We want all children and young people to grow up healthy, to thrive and make positive contributions to their community. But some children experience serious harm as a result of being exposed to crime, its aftermath, and through their interactions with the criminal justice system. The effects on children's development and wellbeing can be severe.
The criminal justice system, set up to deal with adult offenders, has struggled to respond to the needs of children. Traditionally, legislation has not fully recognised children who witnessed or were otherwise exposed to crime as victims in their own right – which means children often miss out on important support services to help them recover and heal from trauma.
Most victim support services are not structured or funded to work closely with children. Many court precincts remain unsuitable places for children – confusing, intimidating, and even unsafe. And many children affected by crime lack a real voice in the justice proceedings.
When the justice system does not respond well to children's needs, this can hinder their recovery and even re-traumatise them.
We are calling for:
We have a particular focus on Victorian legislation, policy, services and partnerships. In the last year, we added our voice to many consultation processes, including:
We also advocate for children's rights as victims of crime through our participation in peak bodies such as the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare and Youth Affairs Council Victoria.