The nature and extent of domestic and family violence exposure for children and young people with disability

Olivia Octoman, Martine Hawkes, Fernando Lima, Melissa O'Donnell, Carol Orr, Fiona Arney, Tim Moore, Sally Robinson, Kylie Valentine, Amy Marshall, Jala Burton, Chris Brebner

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Children with disability are known to experience violence at higher rates than children without disability. However, little is known about how prevalent experiences of domestic and family violence (DFV) are among children with disability and the scope of potential harms this violence creates.

This report presents findings from Phase 1 of a larger project entitled “Connecting the dots: Understanding the domestic and family violence experiences of children and young people with disability within and across sectors”. Phase 1 used population-level, state-linked data from a cohort of children born in Western Australia from 1990 to 2009 to examine the extent of children with disability’s exposure to DFV. To further their analysis, the research team also used a random sample of child protection case files from within a metropolitan region within South Australia.

The research found that children with disability are twice as likely to have a mother hospitalised due to a DFV assault (8% compared to 4%) and that, according to police and hospital data, children with disability made up approximately 30 per cent of children who had experienced DFV. Children with disability were also far more likely than children without disability to have child protection involvement and enter out-of-home care.

Child protection case file analysis revealed more about children and young people’s experiences. Researchers found that the perpetrator of DFV often directed violence towards children as well as mothers. They also found violence negatively impacted children’s and families’ access to services and that mothers may feel unable to leave violence due to a lack of viable housing options that meet their child’s needs.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationSydney, NSW
PublisherAustralia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety Limited (ANROWS)
Number of pages78
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-922645-49-4
ISBN (Print)978-1-922645-48-7
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • domestic violence
  • family violence
  • children
  • young people
  • disability


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