child victims?
  • What other factors should be considered in the development of tools and resources (including common risk assessment frameworks) to meet the specific needs of children who have experienced domestic and family violence including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children?




Contribute to the online roundtable discussion


We want to hear your thoughts about the effect of domestic violence on children.

You can submit your ideas using the form below. For more information please see the About the Summit page or About online roundtables.


  • Share your views

    Please limit your submission to 300 words. You are also welcome to upload videos or sound recordings.

    Your views may be presented to Summit participants in summary, in part or in full. They may also be used in any publication produced by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, or the Queensland Department of the Premier and Cabinet following the Summit.

    Please limit your submission to 300 words. You are also welcome to upload videos or sound recordings.

    Your views may be presented to Summit participants in summary, in part or in full. They may also be used in any publication produced by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, or the Queensland Department of the Premier and Cabinet following the Summit.

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