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Childcare centres can help stop family violence: Royal Commission

The Victorian Government’s Royal Commission into Family Violence has reported that early childcare centres are in a unique position to support children and families experiencing family violence by both informing parents about its impact on young children and implementing prevention strategies like educating young children about respectful relationships.

The report includes 277 recommendations to improve Victoria’s domestic violence services, all of which were approved earlier this week. Several of these recommendations were put forward by Early Childcare Australia (ECA) concerning the role of early childhood education.

ECA states early childhood educators receive limited family violence training, despite the fact that families with young children are at greater risk of family violence. The report places specific emphasis on the role of education about respectful relationships in early childhood, particularly on the subject of gender.

“These programs successfully introduce concepts around gender that challenge existing rigid gender stereotypes that create inequity and violence supporting attitudes and behaviours,” the report stated. “This approach works systematically to prevent family violence through creating cultures that are based on principles of equity and respect.”

ECA chief executive Samantha Page said she agreed “it is essential that early childhood services and schools augment their capacity to recognise when children are experiencing family violence and provide assistance, including linking them to suitable services.

“We also understand that because of the current lack of child-focused specialist family violence services for children and young people, there are limited referral pathways for schools and other universal services to utilise.”

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