EXTERNALLY FUNDED RESEARCH PROJECTS
Building bridges: Domestic violence, religion and the law
Religion is a missing link in domestic violence discourse in Australia as it is widely regarded to be a private matter. Religious victims of domestic violence suffer in silence, fearing ostracism from their faith community for leaving their abusive partners and simultaneously fearing to access secular support services lacking knowledge of victims' religious background, potentially requiring them to compromise their faith. Trapped within this conflicting position, religious victims are falling through the gap in the system while faith-based abuse thrives in the dark.
This research will consider the pivotal role of the law in building bridges through policy discussions and policy changes leading to legislative reform by exploring best practice in meeting the various needs of a domestic violence victim – particularly religious or spiritual care needs – under one roof or service.
It will seek the views of domestic violence survivors, domestic violence service providers and the clergy in consideration of incorporating a specialised social worker with additional accreditations in pastoral care in secular support services, and collaboration between the church and secular services to provide a coordinated, integrated and prompt response to Christian victims of domestic abuse.
The aim of this project is to explore the potential for policy reform leading to law reform to reflect best practice in meeting the various needs of domestic violence victims, particularly those with religious or spiritual care needs, under one roof.
To achieve this aim the research will consider the option of incorporating a specialised social worker – holding additional accreditations in pastoral care – in secular services through collaboration between the church and secular services towards the provision of a holistic, coordinated community response.
This is a qualitative study using in-depth, semi-structured interviews conducted among three cohorts. The cohorts are domestic violence survivors who are affiliated with the Christian faith, clergy and domestic violence service providers.
Views will be sought on best practice in meeting the various (including religious) needs of a Christian victim of domestic violence under the same roof as the secular services. It will also be considered if incorporating a specialised social worker qualified in pastoral care in a secular domestic violence service would be best practice in meeting all (especially religious) needs of a Christian victim of domestic abuse, thus potentially facilitating a "one-stop shop".