What is Family Violence?

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You might wonder ‘what is family violence?’ Family violence is sometimes called different names such as “domestic violence” or “abuse”. It is important to acknowledge that family violence is not part of Indigenous culture.

Definition of Family Violence

The Victorian Indigenous Family Violence Task Force defined family violence as: ‘An issue focused around a wide range of physical, emotional, sexual, social, spiritual, cultural, psychological and economic abuses that occur within families, intimate relationships, extended families, kinship networks and communities. It extends to one-on-one fighting, abuse of Indigenous community workers as well as self-harm, injury and suicide.’

Click through to read about examples of different types of family violence.

Campaign: It's What You Don't See

To raise awareness about family violence and its impact on Aboriginal children we launched our #itswhatyoudontsee campaign on the 20th March 2018. Led by the hashtag #itswhatyoudontsee, the campaign features four short videos that focus on one Aboriginal family and tells the story of family violence in the home and the impact it can have on the children in the family and their relationships in and outside the home. The stories were written by Aboriginal script writers and feature Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander actors who themselves have lived the impacts of family violence.

It is vital that we raise awareness in the community about the effect violence has on people – whether it is physical or not. We encourage you to share the videos and spread the message.


For more information on this campaign click here.

If you’re worried about a family member or friend

Family violence is common in Australia and it may impact on you or someone you care about.

If you are worried that a friend or family member might be experiencing family violence, you could find a safe time to sit with them to yarn about your concerns.

Some helpful things to talk about might include how to keep them safe or showing them this webpage so they can find professional support.

If you want to find out more ways to support your friend or family member, you can contact 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) for a confidential yarn.

They will be able provide you with helpful information and support you in deciding what to do next.

Impact of family violence on children and young people

The impacts of family violence on children and young people are complex.

It can affect their behaviour, their development, their relationships, their emotions, their learning, their thoughts and their physical health.

Some things you might notice in a child or young person could be:

  • Poor concentration, aggression, hyperactivity, disobedience, disturbed sleep/nightmares, withdrawal, low self-esteem, showing no emotion (spaced out), always on edge, wary, fantasize about normal home life, pessimism about the future and physical symptoms
  • Self-blame, helplessness, grief, fear, dread, terror, worry, sadness, shame, anger & numbness
  • Depression, anxiety & withdrawal

Experiencing violence in childhood is a significant risk factor for being both a victim and a perpetrator of violence in adulthood.

If you are a professional and want to understand more

As a professional it is important that you adapt a holistic healing approach to understanding and responding to family violence in Indigenous communities.

Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families 10 year plan

Click here to find out more about our Family Violence programs and support services.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices or names of deceased persons in photographs, film, audio recordings or printed material. To listen to our Acknowledgement of Country, click here.