Western Australia examines the problem of children’s violence in the home

A report from Women’s Health and Family Services received attention in the Australian media this month. The Making of Good Men and Women (Responding to Youth Violence in the Home and its harmful impacts on families and communities in Western Australia) examines the problem of violence from children towards adults and other family members, and contains data from both Western Australia, where the report is based, and comparative figures from the state of Victoria, where services have been established for a number of years.

The working group, comprising not-for-profit agencies, service providers, government department and service recipients, was set up specifically to increase understanding of the issue, identify gaps in services, and make recommendations for service development. They found that between 2009 and 2014, police received 2013 reports of violence committed by children aged 10 – 17 against family members in their own home. This contrasts with 3252 reports of domestic violence by youths in Victoria in one year alone; and 1371 assaults by juveniles linked to domestic violence in NSW within the same time scale. Youth Violence in the Home, as it is called in this report, covers violence and abuse to all members of the family. Issues such as the difficulty for parents in asking for help are identified, and a range of possible predisposing factors discussed. Financial, social and health costs are also commented on. A number of successful programmes in operation elsewhere in Australia are highlighted.

Interestingly, attention is drawn to the fact that this aspect of violence is not addressed in the Australian Government National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Children, an omission that has just within the last months been addressed within Britain.

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