May 18, 2021

Panel Discussion

The panel was hosted by Elena Campbell (Associate Director of Research, Advocacy & Policy at the Centre for Innovative Justice), and featured Dagmar Andersen (Victoria Police), Dani Gold (Royal Children’s Hospital), Jemma Mead (Drummond Street), and Stephanie Pashias (Youthlaw).

The event reemphasised crucial findings from the PIPA Project: Positive Interventions for Perpetrators of Adolescent Violence in the Home by the Centre for Innovative Justice and ANROWS. The project’s findings highlight the gaps in system and service responses to adolescents who use violence in the home (AVITH). The panellists discussed how legal, health and family violence services can work to effectively respond to AVITH.

Key points from the discussion were:

  • Often responses to AVITH come at the crisis point as parents do not recognise the problem for what it is, and do not seek help due to stigma or fear of consequences for the young person.
  • System and service responses operate in a perpetual cycle of crisis rather than offering any kind of long-term support.
  • If a young person has no protective factors or support system, this narrows the available responses to addressing AVITH and funnels them towards the criminal justice system.
  • The criminal justice system serves as a blunt tool for dealing with AVITH.
  • Overall, there is a need to identify and intervene in AVITH earlier before it reaches a crisis point and offer nuanced support from systems and services.

The event highlighted that when families do reach out for support, what they are asking for are therapeutic services. However, rarely do families recognise that there are services and support for them outside of the criminal justice system. Service responses beyond a legal response offer a more nuanced approach to dealing with AVITH. Such an approach allows for early intervention and ensures that responses are centred around young people.

The system is operating in a perpetual cycle of crisis rather than offering any kind of long-term response to AVITH. System and service responses need to identify AVITH earlier before it reaches a crisis point and enters the criminal justice system. This requires a collaborative response. No one service holds all the answers, there needs to be support and different touchpoints within the system to support young people and families dealing with AVITH. The key messages from this conversation will help to better support young people and families who are dealing with AVITH in more nuanced and collaborative ways.

The Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare is committed to being a part of discussions and continues to work with agencies to find better solutions and responses to AVITH.

Resources for review:

  • You can view a recording of this event here.                                                           
  • PIPA Project Report Campbell, E., Richter, J., Howard, J., & Cockburn, H. (2020). The PIPA project: Positive interventions for Perpetrators of Adolescent violence in the home (AVITH) (Research Report, 04/2020). Sydney, NSW: ANROWS.
  • Check out OPEN’s page on Resources for practitioners working with young people using violence in the home , developed by the Centre, due to projects and activities funded by Family Safety Victoria.
  • In March 2020, the Centre and Family Safety Victoria co-hosted ‘Starting with the young person: Reframing how we understand and respond earlier to adolescent violence in the home’, a symposium that brought together peak bodies, sector leaders, academics and government stakeholders to better understand this issue. Presentations from this event are available to view here.
  • OPEN are also currently preparing a snapshot page focused collating key resources about adolescents who use violence in the home, so keep an eye out for this!
  • Check out OPEN’s page on Resources for practitioners working with young people using violence in the home, developed by the Centre, in partnership with Family Safety Victoria.
  • OPEN are also currently preparing a ‘Snapshot’ page which will provide key resources about adolescents who use violence in the home, so keep an eye out for this!