One in 10 family violence abusers in the ACT teenage boys, inquiry to hear
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One in 10 family violence abusers in the ACT teenage boys, inquiry to hear

One in 10 users of family violence are now teenage boys, leading to calls for more funding to teach young men to deal with their anger.

Menslink chief executive Martin Fisk will appear before an ACT parliamentary inquiry on Thursday, which is examining the territory's policy responses to domestic and family violence.

Teenage boys need more resources to learn how to deal with their emotions: Menslink.

Teenage boys need more resources to learn how to deal with their emotions: Menslink.

The ACT government introduced a $21 million domestic violence package in 2016, after four people died due to family violence in 2015.

Mr Fisk said in the 18 months to December 2017, Menslink's counselling service supported 293 young men struggling with family violence - both victims and perpetrators.

That represented 39 per cent of its client base at the time, with demand for family violence related counselling growing on average 30 per cent a year over the last five years.

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Worryingly, he said ACT Policing statistics showed more than 10 per cent of family violence offenders were males aged between 10 and 19 years in the year to June 2017.

Last July, Menslink opened its counselling practice to 10-12 years old, and now the group accounts for 12 per cent of its total client base.

Nearly half were affected by family violence, and most used violence themselves.

However, the proportion using violence is lower than in young men aged 13 to 25, leading Mr Fisk to believe there was a chance to address those behaviours before they became ingrained in later years.

"Our belief is that more work needs to be done in the area of preventing violence by addressing the root cause," Mr Fisk said.

"With respect to the government, we have not seen a very significant investment in this area yet our results show that work in this space can yield a massive return for families and for future families and generations.

"Simply telling young men not to be violent against their sisters, mothers or partners is only a beginning. While these messages are valuable, in our experience young men already know when their behaviour is wrong.

"They lack role modelling, training and alternative strategies for how to act when faced with conflict or strong emotions."

The ACT Legislative committee has so far heard from legal experts and domestic violence workers about how the ACT's new dometic violence laws are working in practice.

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Witnesses have praised the ACT government for its efforts to eradicate family violence, but pointed to problems including an underfunded and overburdened legal system, overstretched specialist domestic violence shelters and a focus on picking up the pieces, rather than addressing the root causes of abuse.

Another hearing will be held next Thursday.

Katie Burgess is a reporter for the Canberra Times, covering ACT politics.

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