Youthlaw comment on the Royal Commission into Family Violence Report (released 1 April 2016)
We congratulate the Commission on their report. It is comprehensive, very practical and has the potential to significantly change the lives of children and young people in Victoria.
We commend the Andrews government for agreeing to fund & implement all of the Royal Commission recommendations. The challenge is there for federal and state leaders to take a similar stand. We support a dedicated family violence item in the federal and state government budgets and a state levy.
For child and youth victims we strongly support recommendations to substantially increase available therapeutic programs and counselling for child and youth victims of family violence and that such support should not be of short duration but for as long as required. The Commission has recognised that they have been largely left to deal with family violence themselves and that the service response to their needs have been totally inadequate. Our own experience is that young people repeatedly say they told no-one or were never asked about it.
We support recommendations that require police and child protection to pay attention to the views and needs of children and young people involved.
We support funding of supportive accommodation and support services for those young people who have become homeless due to family violence.
We applaud recognition that young people using violence themselves require a different and specialist response. Many are victims of family violence themselves and/or have been exposed to dysfunctional & violent family members. They are also still developing and forming their attitudes and behaviours. We strongly support recommendations for increased programs and interventions with a therapeutic focus that address their violence and what underpins it.
We strongly support preventative education for young people as we know that the attitudes of young people to family violence, gender roles and intimacy will also impact on their intimate relationships and their parenting.
The Royal Commission has collated a great evidence base on the impacts of family violence. For children the impacts include their safety, impaired development and cumulative harm. For young people the impacts include greater vulnerability to poor physical & mental health, substance abuse, poor life skills, homelessness &unemployment.
Ignoring the needs of children and young people experiencing family violence will have major long term impacts not only for these individuals but for society in general.
Please see our summary of relevant recommendations for children and young people here.
Ariel Couchman, Director of Youthlaw
Work: (03) 9113 9500
Mobile: 0438 812 937