Adolescent family violence is not well-understood. Like other forms of violence, the number of incidences and the severity is often under-reported, and it is linked to a range of factors that are unique to each family.
The Safe Relationships pilot targeted young people aged 10-17 who used violence in their home or in a dating context or used sexual violence (or were at risk of doing so). Focused on early intervention, the pilot sought to end violence and increase safety by strengthening family relationships.
Young people presented to the pilot with complex issues and needs. The Safe Relationships pilot had a strong focus on tailored psychotherapeutic approaches and therapeutic life story work with adolescents. The assumption was that therapeutic approaches could support young people to identify why they use violence and provide a supportive environment for encouraging accountability and responsibility.
A functional family therapy approach sought to create attitudinal changes within the family unit, followed by support to implement concrete and specific behavioural changes for all affected family members.
MacKillop collaborated with Clear Horizon and RMIT University to review the Safe Relationships pilot. This review, published in 2022, offers judgement about the merit of the pilot program and assessment of the program’s performance and effectiveness responding to adolescent family violence.