My matter is for the Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence.
It is about the worryingly high incidence across Victoria, over many years, of adolescent violence, especially within the home.
Adolescent violence is its own distinct form of family violence, and typically takes the form of child-on-parent or sibling-on-sibling assaults, aggression, intimidation and/or abuse – and I see it as an incredibly significant problem for our State.
Like earlier childhood trauma, violent behaviour during adolescence can often be the entry point for people not just into long periods of criminal offending but also more basic problems such as difficulties in learning, in communicating and in maintaining emotional stability.
According to data held by the Children’s Court, there were as many as 7,027 applications made for a family violence intervention order in Victoria between July 2014 and June 2019 in cases where the respondent was 19 years or younger. In fact, around 10% of all family violence police callouts in Victoria involve respondents aged 19 or under. Particularly disturbingly, around 30% of these respondents are females.
Worse still, as disconcerting as these numbers are, they actually underplay the full extent of these problems. I say that because research in this area very consistently reinforces the notion that many occurrences of adolescent violence are never even reported.
In turn, and as ANROWS’ recent and extensive ‘Positive Interventions for Perpetrators of Adolescent violence in the home’ report outlines in considerable detail, there also remains a general lack of knowledge about adolescent violence as a specific phenomenon in its own right. Unsurprisingly, this then leads to further gaps and inconsistencies in policy, practice and legislation, as well as in policing and jurisdictional responses.
In short, a more systemic approach to address the needs of these adolescents and their families is urgently required.
Victoria currently has another new problem on its hands altogether here, of course, given that such violence has very likely also increased during the coronavirus lockdown, with the near-permanent confinement of many bored and frustrated adolescents in their homes.
Bearing all of those points in mind, the action I seek is an update on progress on the implementation of Recommendations 123 and 124 of the Royal Commission into Family Violence. These are the still-outstanding recommendations related to adolescent violence from that Royal Commission.
I would be grateful if, as part of her answer, the Minister could also indicate what other work and actions are currently being undertaken by the Government specifically to reduce adolescent violence – especially through targeted early intervention strategies and funding.