*Trigger warning. The content on this page contains information about domestic and family violence and could cause distress.
All children have the right to live without violence
We advocate for children and young people who have experienced domestic and family violence by calling on the government to improve the laws, policies and practices that impact children’s lives.
In Australia, 1 in 4 children are exposed to domestic and family violence*
The impact of domestic and family violence on children is long-lasting. The pain and distress among children and young people who have experienced domestic and family violence (DFV) cannot be underestimated. Our front-line workers and practitioners tell us that children and young people continue to endure abuse and controlling behaviours on a daily basis from those who should be the ones that are providing love, care, and security.
The damage to a child’s sense of self, the undermining of confidence, the impact on health and mental health, and the social costs through poverty, loss of education and isolation are detailed in our research report, Truth is the abuse never stopped.
This research has shown that 88% of child victims of DFV have suffered life-long psychological distress as a result of their experiences. Long after the abuse has stopped, the devastating impact of domestic violence remains.
It is time to recognise children and young people as victim survivors of domestic and family violence.
It is critical that children have access to their own trauma counselling and other specialist DFV services.
Our government asks
Barnardos Australia asks that the Federal and all State and Territory Governments acts on the following six areas of priority.
Recognise children and young people as equal victims of domestic and family violence in policy, programs and service delivery nationally in every Territory and State and ensure that this is prioritised and implemented as part of the First Action Plan 2023-2027 under the National Plan to End Violence Towards Women and Children 2022-2032.
Prioritise children and young people who are victim-survivors of domestic and family violence, and ensure they receive immediate and effective trauma-informed counselling and therapy.
Provide funding for domestic and family violence child specialist workers in all seven Barnardos Children’s Family centres to ensure children and young people are supported in their own right with case management and support.
Increase funding for safe, secure and affordable social housing for children and families fleeing domestic violence situations, including crisis, transitional and long-term housing in order to directly prevent children needing to enter out-of-home care.
Review the legislation to give children a say about whether they wish to see a perpetrator parent after an AVO or court order is issued.
Prioritise primary prevention and fund age-appropriate domestic and family violence education programs which are nationally consistent across early childhood education, primary and secondary schools.
You can advocate for children by taking a stand with us. Become a champion for children by acting now to protect children from domestic and family violence. Here are some simple ways to help drive change for children:
"My children have come out with things that I've had to seek out help for because they have experienced trauma, and they haven't processed the trauma." - Tegan, domestic violence victim-survivor and advocate.
Tegan talks about the effect that domestic violence had on her children
Myths and facts about Domestic and Family Violence
Click on the Myth’s card below to learn the facts.
Domestic and Family Violence FAQs
Abuse doesn’t have to involve physical violence, to be domestic or family violence.
Domestic and family violence can involve behaviour that makes you feel scared, involve threats to you and your children, and denies you choice and freedom. Domestic and family violence almost always involves an ongoing repeated pattern of behaviour to control you. This is known as coercive control, which can include both physical and non-physical abuse.
Coercive control is a pattern of controlling and manipulative behaviours. Coercive control can be hard to spot because it often starts slowly or builds up over time. It can involve both physical and non-physical abuse. Everyone’s experience is different, but there are some common behaviours to look out for.
Some examples of coercive control behaviours are name calling, controlling access to money, checking your phone or text messages, not allowing you to go to school or work, cutting you off from friends or family, and many others.
A person who uses coercive control may use these abusive behaviours to scare you and take away your freedom and independence. The behaviours can be subtle and sometimes, this means only you and the person using violence against you can tell how harmful the behaviour is. The impacts of coercive control are serious no matter which abusive behaviours are used.
No, domestic violence is an ongoing repeated pattern of behaviour to control you. It is not always physical. Domestic and family violence can involve behaviour that makes you feel scared, involve threats to you, your children or pets, and denies your choice.
Domestic and family violence can happen to anyone. It can happen to anyone from any background, and it is widespread across Australia and the world. It does not only happen in certain cultures or postcodes, it can happen to anyone, anywhere.
Further help and support resources