Children are victims of family violence
The Victorian Family Violence Protection (Vic) Act 2008 includes provisions to protect children.
Although protective parents or carers often make significant attempts to protect their children from the full impact of family violence, research has shown that children, even infants, nearly always know about the violence and are affected.
For more information see the Royal Commission Report into Family Violence Vol 2
How family violence affects children
Children can be affected by family violence directly by:
- physical injury (eg. while being held or trying to intervene or during pregnancy)
- being fearful for themselves or their protective parent or carer, siblings or pets
- having sleeping or eating difficulties
- having problems with school because they can't focus
- being isolated from friends extended family and community
As reported to the Royal Commission into Family Violence, there is also a high co-occurrence of family violence and other types of direct serious abuse of children including:
- physical assault, including higher rates of the use of excessive discipline
- threats toward a child or protective parent being used to frighten, punish or silence other victims
- exposure to developmentally inappropriate sexual experiences, including grooming and sexual assault
If you are worried about how your relationship with your partner is affecting your children, seek advice and help.
What police do to protect children
The safety of children is paramount, as children are the most vulnerable individuals in any family.
When family violence is reported to Victoria Police, police will take action to protect children.
The Code of Practice for Investigation into Family Violence requires police to:
- include children on Family Violence Safety Notices and applications for Family Violence Intervention Orders
- make referrals for all members of the family including children
- report child abuse to DHHS Child Protection Service
- investigate any crimes including those perpetrated against children
Refer to the:
Child Protection Service
Police are mandated to report suspected child abuse or where there is a reasonable belief that a child is in need of protection to the Child Protection Service (DHHS)
The Child Protection Service is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and is governed by the Children Youth and Families (Vic) Act 2005.
Child Protection is responsible for assessing and investigating any notification made by Victoria Police.
Whenever children are at risk due to family violence, Victoria Police routinely will make referrals to non-govenment services such as:
- Specialist family violence services
- Child First and Family Services
Some parents pro-actively seek advice from these services. You can use the links on these pages to learn more about what they offer and call services yourself.
If you or your children are Aboriginal, there are Aboriginal-community controlled organsations that can help the whole family including advocating to child protection.
See the information sheet and web page on Family Violence for Aboriginal Communities for more information and services.
For more information about how family violence can impact on children see:
- 1800 Respect Children and family violence the national telephone counselling service for family violence and sexual assault
- Family Court of Australia has resources about how family violence affects children
- Child Protection Service (DHHS) 24 hours 131 278 the government authority which responds to reports of child abuse or neglect
Some services that help children and young people include:
- Bursting the Bubble a website for children and young people about living with violence inflicted towards a parent
- Kid's Help Line 1800 551 800 provides telephone support for children and young people
- Headspace a mental health support service for young people
- e-safety Commissioner for information about on-line safety
For more information see
- Magistrates Court see their family violence pages and films
- Victims of Crime Help Line (7 days, 8am-11pm) 1800 819 817
- Victoria Legal Aid (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm) free telephone advice in a range of languages 1300 792 387
- Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre (24 hours) for women & children 1800 015 188 or 9322 3555
- Men's Referral Service (Mon-Fri, 8am-9pm) support and referral for men 1300 766 491
- Sexual Assault Crisis Line (24 hours) 1800 806 292
- Child Protection Service DHHS (24 hours) 131 278
- Housing Vic (24 hours) statewide referral for emergency housing 1800 825 955
Reviewed 04 April 2019