Domestic and family violence (DFV) is the leading cause of children’s homelessness in Australia, and has long-term impacts on physical and mental health. Children and young people who have experienced or been exposed to DFV are often overlooked as individuals and victims in their own right.
Daniel is a victim-survivor of family violence and launched ‘Daniel’s Story’ in 2020. Since then, it has received over 3,245 views.
As part of the 16 Days of Activism, we are focusing on Domestic Violence NSW’s (DVNSW) advocacy priorities . One priority recognises the work we need to do with children and young people especially the importance of seeing them as victims in their own right.
As we launched this advocacy priority, survivor advocate Daniel spoke to us about the importance of acknowledging the views and experiences of young people when designing and evaluating domestic and family violence programs, and what we can do to support them. Check his passionate interview out here:
Why is it important that children and young people are recognised as victims in their own right when it comes to family violence?
Children and young people need to know that they are in a space where they feel comfortable and safe to talk about their experience. They need to be recognised and encouraged to speak out with someone they trust.
Why is it important for victim -survivors to have a voice when it comes to domestic and family violence activism and policy?
Because victims-survivors make it real. Their stories need to be heard, so it can help us work on policy and promote activism.
What made you want to tell your own story?
Through the support and guidance of my counsellor, I realised how important it was for meto use my voice to encourage young people to speak out about what they are going through. There are many victim-survivors who are female who are committed to ending violence – but very few men.
What changes do you hope to see in the domestic violence space in the future?
I would like to see more support in schools. School was somewhere I could distract myself to what was happening at home. I would like to see more counsellors who are specifically trained in trauma and grief, because students need to feel safe and supported. We need to look at more men’s safe houses, so women and children can stay in their homes. Children and young people need people around them that they can trust.
We also spoke with Caroline Speakman, a Trauma and Bereavement Counsellor based in Sydney. She highlights some key areas that are imperative to supporting children and young people who have experienced domestic and family violence.
Services should be user friendly and easy to find, access and engage with – the help, support, and advice which victim-survivors can access shouldn’t be dictated by where they live, how much they earn or what their injuries are.
The needs to be a place where victims turn to where they are offered psychological support, financial empowerment, and legal support in criminal and family law. There also needs to be education on what actually happens if you go to court, the role of the courts, police and DPP, access to long-term assistance to set up a new home, career support, advice and direction, and accessibility to childcare to enable entry to the workforce, and miscellaneous help like applying for essential documents from Service NSW for enrolment of kids in school.
Australians have an awareness today – more than ever before – of the need to address domestic violence. We are, as a community, engaged and unified in our desire for change; to shift cultural perceptions, make a change and save lives.
We need to unite services to victims, collaborate, leverage technology, and deliver practical supports to victims in a way that is convenient and easy for them to access, in a format they want to use, all under one roof.
Caroline also co-hosts a Respectful Relationships Podcast aimed at high school students from Years 9-12. You can listen to it here.