Kids-At-Risk Subject To 'Poorly Directed','Unco-ordinated' Govt Policy, AHRC Says

05/12/2015 6:24 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Children impacted by family and domestic violence are being let down by the absence of a co-ordinated national approach on how to tackle the issue, a major Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) report has found.

The Children's Rights Report 2015, which will be officially launched on Monday, includes key recommendations on how to combat the impact of domestic and family violence on young people across the country.

It says the lack of a nationwide strategy is hurting outcomes for children and wants the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) to "prioritise the development of a child-focused policy framework for responses to family and domestic violence".

"Overall there is no coherent public policy approach to children affected by family and domestic violence," the report states.

"This results in unco-ordinated and poorly directed responses to children who experience family and domestic violence."

Australian of the Year and domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty will help launch the report in Sydney on Monday.

The report comes a week before COAG is due to meet in Sydney, and less than a fortnight after White Ribbon Day.

Approximately one in 12 people have suffered physical abuse as a child at the hands of family, the AHRC estimates, while about one in 28 Aussies have experienced child sexual abuse perpetrated by a family member.

Around 23 per cent of children are estimated to have witnessed violence against their mother, the commission says.

National Children's Commissioner, Megan Mitchell, said the report showed family and domestic violence was causing widespread damage, but its impact on kids was neither fully understood nor properly documented.

“Children who live in homes characterised by violence are often the silent, forgotten, unintended, invisible victims," Mitchell said.

“Clearly much remains to be done to make sure that children aged 0 to 17 years can live free from family and domestic violence."

Next week's two-day COAG meeting, called by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, is expected to have tax reform at the top the agenda.

In July, a special meeting of the intergovernmental forum was called to address a number of issues, including reducing violence against women and their children.

To coincide with White Ribbon Day, the government launched a $30 million campaign aimed at "breaking the cycle" of Australia's domestic violence crisis.

Mitchell said efforts to understand children’s experiences of family and domestic violence were often complicated by poverty, drug abuse and mental health problems.

“We need more in-depth research on the impact of family and domestic violence on children, (and) the interventions that prevent family and domestic violence," she said.

Other recommendations contained in the report include boosting data collected about children's experiences as victims and more research about the impact of violence on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

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