Up to 80 Brimbank and Melton children from abusive or disadvantaged households will be offered free counselling and other support services.

The federal government has committed almost $680,000 to a program run by not-for-profit organisation Baptcare that will help refugee children and their families and those living on low incomes in Brimbank and Melton who are victims of family violence.

The program, called Reaching Children Through Universal Service, will offer counselling and case management.

Baptcare’s Hayley Robinette said the program would be delivered in partnership with local councils and primary and secondary schools.

Ms Robinette said the impact of family violence on children was often underestimated.

A report by the Commission for Children and Young People found there were family violence services for adults, but a lack of services specifically for children and young adults.

She said the program aimed to fill that gap “so that children and young people are no longer silent victims, and are instead supported with early intervention, minimising the risks of unresolved trauma as they grow into adults.”

The program is open to children aged up to 18 and will begin accepting referrals at the end of the month.