The invisibility of children with a disability in family violence


Emma Gierschick,
Children Of Disability Australia
Tuesday 4 June 2019

Time: 4:00pm – 5:00pm

The invisibility of children with a disability in family violence


Family Violence is a heinous act against anyone, but against one of the most vulnerable groups in society – Children with a disability – it is abhorrent. Carers often have multiple additional challenges to face on a daily basis caring for a child with additional needs, and the existence of family violence makes life impossible.

Multiple reports and inquiries into family violence have taken place in recent years, however frighteningly not a single one discusses the additional vulnerabilities a child with a disability and their carer faces.

There is no data or research available on a National or global level save for a report issued by the WHO in 2012. The WHO commissioned an international study and information sweep of all electronic data bases globally. The conclusion stated that children with a disability were 3/4 times MORE likely to experience violence than their non-disabled peer, and that there was scant data specifically on this. The information mainly came about due to inferred data. Without data, recovery support and suitable assistance is non-existent. This is a direct violation of the Hague conventions.

Emma Gierschick developed a simple 2 page Special Needs Assessment Template for practitioners to use to strengthen prevention and early intervention for families in the future. It specifically targets any considerations a family needs to make for a child with additional needs. She encourages organisations to consider including this within their policies and practises. Emma is becoming recognised as a specialist in this field with multiple State and National awards.


A White Ribbon Advocate and survivor of family violence, Emma Gierschick has actively campaigned to raise the profile of children with a disability. Her work is published in multiple reports or inquiries. Emma was named as one of the top 100 Women of Influence 2018 by the Australian Financial Review.