Join the conversation—Parenting in contexts of family violence and inter-parental conflict: Implications for practice

Join the conversation—Parenting in contexts of family violence and inter-parental conflict: Implications for practice

22 March 2018

This webinar explored the implications of recent research on women's and children’s experiences of family violence and inter-parental conflict.

This webinar explored the impacts of DFV and IPC on parenting capacity and children’s social and emotional wellbeing. It discussed implications for practice, including the need to develop responses that restore parenting capacity and repair parent–child relationships.

A full recording of this webinar is available on our YouTube Channel.

The audio, transcript and presentation slides are also available.

Further reading

Related resources

  • Family Safety Model: for working with those affected by family violence
    Developed by Relationships Australia Victoria, the Family Safety Model uses a whole-of-family approach to working with and providing services and support to all family members who are affected by the violence, including children.
  • Living with a father who uses violence
    Developed as part of the Fathering Challenges Research Project, this resource presents short digital stories that were created by young people living with a violent father.
  • No to Violence: Mens Referral service
    No to Violence is a peak body for organisations and individuals working with men to end family violence in Australia.
  • Family Safety Victoria
    This website from the Victorian Government presents information and related resources on family violence reforms in Victoria.
  • Family Relationships online
    Family Relationships Online provides all families (whether together or separated) with access to information about family relationship issues, ranging from building better relationships to dispute resolution. 
  • Safe & Together Institute
    The Safe & Together Institute provides expert professional training and consultation to increase the safety and well-being of families impacted by domestic violence.


Thank you Cathy and Kathryn for today's webinar. So much to contemplate for my area of interest - supporting children and families in schools. For educators in early years and school settings, could you please recommend approaches that effectively integrate support for children and young people experiencing family separation, conflict and violence as they balance their lives beyond and at school?
Hi LE, recognising that children who are experiencing conflict at home or between homes are likely to show signs of distress at school is very important for educators. It can be helpful to know when children are transitioning between their homes as they may appear more unsettled at this time. School counsellors, school wellbeing coordinators are great resources and can refer children and parentings to family and relationship counselling or the Supporting Children after separation programs that are offered in most states and territories. The Geelong FRC has developed a seminar for early childhood educators and teachers that we deliver in schools and early learning centres/kindergartens focusing on supporting children through the journey of separation. If you are interested in more information we could send some through to you.
Kathryn Lyons
Hi LE, there are also some great early years resources that 'The Safe from the Start' program in Tasmania have some lovely resources for children and their mothers and fathers where there are issues of violence and abuse.
Cathy Humphreys
I thought that the courts were careful to say that equal and shared responsibility does not equate to equal time. That is, there is an incorrect understanding in the community about this. Is that not the case? Also there are changes which will give Local Courts jurisdiction in small pool property matters so that they can DV at same time.
Hi Mary, I believe the courts do attempt to make this clear however for parents who may not yet have entered into a legal process but have done some reading particularly on the internet they may interpret the equal and shared responsibility as equal time. These parents at times use language such as "its my right as a Mum or Dad to…" so in our information sessions we educate them around the language of children's rights vs parental responsibility (under the Family Law act).
Kathryn Lyons
Hi Mary, I would also suggest that lawyers are often unhelpful in this space. While they may tell their clients 'the law' they also work on an instruction model and if their client want equal shared time then they can be known to fight very hard to achieve this regardless of 'the best interests of the child'. Many clients are also unrepresented and so will be 'self instructed'!
Cathy Humphreys
How do you consult children's wishes and input in their care arrangement? and at what age can the children decide whether or not they want to continue with the arrangement?
Hi Grace, this question is one that is often asked and unfortunately there is no definitive answer. Magistrates themselves have indicated that there is no one age where you can say a young person should make a decision like this as development and maturity can be different from one young person to the next. However the most common ways to hear the voice of children and young people is through a family report that can be ordered by the court or in our service we utilise the child informed mediation process where children and young people can meet with a child inclusive practitioner to talk about their experiences and this is then fed back to their parents with the child's consent. In practice we do find that adolescents tend to "vote with their feet" in that they may refuse contact even with court orders in place.
Kathryn Lyons
If family violence has been disclosed by one parent, does the mediator will separate the mediation with another mediator for the perpetrator to maintain clarity and avoid conflict of interest?
Hi Grace, most mediation services will actually ensure that the one practitioner conducts the assessment with both parties. This is to ensure there is consistency but also that the practitioner can then get a fuller picture of the situation. It is extremely important that a practitioner remains impartial- this is covered in training and also in professional development and supervision for staff. What we would ensure if we felt it was safe enough to proceed to FDR in cases of family violence was that there were two mediators in the room. However again they must both remain impartial but ensure safety of the parents/clients.
Kathryn Lyons
Hi Grace, it is an interesting point and one where mediation is actually difficult where there are issues of abuse and violence - even if it is shuttle mediation. Where there is abuse and violence those who are victims may need advocacy rather than impartiality and that is particular true for child victims. It is where some of our current structures are not necessarily fit for purpose.
Cathy Humphreys
Is the DV referred to purely physical or is there other elements considered like financial especially after separation. Are there any steps taken to address financial abuse during seperation? as the children are the ones that suffer the most while often having to spend visitation time with the source of their hardship.
Hi Carmen, the Family Law act section s4AB (2) gives a number of examples of family violence which include not only physical but sexual, emotional and psychological abuse. It also refers to "unreasonably withholding financial support" Slide number 6 in my presentation which I am sorry I did not read out in full also refers to the different types of family violence that we must assess for. Financial abuse is unfortunately common in separation and is therefore a topic for the agenda in many mediations that we conduct. We encourage parents to focus particularly on the impact financial hardship has on their children and also their parenting and remind parents that they are both responsibly for children and their wellbeing.
Kathryn Lyons

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