Domestic violence (often called 'family violence') can include physical, verbal, sexual or emotional abuse. Children who witness regular acts of violence have greater emotional and behavioural problems than other children. Even very young children can be profoundly frightened and affected.
Contrary to popular belief, witnessing episodes of violence between people they love can affect young children as much as if they were the victims of the violence.
The department provides support services for people who have experienced violence and offers violence prevention programs through the following services:
- Family violence prevention and support services – early intervention services and post-crisis support
- Indigenous family violence strategy – a community led initiative to develop a whole of government response to family violence in Indigenous communities. It is jointly managed by Aboriginal Affairs Victoria, the department and the Office of Women's Policy
- Men's behaviour change programs – promoting the safety of women and children and helping men to be accountable and responsible to family members, and encouraging change in men’s behaviour
- Sexual assault support services – include crisis care responses, counselling, casework, group-work, advocacy and a statewide after-hours telephone crisis service
- Sexually abusive behaviour treatment services – for children and young people under the age of 15 years who display problem sexual behaviour or sexually abusive behaviour towards others
- Court advocacy and referral – for women seeking intervention orders and support to children to improve their coping skills.
Services provided include individual counselling, specialised support groups and referral services. These services aim to promote early intervention strategies to prevent the occurrence or escalation of family violence, and prevent future occurrences of family violence by offering post crisis support.
Family violence referral protocol between the Department of Human Services and Victoria Police
The Family violence referral protocol between the Department of Human Services and Victoria Police 2012-14 provides guidance on how Victoria Police, the Department of Human Services and the service agencies it funds can work together to strengthen the collective response to family violence.
The aim of this protocol is to document effective referral pathways between Victoria Police and family violence services funded by the Department of Human Services so women and children are better protected and family violence is reduced over time.
It outlines the approaches for:
- formal and informal referrals by police for victims of family violence to family violence services
- assessing the risk to any child or children or young person present at a family violence incident, and referring that child to appropriate support services
- formal and informal referrals by police of perpetrators of family violence to services and emergency accommodation if required
- referral by family violence support agencies for police assistance.
Assessing children and young people experiencing family violence – A practice guide for family violence practitioners
This practice guide aims to support family violence professionals to assess the safety and needs of unborn children, infants, children and young people affected by family violence.
The guide will assist family violence professionals to:
- structure, streamline and enhance their organisation’s practice to support the safety, stability and healthy development of every child
- strengthen their collaboration with colleagues in family services and child protection in line with the objectives of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005.
Download the practice guide.
Victoria's action plan to address violence against women and children – Everyone has a responsibility to act
The central tenet of the Action plan is that violence against women and children in any form, in any circumstance and in any community is unacceptable.
Launched on 9 October 2012, the plan reflects the government’s commitment to preventing violence happening, holding perpetrators to account for their actions and providing support to women and children who experience violence.
The government is investing $90 million in 2012-2013, which will fund a range of prevention, early intervention and response measures.
For further information see the Action plan webpage.
Good practice – working together to support children and young people experiencing family violence
A key feature of the policy reforms for both the Victorian child and family services sector and the family violence sector has been the establishment of multi-service approaches that work together to more effectively meet the needs of children and young people.
This publication draws together a collection of case studies that highlight how practitioners from child protection, Child FIRST, Integrated family services and family violence services can effectively work together to improve outcomes for children and young people experiencing family violence.
For further information download the Good practice publication.
Family violence risk assessment and risk management framework
Family violence risk assessment and risk management framework (also known as the common risk assessment framework) training was developed to increase the capacity of professionals, such as health workers, family violence service providers and court workers, to more effectively identify and respond to women and children experiencing family violence.
Men's behaviour change programs
Men's behaviour change programs play an important role in promoting the safety of women and children. These programs focus on making men accountable and responsible for their violence toward family members. The purpose of these programs is to encourage the change process in men's behaviour and they provide a forum for exploring and challenging beliefs.
- Framework for comprehensive assessment in men's behaviour change
- Enhancing access to mens behaviour change program
Adolescent Family Violence Service
The Adolescent Family Violence Service aims to reduce adolescent family violence and increase the safety of all impacted family members through the provision of a family-based case management, providing support to young people using violence against a parent or carer. Read more about Adolescent Family Violence Service.
- Family Violence - Housing Assistance
Department of Human Services funded family violence services have been working in partnership to provide a more integrated response to family violence.
- Disability and Family Violence Crisis Response
The Disability and Family Violence Crisis Response initiative assists Victorian women and children with a disability who are experiencing family violence. It includes support to access family violence crisis accommodation or support to remain safe in their own home.