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Understanding the evidence that informs best practice in responding to family violence

Understanding the evidence that informs best practice in responding to family violence

Understanding the evidence that informs best practice in responding to family violence

There is a solid evidence base regarding the drivers and reinforcing factors that lead to family violence and other forms of violence against women. It is now acknowledged that:

  • Family violence and other forms of violence against women are serious, preventable acts that have significant impact on individuals, families, communities, our society and the economy;
  • Violence against women (including many forms of family violence and sexual assault) is driven by four specific expressions of gender inequality:
    • condoning of violence against women (and their children)
    • men’s control of decision-making and limits to women’s independence
    • stereotyped constructions of masculinity and femininity
    • disrespect towards women and male peer relations that emphasise aggression;
  • Family violence is largely committed by men against women and children;
  • Family violence is prevalent and occurs across the social spectrum. However, some groups of women and their children experience multiple forms of discrimination and disadvantage due to the individual and structural power imbalances they face. These aspects can include gender, ethnicity and cultural background, language, socio-economic status, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age, geographic location or visa status. This is referred to as intersectionality. This can compound their experience of violence and reduce their access to resources and support. More information about this is provided in the Diversity and Intersectionality Framework.
  • The contributing factors around family violence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities include the impacts of colonisation, inter-generational trauma, dispossession of land, forced removal of children, interrupted cultural practices that mitigate against interpersonal violence, and economic exclusion. Family Violence is not part of Aboriginal culture, but intergenerational grief and trauma has resulted in the over representation of Aboriginal people as victim survivors. The intersection of gender and racial inequality creates the conditions for high rates of violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. A strong commitment from the Aboriginal community sector continually provides robust advice to the government. The Indigenous Family Violence 10 Year Plan provides the strategic framework that guides the direction for services that address Aboriginal family violence in the short, medium and long term. It is driven by the Indigenous Family Violence Partnership Forum. 
  • The contexts of LGBTI people’s experiences of family violence are more diverse. They include higher proportions of men who experience family violence, and of women who use violence against partners and family members. They also include transphobic and/or homophobic motivated family violence, and violence within families of choice;
  • Children and young people who experience family violence are at risk of immediate and long-term traumatic impacts which must be considered in responses to family violence. Children and young people must be recognised and responded to as victims in their own right;
  • Elder abuse has increasingly been recognised as another form of family violence, and is described as any act which causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust;
  • Some factors reinforcing violence against women and their children include current or past adversity experienced by perpetrators. However, this does not excuse violent behaviour. The use of violence is a choice and it is important that men who use violence are held accountable for their behaviour through informal and formal social and legal sanctions;
  • Delivering services to victim survivors of family violence requires a rights-based approach that prioritises their safety, agency and empowerment;
  • Best practice responses to victim survivors, their children and perpetrators require cross-sector and cross-discipline collaboration and team work. (AMES 2015, Our Watch 2016 VicGov 2017).
  • A best practice response requires:
    • Assessment and Management of Risk: The aim of the MARAM Framework is to increase the safety and wellbeing of Victorians by ensuring all relevant services are contributing effectively to the identification, assessment and management of family violence risk.
    • Prioritising Safety: Risk assessment and safety planning is undertaken with women and children on an ongoing basis. DVRCV publication Gathering Support: Safety for women is a 32-page booklet that includes comprehensive information on keeping safe if separating, how the law can help, technology safety advice and safety planning.
    • Collaborative and Effective case planning and management: Agencies involved in supporting women and children need to recognise and respond to women as the primary planners. An effective case plan identifies actions to address her goals and to provide a framework for the support relationship.
    • Awareness of legislative, policy and sector development: Staying in touch with broader developments supports practice.
    • Knowledge of service pathways: Assists in providing the most comprehensive response
    • Promoting and Protecting the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Specialist Family Violence Practitioners: Ensuring that staff are well supported translates into more effective practice with women and children. The Framework will be available early in 2019.

Next: The fundamentals of family violence practice

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