Exposure to Family Violence
Children and young people who have been exposed to family violence in the ACT.
What do we measure?
The number of children and young people aged 24 years or younger who have been exposed to family violence in the ACT.
Why is this important?
Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) is a significant and pervasive social, welfare and public health issue 73 that has serious, far-reaching and costly impacts for individuals, families, communities and governments.
Research has demonstrated that childhood exposure to DFV or sexual violence can lead to an increased risk of poor developmental outcomes.74 Children exposed to family violence are often 'forgotten, unacknowledged and silent victims'.
According to the 2016 Personal Safety Survey, one in eight women witnessed violence towards their mother by a partner before the age of 15 (13% or 1.2 million). These women were more than twice as likely to experience partner violence (after the age of 15) than women who had not witnessed violence towards their mother by a partner (34% compared to 15%).
Around one in three women who experienced abuse before the age of 15 experienced partner violence as an adult (36%). These women were nearly three times more likely to experience partner violence as an adult than women who had not experienced abuse before the age of 15 (36% compared to 13%).75
The information obtained from this indicator is important to improve outcomes for the safety and wellbeing of children and young people and to prevent, intervene early and reduce the impact of domestic and family violence in the ACT.76
Family violence: Domestic/family violence (DFV) occurs when a person is violent or abusive towards someone with whom they have some type of 'family relationship'.
It is not limited to relationships between husbands, wives and their children. It also includes violence between defacto couples, boyfriends and girlfriends, gay and lesbian couples and the extended family (relatives) of those couples including stepchildren and adopted children.77
The types of violence include physical violence or abuse; sexual violence or abuse; emotional or psychological abuse; economic abuse; threatening behaviour; coercion or any other behaviour that controls or dominates and/or causes someone to feel fear for their safety or wellbeing of the family member or another person.78
In the 2016-17 and 2017-18 ACT Budgets, the ACT Government committed to a range of investments under the Safer Families Package,79 to provide funding for reforms to address family violence, including the establishment of the Office for Coordinator General for Family Safety and the Family Safety Hub, and training on domestic/family violence for front line workers.
Under the Children and Young People's Commitment 2015-2025, the ACT Government implemented the ACT Prevention of Violence against Women and Children Strategy 2011-2017 and continues to maintain focus on the prevention of domestic and family violence in the ACT.
How is the ACT Progressing?
Table 58: Number of ACT 0-24 year old victims of family violence-related offences, 2014-17 (calendar year)
Source: ACT PROMIS Data Dashboard as at 23 August 2018.
Note Age groups may differ from those previously published due to data revisions.
In 2017, the number of ACT children and young people aged 0-24 years who were reported as being a victim of family violence related offences was 554. This was an increase of 50.5 per cent from 2014 (368) and a slight decrease from 2016 (558).
Table 59: Number and proportion (%) of ACT child protection reports, which are appraised and where family domestic violence is present, or the primary cause of harm, 2015-18
No. of child protection reports appraised (investigated)
family/domestic violence present*
family/domestic violence primary harm^
Source: Non-published administrative data. * Family/domestic violence present means: family violence was included in the initial report. ^ Family/domestic violence primary harm means: the primary focus of the report was family violence.
73 John W Fantuzzo and Wanda K Mohr 1999, ‘Prevalence and Efects of Child Exposure to Domestic Violence’, The Future of Children (Winter 1999), Vol. 9, No. 3, p.23. Domestic Violence and Children.
74 Campo M 2015, ‘Children’s exposure to domestic and family violence: key issues and responses’, Child Family Community Australia paper no. 36. Melbourne: AIFS
75 Australian Government Department of Social Services 2018, National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Their Children: Fourth Action Plan (2019–22) Draft Background and Evidence.
76 ACT Government 2015, ACT Children and Young People’s Commitment 2015–2025, priority 4.
77 ACT Policing 2013, Pocketbook guide for victims of crime
78 ACT Community Services Common Dataset79 Safer Families package, Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development.