Abuse, neglect & violence

Protecting children is a critical theme for all of us, and especially so when there are so many tragic adversities which can severely impact on children's lives. Most damaging to children and young people are the experiences of abuse, neglect and violence, which are sadly prevalent in more circumstances than one would expect. The experience of these traumas is particularly associated with adverse mental health outcomes in childhood and through to adult life.

Cumulative, multiple experiences add to children's vulnerability. The emotional and behavioural consequences can affect development, relationships, learning and the future. Protecting children from such adverse experiences is critical to their future and ours as a society. Protecting them from these most adverse and damaging experiences is the responsibility of all those who engage with children and families.

The resources on this web page can help to inform professionals, working with children and young people, of the impact of abuse, neglect and violence.

Resources for practitioners

Information for professionals on supporting children and families after a child has been abused

 248.98 KB pdf

Finding out that a child has been abused can be a stressful time for the professionals that are working with the child. This tipsheet has been developed as a guide to what some of the priorities are in responding to a child who has been abused, as well as an information resource to help you assist families and children during this time.

Stepping Up for Kids

 630.45 KB pdf

Stepping Up for Kids: Understanding and supporting children who have experienced Family and Domestic Violence is a booklet for professionals working with children. The booklet contains useful information on Family and Domestic Violence (as it occurs in Australia) and the potential consequences for those affected, as well as strategies for minimalising such consequences. The booklet also dispells many common myths about the lack of impact that Family and Domestic Violence has on young people.

The impact of abuse and neglect on children

 114.87 KB pdf

For the purposes of this resource, when we talk about child abuse we are referring collectively to physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, exposure to violence and sexual abuse.

Resources for families and carers

Domestic Violence

 318.42 KB pdf

All families go through tough times and can argue and fight. However once it reaches a point where you or your child doesn't feel safe this is not normal and not ok. If your child is raised in a home where they feel scared or worried all the time this can be really hard on them. Kids need their home to be a safe and loving place, and without this, there may be negative effects on their physical and emotional development.

Supporting your child after abuse

 636.58 KB pdf

When a child discloses abuse often the adults around them will feel grief and anger, as well as many other overwhelming feelings. They can also feel helpless and unsure of how to best assist their child. This tipsheet aims to increase your understanding about how a disclosure of child abuse can impact on your family and what you can do to support yourself and your child. 

Other resources

A necessary engagement: an international review of a parent and family engagement in child protection

Anglicare Tasmania
A review of international and national models of engagement, support and advocacy for parents in contact with child protection systems.

Approaches targeting outcomes for children exposed to trauma arising from abuse and neglect – Evidence, practice and implications

The Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health and Parenting Research Centre
This report provides an analysis of evidence based approaches targeting trauma-related outcomes. It also offers recommendations for policy makers and service providers to consider.

Child abuse and neglect statistics

Child Family Community Australia
This resource provides a snapshot of child protection data in Australia for 2012-2013.

Child abuse and trauma: Bodies, brains and recovery

Listen to a discussion with Peta Murcutt and Professor Louise Newman about early intervention with traumatised children.

Child Sexual Assault: Facts and Statistics

This resource examines the prevalence of child sexual assault in Australia and also discusses the immediate and long term impacts on children and young people. 

Children affected by domestic and family violence: a review of domestic and family violence prevention, early intervention and response services

Australian Institute of Family Studies
This report sets out the findings of research into domestic and family violence prevention, early intervention and response for children aged 0–8 years in New South Wales.

Children's exposure to domestic and family violence

"This paper examines the literature assessing children's exposure to domestic and family violence, and findings that domestic and family violence can affect children's behaviour, schooling, cognitive development, mental and physical wellbeing, and is the leading cause of homelessness for children. Children who grow up in families where domestic and family violence occur are also more likely to experience other forms of child abuse, such as sexual, physical and emotional abuse/maltreatment."

Children’s exposure to domestic violence in Australia

Australian Institute of Criminology
This article discusses the extent of children's exposure to domestic violence and the impact on children.

Cost of Child Abuse in Australia

 3.19 MB pdf

Access Economics, Australian Childhood Foundation, Child Abuse Prevention Research Australia at Monash University
This report estimates the current cost of child abuse in Australia as well as looking at future costs associated with physical abuse, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect in children.

Cumulative harm: the effects of chronic child maltreatment

Dr Leah Bromfield, National Child Protection Clearinghouse
This presentation outlines the effects of chronic child maltreatment.

Effects of child abuse and neglect for adult survivors

Child Family Community Australia
The purpose of this resource sheet is to indicate the potential long term effects of child abuse and neglect that may extend into adulthood.

Effects of child abuse and neglect for children and adolescents

Child Family Community Australia
The purpose of this resource sheet is to indicate the possible effects of child abuse and neglect and to explore whether different types of maltreatment are associated with specific adverse consequences in childhood and adolescence.

Enabling and protecting

Children with Disability Australia
A paper addressing the abuse and neglect of children and young people with disability

Long-term effects of child sexual abuse

Child Family Community Australia
This article draws on a large body of research to discuss the impact of child sexual abuse on children and young people. It discusses the immediate impact of abuse as well as the longer term difficulties that may arise.

Neglect or emotional abuse in children aged 5-14

NSPCC and Core-Info, UK
This information sheet summarises what is currently known about neglected or emotionally abused children and lists signs to look out for, including beahviour, school performance and interaction with others.

Neglect or emotional abuse in teenagers aged 13-18

NSPCC & Core-Info, UK
This leaflet summarises scientific literature describing how teen 13-18 years experiencing abuse and neglect view themselves and their experiences.

Protecting Children Together

Department of Human Services, VIC
The best interest principles provide a unifying set of principles across the Family and Placement Services sector, Child Protection and the Children's Court that guide decision making and service delivery.

Reporting abuse and neglect

Child Family Community Australia
This resource sheet provides information on state and territory departments responsible for receiving reports of suspected child maltreatment from members of the public.

Responding to children and young people's disclosures of abuse

Child Family Community AUstralia - AIFS
This paper serves as a guide about what is known about how, why and when children are likely to disclose and suggests action to take at time of disclosure and thereafter. Includes an infographic.

Responding to children and young people's disclosures of abuse practice brief

 463.51 KB pdf

National Child Protection Clearinghouse
This resource provides information for family, professionals and other adults on how to respond to a child's disclosure of abuse.

Risk and protective factors for child abuse and neglect

Australian Institute of Family Studies
This paper provides an overview of the risk and protective factors for child abuse and neglect and how it is important for those working with young people to be cognisant of these factors.

The impact of domestic violence on children: A literature review

 341.22 KB pdf

Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse; Benevolent Society
This resource provides a comprehensive review of domestic violence, how it affects children in Australia and what is considered good practice in this area.

The long-term effects of child sexual abuse

Child Family Community Australia
This research looks at the longer term impact of child sexual abuse and discusses the range of negative consequences for mental health and adjustment, aspects of abuse and how strong, supportive relationships can help buffer the impact of abuse.

The prevalence of child abuse and neglect

Child Family Community Australia
This resource sheet summarises the state of knowledge about child abuse and neglect. It provides an overview of Australian studies that have estimated the prevalence of different forms of child maltreatment.

Understanding child neglect

Child Family Community Australia
This resource provides a broad overview of child neglect and issues surrounding this complex problem. The paper also talks about how the public health model is suited to addressing neglect.

When to suspect child maltreatment

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, UK
A summary of the clinical features that may alert healthcare professionals that a child is being maltreated.

Who abuses children?

Child Family Community Australia
This fact sheet provides an overview of available evidence and data on perpetrators of child abuse and neglect.


Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA)

This website provides information and links to resources and support. 

Australian Centre for Child Protection

A joint initiative of the Commonwealth Government and the University of South Australia. The centre conducts research, professional training and advocacy.

Australian Childhood Foundation

This Foundation provides a range of specialist counselling services for children and young people affected by abuse and their families. It also provides community and professional education as well as debriefing programs.

Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse

Provides information about domestic and family violence issues and practice. Disseminates information and research.


An Australian organization that increasing information and knowledge about child sexual assault. The website contains links to research articles. 

Child Family Community Australia

This clearinghouse is through the Australian Institute of Family Studies. It is an information and advisory unit focused on the enhancement of family relationships across the lifespan.

Child Witness to Violence Project

A site that provides information and resources for children who are bystanders to community and domestic violence.

Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma

A US site that is concerned with issues to do with children exposed to violence. Contains information and resources for practitioners.

National Child Traumatic Stress Network

This website contains information specific to the experience of children exposed to domestic violence. This includes signs that a child has been exposed to domestic violence and the impact that this has on children.

Research Centre

Department of Community Services, NSW
Includes research, policy documents and papers in the area of child abuse & neglect, out of home care etc. 

The Child and Family Welfare Association of Australia

The national peak body for child, adolescent and family welfare in Australia.

Violence Prevention

A site linked with the World Health Organisation and providing a violence prevention evidence base and resources. Contains information about child abuse, youth violence, and domestic violence.