Violence prevention and early intervention for mothers and children with disability: Building promising practice. Key findings and future directions
This is an edited summary of key findings from ANROWS research Mothers and children with disability using early intervention services: Identifying and sharing promising practice.
Women and children with disability who are experiencing—or at risk of—domestic and family violence (DFV) require services that can address the specific needs that arise from the intersection of disability and violence.
However, the necessary skills, knowledge, and evidence on best ways to address these specific needs are still developing. This research project aimed to address this gap by identifying principles of positive practice.
- Many mothers interviewed in this study had difficulty in accessing services they were entitled to, and had to navigate multiple service systems.
- A holistic approach to safety and a focus on barriers to support (rather than impairment) is key to responding to the needs of families where either mothers or children have disability.
- Positive practice principles include timely responses and scaffolded planning, personalised and flexible support, building and sustaining local sector relationships, improving service coordination and building cultural safety with Aboriginal families.
- Challenges to effective practice in early intervention included workers having a lack of confidence in speaking about disability, strained sector and inter-sector capacity, time-limited support and gaps in services and systems.
- As recommendations are developed and implemented from the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability (2019–2022), careful attention should be paid to bridging existing gaps between policies, strategies, funding arrangements and services that address DFV and those that address disability.
- As recommendations are developed and implemented from the Royal Commission, consideration should also be given to potential changes to models of service provision to facilitate access to cross-sector, holistic support for women with disability who are experiencing or at risk of DFV.
- Practice design for DFV and early intervention services can be strengthened by building workforce capacity and designing/offering training based on the principles for positive practice outlined here. Sufficient resourcing is required to enable services to implement and evaluate these practices.
- Service providers and funders can play a role in supporting increased understanding of disability. Building skills in workers and organisations would enable confident and appropriate responses to the needs of families with disability who are at risk of, or experiencing, violence.
ANROWS Research to policy and practice papers are concise papers that summarise key findings of research on violence against women and their children, including research produced under ANROWS’s research program, and provide advice on the implications for policy and practice.
Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety. (2020). Violence prevention and early intervention for mothers and children with disability: Building promising practice: Key findings and future directions (Research to policy and practice, 16/2020). Sydney: ANROWS.