What is vulnerability?

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  • Many families experience vulnerability at some stage. The presence of vulnerability risk factors does not mean that child abuse or neglect will occur, but practitioners should use their professional judgement to assess their significance for a particular child, young person or family. Vulnerability factors can be interrelated and separate factors can combine to increase the risk of harm to a child or young person.
  • Sometimes the safety and wellbeing of families and children may be threatened by individual, parental, family or social circumstances. In some cases, these circumstances or vulnerabilities will be time-limited. For others, vulnerability can be significant and long-lasting and can affect children into adulthood. What is clear is that vulnerability is a multifaceted problem that may not be readily apparent on an initial presentation at a health service.
  • Information gained about factors associated with risk or vulnerability should be balanced with information regarding the family’s capacity to cope with stressors or problems. For example, availability of extended family support, good relationships with friends or neighbours and factors promoting personal resilience need to be taken into account.

Supporting vulnerable families


Central Victoria Prevention & Population Health acknowledges the traditional owners on whose land we live and work, their rich culture and spiritual connection to country. We pay our respects to Elders past and present and celebrate their living culture and unique role in the life of our catchment.

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