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Children and family violence

Learn about how family violence can impact children and how Victoria Police work to protect children from violence.

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.

Family Services

Whenever children are at risk due to family violence, Victoria Police routinely will make referrals to non-government 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 organisations 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:

Some services that help children and young people include:

For more information see

Reviewed 07 July 2021

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