EXTERNALLY-FUNDED RESEARCH PROJECTS
Improving the responses to children who experience family violence: when policy reform meets practice.
With momentous reforms underway to address family violence in Victoria and across Australia, there is an increased acknowledgement that children – once considered the “silent victims” of family violence – are impacted in their own right. Targeted responses that consider and address particular risks to children’s safety are therefore essential. This understanding is reflected in both the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Family Violence (Victoria) and the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2020.
This study aims to form an evidence base with which to help inform these developments, through providing insights from the practitioners who work with women, families and children impacted by family violence.
This study examined the ways in which family violence practitioners can and do respond to children during a time of policy reform. This study considered the information family violence practitioners receive on police referrals identifying nearly 2,000 children. Several information gaps were identified, along with inconsistent treatment of children identified on referrals.
The views of 11 practitioners of three specialist family violence services in Victoria were sought. It was clear that the practitioners who participated in this project are overwhelmingly committed to providing holistic responses to children. However, they identified a number of barriers, including: the large volume of police referrals received daily, limiting practitioner capacity to respond more comprehensively; information sharing problems between and across agencies; a perceived lack of child-specific risk assessment tools; and variable levels of collaboration between the agencies responsible for children’s welfare. The report highlights how important it is that the voices of the practitioners “on the ground” continue to be heard as part of the broader sectoral reforms being undertaken. It reflects how the successful realisation of the reforms will depend on how the knowledge, capacities and resources of the practitioners are used and enhanced.
Helen Forster and Lanie Stockman
Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand – Women’s Research, Advocacy and Policy (WRAP) Centre
Department of Health & Human Services (Vic)
Project start & End Dates
December 2015 – March 2018