Symposium links child protection, domestic violence, and legal services to keep children and women safe

Monday, 23rd October 2017

A symposium bringing together experts in child protection and domestic violence will focus on the need for collaboration in gaining a greater understanding of how domestic violence impacts parenting to assist authorities to improve the safety of women and their children.

Today’s symposium will present the key finding from two significant new reports commissioned by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS). The authors of the reports will present their research at the national symposium to be opened by South Australia’s Minister for Education and Child Development the Hon Susan Close MP.

The research report PAThways and Research Into Collaborative Inter-Agency practice (The PATRICIA Project) was led by University of Melbourne’s domestic and family violence experts Professor Cathy Humphreys. Domestic and Family Violence and Parenting was led by Dr Rae Kaspiew from the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

ANROWS CEO Dr Heather Nancarrow said she is excited to bring this research to South Australia, which has made great inroads and investment in confronting these serious issues.

“Building a collaborative framework supported by multiagency practice, as well as investments in data-sharing, as seen through the establishment of the Department for Premier and Cabinet’s Early Intervention Research Directorate is a real step in the right direction,” she said.

The reports’ findings include:

  • Children whose parents have a history of domestic violence had poorer levels of wellbeing, even after their parents have separated.
  • Increased collaboration between child protection and specialist domestic violence services should be supported with formal protocols, joint training, and agreements about information sharing.
  • Child protection and family law services should include greater focus on the implications of family violence, offering a more individualised and nuanced assessment of a child’s needs that is informed by relevant experts.
  • The fragmented system of service delivery to women and children affected by violence is open to exploitation, as are other aspects of the system, including private law, mediation, family dispute resolution, and adversarial processes for making parenting arrangements.
  • Programs that engage fathers who use violence should be developed further to address the impact of abuse on children.

Already South Australia has developed a Multi-Agency Protection Service, the first of its kind in Australia. MAPS — as it is known — brings together staff from child protection, education, SA Police, housing, correctional services, health and women’s domestic violence services to ensure women and children are supported by a co-ordinated and cohesive response to the issue.

Department for Child Protection Chief Executive Cathy Taylor said MAPS brings South Australia further along the road to the provision of cohesive and co-ordinated practice towards keeping women and children safe from harm.

“When we link up child protection, domestic violence, and legal services, and work together, real changes can occur, and we’re already seeing the benefits. The opportunity to come together and discuss this with leading experts in the field is another step in the right direction for South Australia,” said Cathy.

Dr Nancarrow will be available for interview. Professor Humphreys and Dr Kaspiew will present their findings and will also be available for interview.

WHAT:   Child protection and domestic violence: Meeting the challenges of collaboration

WHEN:   9.30 am – 4.00 pm, Monday 23 October 2017

WHERE:   Hall F, Adelaide Convention Centre, North Terrace, Adelaide

Media enquiries:   Michele Robinson, Director Evidence to Action, ANROWS   

Phone: +61 417 780 556   |   Email: michele.robinson@anrows.org.au