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Connecting the dots: understanding the DFV experiences of children and young people with disability within and across sectors

Project Details

Funding partner

Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS)


February 2021 – August 2022


Publications will be posted here when available.


DCI researchers

Flinders University researchers

  • Professor Chris Brebner

Research partners

  • University of South Australia Centre for Child Protection – Associate Professor Melissa O’Donnell, Professor Tim Moore, Dr Olivia Octoman, Dr Martine Hawkes

  • UNSW Sydney Social Policy Research Centre – Professor kylie valentine


This research aimed to develop new understanding of how children and young people with disability experience family violence.

We know children and young people with disability are more likely to experience violence and abuse but for many reasons we have not been able to provide an accurate picture of how or why. Our project aimed to resolve this by bringing together a range of data to help us know what is going on for children and young people with disability at a population level.

We also wanted to know how well mainstream and disability services are supporting children and young people with disability, and what services do to help when they are experiencing violence. We believe that children and young people with disability and their families can give us a unique and valuable account of what is happening and what might be improved.

The project had three phases:

  1. We analysed population level data sets to identify how common family violence is for children and young people with disability. We linked the data sets to improve how we can identify children and young people with disability in the data.

  2. We interviewed young people with disability aged 8 and over, family members and service providers about their ideas, experiences, and priorities for improving supports when children and young people with disability experience DFV.

  3. The last part of the project involved bringing people together to find out how policies and systems can be more responsive to young people’s priorities.

This project was guided by advisory groups of young people with disability, policy advisers and practitioners who provided advice and feedback on our approach and how to increase the impact of our findings.


This project responds to this priority area by connecting findings from existing data sets to form a national picture of prevalence and risk, identifying data limitations and opportunities to improve policy and practice. It also prioritises the voice of children and young people with disability through qualitative and co-design activities that identify their support and service needs in the context of DFV, and their priorities for safety and moving forward.


An easy-read resource for this project is not currently available.

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