Addressing Family Violence

‘Addressing Family Violence’ is one of the C4C Bendigo’s four priority outcome areas. Currently. the vast majority of supports and services available to support people experiencing family violence are directed at adults.

C4C has identified a significant gap in services and resources available to support children experiencing family violence. As such, the C4C Bendigo Reference Committee committed to developing an Early Years Family Violence Action Plan, which aims to build linkages between early years services and specialist family violence services, in order to build the capacity of the early year’s sector to support children experiencing family violence.

Early Years Family Violence Action Plan

Child development, health and safety can be notably encumbered when a child experiences family violence. Signalling a high level of seriousness and concern, children living with family violence are at risk of longer term negative impacts on their overall wellbeing, physical and mental health, educational attainment, and employment outcomes. Children are impacted by either their direct experience of violence, or indirectly by witnessing or fearing violence occurring.

The 2011 State of Victoria’s Children Report states that in regional areas the percentage of children and young people who are present and witness family violence is consistently higher compared to metropolitan areas. In the Loddon Mallee region the estimated number of cases of family violence where children were present, for the 2012/2013 (to end April) period, was 560. Given the increasing number of reported family violence incidents in Bendigo each year (1165 in 2011/12) we can assume there are an increasing number of children being exposed to and experiencing the effects of family violence.

Through a commitment to addressing family violence, the Communities for Children (C4C) Bendigo initiative believe it critical that the Early Years sector play a role in helping address family violence and its impact on children so they may have the best possible start in life. It is within this context that C4C Bendigo initiated the development of an Early Years Family Violence Action Plan.

This Early Years Family Violence Action Plan recognises the need to place children front and centre of any efforts to address family violence. It focuses on children’s experience and ways children can be protected from the effects of family violence. The ultimate aim of this initiative is Bendigo children experience less family violence.

The Early Years Family Violence Action Plan for Bendigo:

  • Articulates the impacts of family violence on children
  • Highlights and summarises the existing local system response
  • Places the C4C Early Year family Violence Action Plan in the broader context of local state and national plans, which also address Family Violence
  • Highlights priority areas for safeguarding our children and addressing family violence
  • Makes recommendations for practical actions for anyone working with and supporting children.

This Early Years Family Violence Action Plan contains a range of mutually reinforcing strategies across the spectrum of prevention, early intervention and response. The overarching outcomes of this Action Plan are:

  • The voices of children are heard and their needs responded to, so that they are represented in project or program design and development.
  • The Early Years sector is engaged in violence prevention initiatives that change community attitudes to violence and work towards gender equity.
  • Children who have experienced, or are experiencing, family violence are identified and well supported through a range of intervention and therapeutic responses.
  • Staff working in the Early Years sector have increased knowledge, skills and confidence to respond when family violence is identified, understand the impact, underlying causes and consequences of family violence on children.

For more information contact:

Naarah Dawes
C4C Coordinator
p: 5430-1200 (Reception)
e: naarah.dawes@anglicarevic.org.au

Phoebe Barton
C4C Early Years FV Project Worker, based at Centre for Non-Violence.
e: PhoebeB@cnv.org.au

Jude Di Manno
Violence Prevention Projects Coordinator, Centre for Non-Violence
p: (03) 5434-4100 (Reception)
e: JudeD@cnv.org.au