A program to treat sexually abusive behaviour in youths will be launched in the North East with $120,000 in Victorian government funding.
Centre Against Violence is one of 11 organisations around the state to join up to the initiative, to be launched by Families and Children Minister Jenny Mikakos on Friday.
The Sexually Abusive Behaviour Treatment Services will treat young people aged between 15 and 17 years who were identified as a risk to others.
Running as either a voluntary program, a court order or a referral from child protection, it will work with the child and their family or carers to help change behaviour.
“This is about addressing destructive behaviour from an early age, to ensure we are rehabilitating young people and setting them on the right path,” Ms Mikakos said.
“Treatment doesn’t stop with the child.
“It’s about providing the family and other key people supporting the young person with the right tools to address the problem.”
Funding will run for the next three years.
The majority of SABTS clients – 1502 who accessed the service in 2016-17 – were children who were sexually abusive towards siblings.
An analysis found 36.4 per cent had experienced domestic violence in the past, 25 per cent had a disability and 30 per cent had a learning disability or attention deficit disorder.
CAV has also already offered services to children under 10 with problem sexualised behaviours and young people aged 10 to 14 who had been sexually abusive.
Funding for the initiative targeting 15 to 17-year-old youths came out of a recommendation from the Royal Commission into Family Violence.
It had been made available at other support agencies in Victoria since 2007.
On average, a SABTS client took part in the program for a year, but there was variation depending on the child’s needs and some could be involved for two years.
Deakin University criminologist Dr Wendy O'Brien told Fairfax Media there was a lack of useful data on sexual abusive behaviour among children, meaning it was impossible to know how prevalent it was in communities.
"There is a reluctance to acknowledge that this is occurring, no one really wants to take responsibility," she said.
"It is easier to deny that it is happening and that is where children are being failed."