Family violence is any ongoing threatening, abusive or harmful behaviour that happens in family or family-like relationships. For young people, there are two distinct ways of experiencing family violence: witnessing it, and directly experiencing it. Both are incredibly harmful and have severe impacts on the health and safety of young people.
Despite these major impacts, the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence found that young people are often overlooked as “silent victims” of family violence. In the context of family violence, they are seen only as extensions of their parents – rather than victim-survivors in their own right.
The family violence system is currently designed for women and accompanying children. It is primarily viewed through an intimate partner lens.
As a result, there are limited family violence response pathways for young people escaping violence without their parents. This highly vulnerable group are instead being overlooked and often forgotten.
Despite the Victorian Royal Commission happening in 2015, the problem remains the same.
MCM is advocating for the community services sector and the government to recognise young victim-survivors of family violence and provide the support they deserve.
Our advocacy work in this space is informed by partnerships with the family violence sector, academics and, most importantly, with young survivor-advocates. By working closely with the sector and young people with lived experience, we’re working to advocate for solutions that will address current systemic failures.
MCM’s Amplify Project seeks to understand the systemic gaps in providing care and support to young people experiencing family violence. By understanding what improvements can be made to family violence policies, laws, services, and practice, we can ensure that young people are recognised as victim-survivors in their own right and are provided the services and support they need to live a safe, independent and fulfilling life outside of the homelessness system.
Our 2021 report Amplify: Turning up the volume on Young People and Family Violence outlines clear actions and recommendations to keep young people safe, address the trauma that stems from family violence, and uphold their agency. In addressing this issue, we can stem the tide of young people falling into homelessness because of family violence.
Specific actions needed in reforming the family violence system include: