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Evidence-informed family violence response practice

Evidence-informed family violence response practice

Evidence-informed family violence response practice

There is a solid evidence base regarding the drivers and reinforcing factors that lead to family violence and other forms of violence against women and children. These are captured by the points below. 

The nature of family violence

  • 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. It is largely perpetrated by men against women and children.
  • 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, men’s control of decision-making and limits to women’s independence,  stereotyped constructions of masculinity and femininity and disrespect towards women and male peer relations that emphasise aggression.
  • 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. 

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

Family Violence in Indigenous Communities 

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 provide robust advice to the government. Dhelk Dja: Safe Our Way: Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families 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 Dhelk Dja partnership forum.

Family Violence in LGBTIQ+ communities 

The contexts of LGBTIQ+ 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 as victim survivors

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 victim survivors in their own right.  

Elder abuse

Elder abuse has increasingly been recognised as another form of family violence. It is constituted by any act which causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust.

Best family violence practice  

A best practice response to victim survivors, their children and perpetrators requires:

  • A rights-based approach that prioritises victim’s safety, agency and empowerment.
  • 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 must be undertaken with women and children on an ongoing basis. See DVRCV’s publication resource, Gathering Support: Safety for Women for comprehensive information on keeping women safe if they are separating, how the law can help, technology safety advice and safety planning. 
  • Effective case planning and management: A case plan is a plan of action to address goals identified during assessment and to provide a framework and purpose for the support relationship. Workers need to recognise and respond to women as the primary planners of their own goals and objectives. A coordinated response involves multiple professionals and services working together to achieve case plan goals for adult and child victim-survivors.  
  • Awareness of legislative, policy and sector development: Staying in touch with broader developments supports practice. 
  • Knowledge of service pathways: Assists in putting those experiencing violence in touch with the services that are able to provide them with the most comprehensive support. 
  • Promoting and protecting the mental health and wellbeing of practitioners: Ensuring that staff are well supported translates into more effective practice with women and children. 
  • Cross-sector and cross-discipline collaboration and team work.

Next: The fundamentals of family violence practice

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