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.
'Keeping Aboriginal Children Safe In A Mainstream Organisation’ is a video resource/tool for mainstream organisations to provide cultural safety for an Aboriginal child in the context of child safe standards. The video clip explores the three key areas 1. Being culturally competent. 2. Providing a culturally safe space and 3. Ensuring an Aboriginal child has a voice. The clip was developed by Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) and funded by the Department of Health and Human Service (DHHS).
Our children have the right to be heard.
Children can become invisible, their voice unheard, when our work is crises driven and our focus is on carers and parents. Hearing a child's voice relies on listening, understanding and acting wisely on what they say. Only this allows us to respond to each child's needs, understand their views and encourage them to ask for help when they need it.
The Child's Voice tools is a strengths based resource that talks about why working with kids is important, gives messages from kids about how they might be best supported and provides a series of activities, games and tools.
The Child's Voice tools is based on the Kids Central Toolkit, develped by the Australian Catholic University. VACCA has redeveloped five tools from the Kids Cenral Toolkit specifically for Aboriginal children and provided talking tips and guidance for the tools specifically for Aboriginal children.
Read it here.
Deadly Story is a great resource that aims to support Aboriginal children and young people to grow in their knowledge of who they are, where they belong, where they come from, what they do, what they believe and what symbolises Aboriginal culture to them. It is a great way to learn about family finding, genograms, as well as having educational and employment resources.