Identifying and responding to family violence
Family violence includes any behaviour by a family member that causes a child to hear or witness, or otherwise be exposed to the effects of family violence, including violence between adults and/or adolescents in the home.
Reporting family violence and mandatory reporting
Schools are well placed to identify family violence risk, respond to disclosures, and support affected students and families.
Mandatory reporting requirements, duty of care and Child Safe Standards should be followed as outlined on the
PROTECT website. Use the
Four Critical Actions for Schools as a quick-reference guide for schools on how to report and respond to disclosures, suspicions or allegations of child abuse including family violence.
For more detailed information and guidance on responding to child abuse and family violence under PROTECT see:
Identifying and Responding to All Forms of Abuse in Victorian Schools
What do I look out for?
Awareness of family violence and child safety risk indicators form part of your professional judgement and inform your decision about what action to take.
Information about the
identification of family violence, including physical and behavioural indicators.
While most of the risk factors listed below do not mean that family violence or abuse is present, it is important to recognise they may indicate that family violence is occurring, or other child wellbeing issues are present.
Known risk factors relating to family situation:
- unemployment of person perpetrating family violence
- alcohol or drug misuse of person perpetrating family violence
- person perpetrating family violence has physically assaulted a member of household, including pets, or threated assault
- recent or planned separation of parents
- harm of, or threat to harm a child
- mother/carer/partner (e.g. for adolescent) is pregnant
- child under one years of age in the household
- financial difficulties
- Child Protection previous or current involvement
Supporting students and families experiencing family violence
It is important to be aware that family violence is likely to be an issue in your community and to address - not excuse - the violence and affirm the right of those affected to live free from violence. If you notice signs or indicators of family violence, or a student, parent or carer discloses family violence, accept this and provide appropriate information and support.
Guidance and support is available from the Respectful Relationships workforce or regional Health and Wellbeing teams.
Explore information for parents about family violence, including family violence supports.
range of generic supports for parents, carers and families including family intervention services is also available.
You can also seek expert advice, or provide information and referral to the specialist family violence service in your area through the
Orange Door or through these statewide and national services:
- State-wide 24 Hour family violence crisis support for women and children including accommodation (refuge) options.
- If your or someone you know has experienced domestic or family violence, you can contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or through online chat.
Family violence during emergency and traumatic situations
Family violence incidents and risk can increase during emergency and traumatic situations and in the aftermath of these situations.
During these times family violence and other wellbeing and safety issues for students and their families can be impacted by
- isolation from support networks
- inability to seek and access support services
- difficulty telling someone what is happening at home (disclosing)
- family violence or abuse for the first time
- increased unemployment, financial and housing insecurity
- limited ability for community members, peers or services to monitor known issues
Mandatory reporting requirements, duty of care and Child Safe Standards continue to apply during or following emergency or traumatic situations and should be followed as outlined on the
Family violence frontline services, including crisis accommodation, police and courts operate to support women, students and their families. Further information and support for people experiencing family violence can be found at:
Supporting staff affected by family violence
Support is available to all
Department staff members affected by family violence.
Our employee assistance program (EAP) service has specialist family violence counsellors and can be accessed confidentially by staff and any of their family members over 18 years old. If you are concerned about a staff member using family violence, please contact People Services for further information and advice.
Leaders and senior staff also have access to the EAP, Manager Assist and the Principal class Early Intervention Program. Phone: 1800 338 663 Email:
Safe Steps (24/7)
The Safe Steps website has information in 10 languages, resources and support, including accommodation (refuge) options, specifically aimed at helping women and children as well as other people and roles affected by family violence.
This national service can provide advice and support for people experiencing family violence by phone and through a chat line. The 1800RESPECT website has resources on the website in 29 languages.
If you or someone else is in danger, call Triple Zero 000 for immediate assistance.