The mental health and mental health service utilisation of perpetrators and victims of youth family violence

Ms Maddison Riachi1, Associate Professor Troy McEwan1, Dr Nina Papalia1, Dr Benjamin Spivak1

1Centre For Forensic Behavioural Science And Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia

Despite increased police call outs to incidents of family violence perpetrated by young people, a higher presentation of aggression and violence in youth mental health service consumers, and a high number of incarcerated youth having engaged in violence against family members or intimate partners, there continues to be a deficit in knowledge and understanding about youth family violence (Boxall et al., 2020; Condry & Miles, 2014; Fitz-Gibbon et al., 2017). The literature on young people who use violence in their family and intimate relationships has, to date, largely investigated different forms of youth family violence independently. This impedes the development of a comprehensive understanding of risk factors and points of intervention. The majority of research has also focused on the characteristics of perpetrators of youth family violence, rather than victim survivors, or dyadic interactions between the two, leaving a significant gap in understanding this form of relational violence in its entirety. The current data-linkage study addresses these limitations by investigating the mental health and mental health service utilisation of 326 young people whose violence towards their parents or intimate partners brought them to the attention of Victoria Police, while simultaneously investigating the mental health and mental health service utilisation of youth family violence victims. In comparing the mental health and mental health service utilisation across both forms of youth family violence, it is evident that there are more similarities than differences between cohorts. Implications for future research, risk assessment and clinical practice are discussed.


Maddison Riachi is a current Doctoral Candidate completing her Doctor of Psychology (Clinical and Forensic) at Swinburne University and The Centre of Forensic Behavioural Science. Maddison completed her Bachelor of Psychological Science (Hons) at the University of Queensland and worked as an Advanced Child Protection Practitioner for the Victorian Government before commencing her postgraduate studies. Over the course of her doctorate, Maddison has gained experience in several specialist forensic and clinical services including, Forensicare (Thomas Embling Hospital and Dame Phylis Frost Centre), The Youth Forensic Specialist Service (YFSS), Gatehouse (The Royal Children’s Hospital), and The Alfred Child Youth Mental Health Service (Alfred CYMHS). Maddison is currently employed as a Senior Child Counsellor with the Australian Childhood Foundation, conducting individual and group therapy with young people using violence in the home. Maddison’s predominant research interests include youth offending, child and youth forensic mental health, and child maltreatment. Maddison is also the National Student Representative on the Australian Psychological Society College of Forensic Psychologists Committee and co-host of the Forensic Minds Australia podcast.

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