This page discusses family violence topics, and some of the material included here may be confronting. If this content causes you distress, help is available.
Family violence exists in many different forms – it can be displayed as physical, emotional, sexual, cultural, psychological or economic abuse.
While family violence disproportionately affects Aboriginal families, it is important to understand that family violence is not part of indigenous culture.
Speak up for safe families
Starting meaningful conversations about family violence is how we create change in our communities - it is up to all of us to come together to call out violence and abuse.
These videos show examples of family violence that you or someone you know may have seen or experienced in your family or community.
Our #SafeKoorieFamilies campaign has been developed to promote conversations in Community about examples of family violence. Use these videos and downloadable resources to start conversations in classrooms, group sessions, and community forums about the effect violence has on children, young people and families.
Recognising Unhealthy Relationships
Everyone has a right to feel safe in their personal relationships. To understand what a healthy and respectful relationship looks like, we need to be able to identify patterns of behaviour that are harmful or abusive. Being able to recognise the early signs of family violence helps us know when to seek support, or when to offer assistance to people who are at risk.
Where to find support
VACCA’s Family Violence programs work to keep families and children safe. We offer support services to Aboriginal children and families affected by violence and abuse, so they can heal and move forward with their lives. We also assist people using violence to make positive changes in their lives. If you or someone you know would like to find out more about our services and begin the road to recovery from family violence, please get in touch with your nearest VACCA office today.
If you’re worried about a family member or friend
It can be helpful to talk about how to stay safe, and share ways to connect with family violence support services like VACCA’s. For more ways to support your friend or family member, contact 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) for a confidential yarn. Getting professional support will provide you with information and support to decide what to do next.
If you're a professional and want to understand more
As a professional working in child and family services, it is important to adapt a holistic healing approach to understanding and responding to family violence in Indigenous communities. Find out more about VACCA’s Family Violence programs and support services: Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families 10 year plan.
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.
The impact 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. Experiencing violence in childhood also significantly increases the risk of being both a victim and a perpetrator of violence in adulthood.
The campaign also features an additional video, in which VACCA CEO Muriel Bamblett and Therapeutic practitioners Sue-Anne Hunter and Graham Gee reflect on the four videos, the family’s experience of family violence and the interventions that are working for Aboriginal families.
As a child welfare agency, we know that almost 90% of Aboriginal children in care are there due to family violence, and there are many others who are not in care who nevertheless see, feel and are impacted by violence around them. VACCA provides men, women, children and adolescents a range of counselling, groups and case management across metropolitan Melbourne and Gippsland as well as crisis accommodation services for Aboriginal women and their children (Gippsland only). If you want to find out more or have any questions you can find our contact information here.
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.
Needing help now?
If you or anyone you know is in immediate danger – please call 000 now.
Want to know more?
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.
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.’
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.