Adolescent family violence in Australia: A national study of prevalence, use of and exposure to violence, and support needs for young people

Funded by: Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety 2020-2022 Core Grant Round.

Principle Chief Investigator: Associate Professor Kate Fitz-Gibbon
Chief Investigators: Associate Professor Silke Meyer, Professor JaneMaree Maher, Associate Professor Steven Roberts, Dr Kathryn Benier

Research Partners: This project will be supported by an Expert Advisory Board, including current Commissioners for Children and Young People, Advocates for Children and Young People, and international experts.

About the research project

There is increasing recognition across Australia and internationally of the significant harms and impacts of adolescent family violence (AFV). AFV refers to the use of family violence (including physical, emotional, psychological, verbal, financial and/or sexual abuse) by a young person against their parent, carer, sibling or other family member within the home (Royal Commission into Family Violence, 2016). While research in this area has developed in recent years, there remains significant gaps in current understandings of this form of family violence. Specifically, there is no research within Australia or internationally that examines the prevalence, nature and responses to AFV from the direct perspective of young people.

Project aims 

This project aims to:

  1. Create a robust prevalence database on the use of family violence by young people within the home, including among marginalised community groups,
  2. Understand the nature of family violence used by young people within the home,
  3. Examine the degree to which young people who use violence within the home have been exposed to different forms of family violence throughout childhood, and
  4. Generate new insights and recommendations into the support needs for young people using family violence

This project will generate the new knowledge needed to inform improved policy and practices responses to AFV across Australian communities. Using a large-scale survey comprising both quantitative and qualitative components this project will propel current understandings of this form of family violence with the key objective to improve community awareness and enhance relevant response and prevention initiatives.

The project findings will be relevant to all Australian state and territory jurisdictions.

Research Design

This project will use a nationally representative prevalence survey of young Australians aged 16-18 years old. The survey instrument will be designed to:

  • Create a robust dataset for measuring the prevalence of AFV in Australia,
  • Facilitate better understandings of the use of DFV by adolescents alongside an understanding of DFV exposure during childhood,
  • Generate new knowledge on current service options and support needs among this cohort.

The survey will consist of a series of demographic, quantitative and qualitative questions. This will allow the project to collect the breadth of data needed to quantitatively examine the prevalence, use of and exposure to DFV among young Australians but also the depth of data needed to better understand experiences of violence among young people.

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