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MCM Pumps up the volume on young silent victim survivors of family violence

6 December 2021

A report released by MCM urges the community services sector and the government to come together to recognise young people as victim survivors of family violence in their own right and provide the support they deserve.

Six years on from the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence, young people remain the "silent victims" of family violence, as the Royal Commission described them. A new report from MCM maps out why and how that must change.

The report, titled Amplify: Turning up the Volume on Young People and Family Violence, recommends clear actions for responding to young people as distinct from younger children and their parents to stem the tide of young people falling through gaps into homelessness, justice and mental health systems.

The report found:

  • Young people's experiences of family violence are often different to adults and younger children, and that young people may not even understand that what they are experiencing is family violence.
  • Unaccompanied young people, especially those between the ages of 15-19, are typically not recognised as requiring services in their own right. Their opportunities to exercise agency are severely limited by confusion around young people's legal rights under 18 and parental consent issues.

Other findings include:

  • Over 15,000 affected family members in a police incident were aged 15-24. Of those, 76 per cent were young women, and 24 per cent were young men.
  • In 2020, 45 per cent of young women and 26 per cent of young men who presented to MCM's Frontyard Youth Services, the state-wide youth homelessness access point, cited family violence as their primary reason for support. 

Quotes attributed to MCM CEO, Vicki Sutton:

Our report shows the red flags that indicate a young person is experiencing family violence are different, and their attempts to be safe are often misinterpreted, leading to really inadequate responses.

When young people miss out on support, they can experience repeating patterns of violence throughout their lifetimes, and compounding disadvantage. They are also at greater risk of homelessness.

Today’s report has turned up the volume on the needs of young people experiencing family violence. It’s time for our system to tune in – young people deserve to be heard and they deserve to be safe.

Quotes attributed to Safe and Equal CEO, Tania Farha:

Children and young people are victim survivors of family violence in their own right, not just as extensions of their parents. We need strong responses that are coordinated across services and the community to ensure that all young people experiencing family violence get the best support possible.

The Amplify research and report has been developed with young people with lived experience, which is so important. Young people have told us what they need to feel safe and supported and we are listening.

Quotes attributed to Elvis Martin, Survivor Advocate:

I am pleased to see how Melbourne City Mission has genuinely consulted young survivor advocates. If we want to build a system that helps young people experiencing family violence, we should develop it with young survivor advocates.

"We can never address family violence without the input of survivor advocates.

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