Sadie’s story: Helping women affected by domestic and family violence navigate a fragmented system

Sadie’s story: Helping women affected by domestic and family violence navigate a fragmented system

Dr Rae Kaspiew, Emma Rogers and Jackie Wruck
1 April 2020

This webinar discussed the effects of domestic and family violence on women and how practitioners can help women receive the support they need.

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Slide outline - Sadie’s story: Helping women affected by domestic and family violence navigate a fragmented system

Slide outline

1. Sadie’s story: Helping women affected by domestic and family violence navigate a fragmented system
Rae Kaspiew, Emma Rogers and Jackie Wruck
CFCA Webinar
1 April 2020 

2. House keeping

  • Send through your questions via the chat box at any time during the webinar.
  • Let us know if you don’t want your question published on the online forum following the presentation.
  • All our webinars are recorded.
  • The slides are available in the handout section of Gotowebinar.
  • The audio and transcript will be posted on our website and YouTube channel in the coming week.

3. Sadie’s story: Helping women affected by domestic and family violence navigate a fragmented system
Dr Rae Kaspiew, Australian Institute of Family Studies
CFCA webinar
1 April 2020

4. Disclaimer

The views expressed in this paper are those of the author and may not reflect the views of  the Australian Institute of Family Studies, the Australian Government or the body that funded part of research referred to, Australian National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety.

5. What can we learn from Sadie’s story?

  • Sadie’s story illustrates:
    • Ongoing impacts of DFV on women and their children, including parenting and parent-child relationships
    • Systems abuse by ex-partners
    • Fragmented responses by service system
  • Sadie’s story helps us think about how policies and practices can be improved

Access a copy of Sadie’s story via CFCA website: https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/events/sadies-story-helping-women-affected-domestic-and-family-violence-navigate-fragmented-system

6. Domestic and Family Violence and Parenting research project

Project focused on three main research questions:

  1. How does inter-parental conflict (IPC) and domestic and family violence (DFV) affect mother-child and father-child relationships?
  2. How do mothers who have experienced DFV perceive this has affected their relationship with their children?
  3. To what extent have these mothers had contact with services and agencies in the child protection, family law and DFV systems?

7. Mixed methods research

  • Literature review (La Trobe University, Dr Leesa Hooker Prof Angela Taft)
  • Longitudinal data
    • Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (La Trobe University, Prof Jan Nicholson and team)
    • Longitudinal Study of Separated Families (AIFS, Dr Lixia Qu)
  • Cross-sectional survey data (AIFS, Dr Lixia Qu)
    • Surveys of recently separated parents
  • Interviews (AIFS and University of Melbourne, Prof Cathy Humphreys and team)
    • 50 mothers who had used services in relation to DFV experiences
8. A note on terminology
  • Domestic and family violence (DFV)
  • Inter-parental conflict (IPC)
    • See Westrupp, Rose, Nicholson & Brown (2015)
  • Survey limitations:
    • Do not measure severity of harm, power dynamics or context
    • Under-represent parents who experience severe violence

9. Mothers’ psychological distress increases with extent of IPC

  • Psychological distress varied by experience of IPC:
    • 6-7% of mothers who reported no IPC
    • 12-15% of mothers who reported intermittent or emerging IPC
    • 24-33% of mothers who reported persistent IPC.
  • Clinical level psychological distress:
  • 1-2% of mothers who reported no IPC
  • 3-4% of mothers who reported intermittent or emerging IPC
  • 8-10% of mothers who reported persistent IPC. 

Source: LSAC Analysis in the DFV and Parenting Report

10. DFV negatively impacts relationships, parenting, finances and children

  • Physical hurt and/or emotional abuse associated with:
    • Negative inter-parental relationships and safety concerns
    • Higher levels of parenting stress
    • Increased financial hardship, especially for mothers
    • Poorer outcomes for children and young people
      • Poorer general health and development
      • Poorer socio-emotional development
      • Increased behavioural problems

Source: AIFS Family Pathways Analysis in the DFV and Parenting Report

11. DFV has lasting effects on mothers and their children

  • Mutually reinforcing impacts of DFV (severe levels in sample)
    • Ongoing physical and psychological consequences for mothers, including:
      • post-traumatic stress disorder
      • high levels of stress and anxiety
    • Ongoing psychological (sometimes physical) consequences for children, including:
      • sleep problems
      • behaviour problems
      • high levels of stress and anxiety
    • Mothers and children potentially exposed to continued DFV
    • Children potentially exposed to poor parenting by ex-partner, including abuse. 

Source: Parenting and Abuse and Coercive Tactics Project, funded by ANROWS, collaboration with University of Melbourne (Professor Cathy Humphreys) and La Trobe University (Professor Jan Nicholson, Professor Angela Taft, Judith Lumley Centre.

12. Fathers’ abuse of service systems

  • 29 out of 50 women experienced systems abuse after separation
  • Engagement with multiple systems and services
    • Exploitation of inconsistencies between them
    • Manipulative engagement or non-engagement to exhaust personal and financial resources of women, including legal aid
  • Counter allegations in personal protection orders and parenting processes (including mediation)
  • Non-compliance with court orders and child support
  • Link to some mothers losing contact with children 

Source: AIFS and Uni. Melb. Qualitative study

13. Sadie’s story demonstrates

  • Dramatic impact of family violence on financial stability
    • Sadie became homeless and unemployed
  • Domino effect for her capacity to be the viable carer for her daughter
    • Despite violence and abuse, daughter remained with father because he had a roof over his head
  • Fragmented responses to family violence
    • child protection, family law and homelessness systems all involved but no safe solution for Sadie and her daughter
  • Sadie’s ex-partner and his ongoing impact on Sadie and her daughter – not in the line of sight 

Source: AIFS and Uni. Melb. Qualitative study 

14. Conclusion

  • Insufficient attention paid to impact on mothers and children of fathers’ family violence
  • Therapeutic support for mother-child relationships is important, but:
    • Inconsistent access to therapeutic support
    • Inconsistent focus on recovery in child protection and family law services
    • Barriers to recovery identified with DFV, child abuse and systems abuse perpetrated through post-separation parenting arrangements 

Source: Parenting and Abuse and Coercive Tactics Project, funded by ANROWS, collaboration with University of Melbourne (Professor Cathy Humphreys) and La Trobe University (Professor Jan Nicholson, Professor Angela Taft, Judith Lumley Centre.

15. Acknowledgements

  • ANROWS – for funding the research
  • The Advisory Group
  • Attorney General’s Department – for funding the SRSP and LSSF Surveys (LSSF Wave 1 co-funded with Families, Housing, Communities and Indigenous Affairs, now Department of Social Services)
  • LSAC: Australian Government Department of Social Services, Australian Institute of Family Studies, and Australian Bureau of Statistics.  

16. Building cohesion within a fragmented system

Sadie’s story: supporting Indigenous and non-indigenous families affected by fathers who perpetrate domestic and family violence

17. What builds cohesive practice across the system?

Text description: Family violence is the primary driver for the removal of Aboriginal and Torress Strait Islander children into out-of-home care

  • Having a consistent approach when working with fathers who perpetrate violence and abuse against their families that is focused on his patterns of coercive control.
  • A culturally significant approach is the foundation when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
  • Having a consistent, shared cross sector approach to DFV that clearly identifies perpetrators as parents
  • Shifting away from survivors/mothers being responsible for the harm (failure to protect)

18. What has guided our DFV informed practice: 

  • Applying the Safe & Together Model (created by David Mandel of the Safe and Together Institute)
  •  Qld Walking with Dads (WWD) program
  • Community of Practice/Invisible Practices and Stacy Research Professor Cathy Humphries
  • Successful Multi-Agency work

Text description: Safe & together principles

1. Keeping child safe and together with non-offending parent. 
Safety | Healing from Trauma | Stability & Nurturance

2. Partnering with non-offending parent as default
Efficient | Effective | Child–centered

3. Intervening with perpetrator to reduce risk and harm to child
Engagement | Accountability | Courts 

19. Key areas to focus on for cohesion and integration:

  1. Perpetrator Pattern Based approach - the foundation of DFV informed work
  2. Partnering as a default position anytime you are working with a survivor  (Safe and Together principle 2)
  3. Accountability and Responsibility for fathers across the system
  4. Multiagency work 

20. 1)Perpetrator Pattern Based approach (PPBA)
(Safe and Together Model term): 

  • The domestic violence perpetrator and his pattern of behaviour are the source of  the risk and safety concerns for the mother and the children; not the adult survivor or her behavior
    Is she going to leave? INSTEAD 
    what are his behaviours and tactics
  • We map perpetrators patterns of coercive control to have a PPBA
  • Focus on the father making a parenting choice to harm his family
  • Note these patterns of behaviour do not in any way represent the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander traditional way

21. 2) Partnering as a default position:
(Safe and Together principle 2):

  • Strength based technique where we are in an alliance and partners in safety with the survivor 

We find out

  • his pattern of coercive control (detail) and themes of abuse
  • What she is doing to keep her and her kids safe
  • best ways we can help keep her and the children safe
  • how we can intervene with him safely
  • who are influencing family and friends to hold him accountable and responsible for safety
  • and evidence of increased safety and parenting improvement (father).

22. 3) Holding him accountable and responsible across the system: 

  • His behaviours and the impacts are no longer invisible when we document and communicate about it with the perpetrator, other services and with survivors.
  • Understanding his behaviours and tactics means we can then hold him accountable for the impacts to his family and hold him responsible for his children’s safety, wellbeing and recovery.
  • Our role is to support opportunity for change with guidance from adult and child survivors

23. 3) Case Management/Accountability plan
Safe and Together tool 

Perpetrator’s Pattern of behavour (described behaviorally) 

Coercive control:

Dean calls Molly a slut and a dog infront of the children. 

Dean has boiled up hot oil and held it over Molly’s head and threatened to pour it over her.

Dean punched Molly in the head causing her to have a mini stroke.

Dean put sugar in the petrol tank so Molly couldn’t leave Dean with the children when she was scared he would hurt her.  

Impact on Child and Family functioning

Children are scared for their mother as worried she will get hurt by Dad. 

Children are scared of their Dad.

Ellie (10 yrs) does not want to go to school and want to stay home to protect their Mum from their Dad. 

Molly was unable to care for her children as in hospital recovering for a period of 2 days due to Dad punching her in the head.

Interventions (including services, compliance with court orders, law enforcement and other expectations)

Dad will cease calling Molly names and belittling her infront of the children.  

Dad will cease punching Molly. 

Dad to cease threatening Molly with objects and verbal threats.  

Dad will allow Molly to leave when she wants to and not damage her car to stop her.

Are they working? (Physical and emotional safety; healing from trauma; stability and nurturance) 

Immediate safety has increased for Molly and the children.

Dean does not deny, deflect and blame his behaviours and actions on Molly.

Dean can acknowledge his destructive behaviours and all the impacts on the children, their mother and himself.

Dean abides by the DVO.

Dean will support the children’s counselling and recovery sessions with their mother.

The children are expressing that they feel safe with their father.

Molly states she feels safer.

 

Ellie returns to school.

Perpetrator’s Pattern of behavour (described behaviorally) 

Intersecting issue e.g substance abuse: Dean states he wants Molly to get off the drugs and pressures her to use them with him. Then tells her that she is no better than him. Dean interferes with Molly seeking to stop using drugs.  

Impact on Child and Family functioning

 

Molly is intoxicated with substances and this impacts her ability to care for the kids and pick them up from school. 

Behavioural description of what has to change in order for the children to be safe/reduce risk

 

Cease bringing drugs to Molly and pressuring her to use and injecting her.

Are they working? (Physical and emotional safety; healing from trauma; stability and nurturance)

Molly is not using substances. Dean tests negative for substances. 

24. 4) Multi-agency work/Integrated Service Response

  • The system cannot do effective DFV work without a coordinated response using a PPBA.
  • Every service using a PPBA means we are always communicating about DFV in the context of his behaviours and the impacts rather than focusing on what the survivor can do. Current failing of ISRs
  • We focus on all the ways we can hold him accountable and responsible across the system to reduce the risk and increase safety.
  • Services who only work with perpetrators have an opportunity to proactively connect with services that are and can partner with survivors for ongoing risk assessment, risk management and effective safety planning - rather safety plans being “done to”.

25. The difference for Sadie and her children if the system defaults to a Perpetrator Pattern Based Approach:

  • Focus on the perpetrator’s behaviour that is source of harm; avoids being deflected to ‘failure to protect’ approach
  • Improved partnership with survivor and children
  • Improved safety plans
  • Engagement and/or intervention with perpetrator (no longer invisible) that can lead to increased safety
  • Support and recovery for survivor and children based on his impacts
  • Evidence for court so magistrates can make informed decisions

26. Question time

27. Continue the conversation…

Please submit questions or comments on the online forum following today’s webinar:

aifs.gov.au/cfca/events/sadies-story-helping-women-affected-domestic-and-family-violence-navigate-fragmented-system

Audio transcript - Sadie’s story: Helping women affected by domestic and family violence navigate a fragmented system

Audio transcript (edited)

MR DEAN: Hello everyone and welcome to today's webinar. Sadie's story helping women affected by domestic and family violence navigate a fragmented system. My name is Adam Dean. I'm a Senior Research Officer with the CFCA information exchange here at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. I'd like to start by acknowledging the traditional custodians and the lands in which we meet in. In Melbourne, the traditional custodians are the Wiradjuri people of the Kulin Nation. I pay my respects to their elders, past and present and to the elders from other communities who may be participating today.

In today's webinar, we are focusing on a case study to help illustrate how women affected by domestic and family violence might experience our service systems. We'll reflect on this case study to look at how policies and practices can be improved helping sure women receive the support they need. We wanted to reiterate that although this case study is based on real accounts and experiences, the name Sadie, is not the real name of the person interviewed in the research. For those attendees who are tuning in from the Northern Territory, we've recently been notified that this name is shared by someone with very similar experiences who tragically died. We understand that legal proceedings in relation to criminal charges over her death are currently underway.

We want to apologise for any distress that listeners familiar with this case in the Northern Territory may experience. We also want to provide a warning to all our attendees that some of the content discussed today might be confronting. If at any time you are feeling affected by the name of the Sadie, or any details of the case study please feel free to leave the webinar. This is understandable. Self-care and looking out for others around you should be a priority.

Finally, I'd like to acknowledge this webinar is presented in collaboration with ANROWS and in consultation with Steven Lock, who is a Practice Leader at the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women, Queensland.

To our presenters, today we are joined by three eminent experts in the field, Dr Rae Kaspiew, Emma Rogers and Jackie Wruck. Rae is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. Rae is a leading socio-legal researcher with particular expertise in Family Law and family violence who currently managers the Family Law and family violence research program at AIFS. Rae was the lead researcher for the ANROWS project but has informed much of this webinar today. Rae will be presenting key findings of this research including key themes from Sadie's story for today's presentation. Following Rae, Emma and Jackie will present together on the implications for practice.

Emma is a domestic and family violence senior practitioner based at the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women in Queensland, where for the past 3 years she has developed and worked in the Walking with Dads program. Emma has 25 years of experience as a social worker here in Australia and also in the UK in the areas of domestic and family violence including woman's refuges. Also working in mental health, youth homelessness, asylum seekers support and in Child Protection. Emma is also a verified Safe & Together trainer. Joining Emma will be Jackie. Jackie is a proud Aboriginal Wyndiji woman from far north Queensland, Yarrabah region and domestic and family violence Senior Project Officer for the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partnerships in Queensland. Jackie's own experience of domestic and family violence led her to becoming a certified Safe & Together trainer and a facilitator and cultural advisor for the Walking with Dads program that works and walks with fathers who have perpetrated violence in their families.

Now finally, I'll hand over to Rae who will be our first presenter. Please give Rae a very warm virtual welcome. Rae.

MS KASPIEW: Thanks, Adam. Now we're going to talk about Sadie's story and use it to help us think about how we can assist women affected by family and domestic violence as they navigate a fragmented service system. Before I start talking about the research that Sadie's story comes from, I just want to let you know that the views expressed in this paper are my views. They are not the views of the Australian Institute of Family Studies or the Australian government or the body that funded the research, the Australian National Research Organisation for Women's Safety. So what – when we think about Sadie's story, the case study that I hope you have all read available on the website, we understand that Sadie's story illustrates a number of significant themes that affect many women who experience domestic and family violence. It shows us about the ongoing impacts of domestic and family violence on women and their children include on their parenting capacity and their relationships with their children. It demonstrates to us how systems abuse has perpetrated by ex-partners and how these women face a fragmented response by the service system that in term allows system abuse to go on.

Sadie's story helps us think about how policies and practices can be improved. So Sadie's story comes from the domestic and family violence and parenting research project. This project focused on three main research questions. We wanted to look at how inter-parental conflict and domestic and family violence affect mother-child and father-child relationships. There was a gap in the research about this. We also wanted to know how mothers who had experienced domestic and family violence perceived this had affected their relationship with their children and we wanted to understand to what extent and to what effect these mothers had, had contact with services and agencies in the Child Protection, Family Law and domestic and family violence systems. These research questions were addressed through a mixed-methods approach. It involved a literature review completed by Dr Leesa Hooker and Professor Angela Taft from the Judith Lumley Centre at La Trobe University. We also looked at longitudinal data. One element of this aspect of the project was an analysis of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children that was lead by Professor Jan Nicholson from La Trobe University and conducted by her team. We also looked at data from the Family Pathways suite of studies, that AIFS operates. This was work that was done by Dr Lixia Qu from AIFS and it focused on the Longitudinal Study of Separated Families and analysis of the cross-sectional Experiences of Separated parents, data sets. The fourth element of the project was a series of interviews with 50 women who had experienced family and domestic violence and used services in relation to their experiences across the child protection, family law, family violence and sectors. This part of the project was done by AIFS in collaboration with Professor Cathy Humphreys and her team from the University of Melbourne. Before I talk about the findings in more depth I just want to let you know about the terminology we're using. So we use the words domestic and family violence where the research constructs and the measures are designed to measure that experience. We also use the term inter-parental conflict which is the way that the measures in LSAC are described. What we want to acknowledge that there is some overlap between these constructs and there is at a particular point in the spectrum a point where IPC might potentially merge into domestic and family violence. So I’m just acknowledging that complexity.

I also want to acknowledge that there are limitations in survey data. They don't necessarily measure the severity of the harm that’s caused by the experience, they don't provide good insight into the power dynamics involved and we don't understand issues around the context such as whether the behaviour is committed in an aggressive or a defensive way. These surveys also potentially underrepresent parents who have experienced severe violence and that’s why we had the interviews with 50 women as a key element of the project.

So I'm just going to briefly highlight some of the findings from the LSAC analysis around psychological distress and the experiences of mothers who report intimate partner conflict. I'll just highlight the findings around clinical levels of psychological distress. When we looked at mothers who reported no IPC we found that one to two per cent of the sample reported clinical levels of distress. This compares with eight to 10 per cent of mothers who had reported persistent IPC. The findings from the Family Pathways Suite of studies analysis shows similar patterns so we found that domestic and family violence negatively impacts relationships, parenting, finances and children. Where parents reported physical hurt and or emotional abuse, this was associated with negative inter-parental relationships and safety concerns. Higher levels of parenting stress increased financial hardship, especially for mothers and poorer outcomes for children and young people. They had poorer general health and development, poorer socio-emotional development and increased behavioural problems.

Turning now to the impact of domestic and family violence on women and children that we found from our interviews with 50 women. The interview data demonstrate that there are mutually reinforcing lasting impacting of domestic and family violence. The women reported that they had ongoing physical and psychological consequences that included post-traumatic stress disorder and high levels of stress and anxiety. They also reported ongoing psychological and sometimes physical consequences for their children. These included sleep problems, behaviour problems and high levels of stress and anxiety.

The mothers in the sample told us that they and their children continued to be exposed to domestic and family violence where they continued to have contact with the perpetrator sometimes as a result of ongoing parenting arrangements. In these circumstances, children continued to be exposed to poor parenting by the ex-partner including abusive behaviours. One of the interesting findings from the interview data concerned fathers abuse of service systems. 29 of the 50 women reported to us that they experienced systems abusive after separation. They reported that they had to engage with multiple systems and services and that at times perpetrators exploited the inconsistencies between these systems and services. Perpetrators engaged in manipulative engagement or non-engagement with services to exhaust the personal and financial resources of women, including their allocations of legal aid. This manipulative engagement included making counter-allegations in proceedings for personal protection orders and in parenting processes and in mediation. It included non-compliance with court orders and with child support obligations and it was linked in some cases such as Sadie's, to some mothers losing contact with children or becoming the non-resident carer on a permanent or temporary bases.

So if we think about Sadie's story we can see that it demonstrates the dramatic impact of financial violence on financial stability, despite the fact that Sadie has been the breadwinner for her family and maintained two jobs prior to separation. She ultimately became homeless and unemployed despite trying to keep her foot in the workforce and support her family for as long as possible. This had a domino effect for her capacity to be the viable carer for her daughter. Despite the violence and abuse, her daughter remained with the father because he had a roof over his head. As a homeless person or a person living in refuge, Sadie was unable to provide accommodation for her daughter.

Sadie's story also demonstrates the fragmented responses to family violence. Child Protection, Family Law and homelessness systems were all involved in the situation but there was no safe solution for Sadie and her daughter. No service provided for all of their needs. The impact of Sadie's ex-partner and his ongoing impact on Sadie and her daughter were not in the line of sight. No one focused on the fact that Sadie was continuing to be exposed to this behaviour and her daughter continued to live with violence, abuse and neglect.

In conclusion, our research showed that there's insufficient attention paid to the impact on mothers and children of father's family violence. It showed that therapeutic support for mother-children relationships is very important but inconsistent access to therapeutic support was reported by the women in our sample. There is an inconsistent focus on recovery in parent-child relationships particularly mother-child relationships in Child Protection and Family Law services, and there are barriers to recovery identified with the domestic and family violence, child abuse and systems abuse perpetrated through post-separation parenting arrangements.

I just want to acknowledge from organisations that greatly contributed to this research including ANROWS which provided the funding. Our advisory group of practitioners that made a big impact to our research and its validity and relevance to practitioners. The Attorney-General's Department funded the Family Pathway Suited studies and LSSF initially was co-funding by FACTCIA. The Australian Government Department of Social Services, The Australian Institute of Family Studies and the Australian Bureau of Statistics are the organisations responsible to LSAC. Thank you very much for your attention I'm now am going to hand over to Emma and Jackie, thank you.

MS ROGERS: Thanks Rae, our practice experience agrees with what you have been saying that the system is fragmented. What Jackie and I are going to focus on for the next 30 minutes is how we as practitioners work within a fragmented system and what we do bring cohesion to increase safety for mothers and children. First, we would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land of where we are delivering this webinar from, on the Sunshine Coast which is the Gubbi Gubbi Kabi Kabi people and pay our respects to their elders, past, present and emerging. We would also like to honour all the mothers and children we have worked with who we have learnt so much from and who inspire us and motivate us to do this work.

Another thing I think that we want to talk about too in time of you know, COVID-19, we know everyone has this on their minds and that the pandemic will increase the impact of domestic and family violence for adult and child survivors and victims. This is why having a cohesive approach focused on perpetrators behaviours and tactics is pivotal to our work as it helps us to identify how he, the perpetrator can use the pandemic to entrap and control her further and how their status of living with the pandemic possibly contracting COVID-19 makes them more vulnerable to his abuse.

MS WRUCK: Thanks Emma, so working with a fragmented system we will refer to Sadie's story as this highlights, in particular, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture is invisible and how we can bat this in everyday practice as well. So what builds cohesive practice? What we have found is having a consistent approach when working with fathers who perpetrate violence against their families. Focused on their behaviours and them as parents across services and not blaming the mother for the harm he is causing, that is our experience in working with services such Child Protection, Probation and Parole, counselling, police, DV services, family support and indigenous services and the court system.

Creating one system that is focused on him as a parent and his parenting choice to use cohesive control as a source of harm for us children whether they're biological or step-children. This is a shift that we have found has made the difference.

MS ROGERS: Yes, and I think if we look at Sadie's story, the father's behaviours are inviable throughout Sadie's story. As Rae states, the impacts on Sadie and her daughter were not in the line of sight. But also the father's role as a parent and his patterns of perpetrating. His behaviours and tactics are hidden, you know they are hidden by him and the current system supports them being invisible by being fragmented and not co-ordinated and as a society, there's a gender double standard. We are not focused on him as a parent compared to mother. It's this paradigm shift to change this that brings the women and children safety sector together to collaborate and makes their work less fragmented.

MS WRUCK: Right, with dad's choices whether good or bad, impact child and family functioning and the absence of seeing him as a parent reinforces that men are not important. Aboriginal men, in particular, are ignored or vilified by our systems. Helping our men is important to the Aboriginal community and we want to value him as a parent equally to her. Sadie's story also highlights how first nation's people's culture is invisible, the system abuse which stems from racism or white privilege hides culture for us people, that means it makes us invisible in systems, services, policy and practice.

I think that is because there is an underlying racist belief that domestic violence is part of our culture. When we view it as part of our culture, indigenous fathers who are using cohesive and controlling behaviours are not held accountable and not given the chance to be supported to change these behaviours. When his behaviours are visible we can safely plan better.

As we see in Sadie's story little engagement with mum and no apparent engagement with dad made for poorer responses and services not being set up to be culturally safe. There was a lack of understanding that if Sadie's partner is not indigenous how will be use racism as part of his patterns of abuse against her and the children and how he has the privilege to use the system to abuse her further?

So now we will cover briefly what guides our practice and then the four areas that build a cohesive approach. So as discussed earlier, a culturally significant approach and a domestic and family violence and form practice together is needed when working with indigenous families who experience family and domestic violence. Our main guide is a Safe & Together model which is a strength-based child-focused and used as a perpetrator pattern-based approach. I like it because it is holistic in working with families and has been in my guide when working with my people.

This model gives language and a frame of reference to assist when working across services. Also using it on the ground, we have seen the crucial difference in the reduction of unnecessary removals of in Child Protection and instead of rescuing children from mothers who have the capacity to care for their children, Child Protection is now focused on him as a parent and now interfering with the father to reduce the risk he possesses to the children and create safety. I don't have time to talk more about this model however there's a link in the resources for the Safe & Together Institute website for you to investigate further. Over to you Emma.

MS ROGERS: Well yeah and I think you know another influencer, our practice on the ground has been participating in several community of practices and now we have had four community practices in Queensland which the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women in Queensland have been involved in. Community of practices has had a tremendous influence on increasing our domestic and family violence inform practice across the agencies and strengthening our multi-agency work together with us, in this community of practice applying the Safe & Together model for our cases. So two of these community practices we've developed research and headed up by Professor Cathy Humphreys with David Mandel and Kyle Pinto from the Safe & Together Institute, and they provide key findings and guide in intervening with fathers as parents use violence. The resources from a visible practice research focuses on key skills identified for working with fathers who use violence and control and there is a link below to this resource on this website.

The second research community practice in Caboolture in Queensland was named STACY which stands for Safe & Together Addressing Complexities and this community practice for all those agencies involved really advanced our knowledge further looking at domestic and family violence and the intersections with complexities with substance misuse, mental health issues and developing a guide from STACY, from this research which will no doubt be on the ANROWS website that we can use for our practice on the ground.

The other influencing guide for us in our practice has been the Walking with Dads program which is a real unique program that both Jackie and I have been involved with. So it's an initiative by the Queensland Department of Child and Safety, Youth and Women and has been in operation since 2016. It's in four Child Safety service centres which is Caboolture, Gympie, Caloundra and Mount Isa and it's where a DV specialist works in the Child Safety service centre to embed the Safe & Together model and focus on a response to fathers who perpetrate domestic and family violence.

So the Walking with Dads worker just to give you an idea, contributes to the overall case management of the family, has a specific focus on perpetrator accountability and the need for intervention with the father. You know, as we know historically fathers have been invisible in Child Safety work leading to that you know failure to protect model which blames and holds mothers responsible for father's abuse against the family. So the Walking with Dads practice is built upon two strong foundations, so the first is that the safety of mothers and children is paramount and the second, is that the partnership with the mothers and sometimes children as well, and young people we partner with them too is the foundation from which to plan the family safety and effective intervention with fathers.

So – and Walking with Dads is also, focuses on supporting fathers in their behaviour change journey. So that's sort of a little overview of our influences that have guided our practice. So we'll just go on to that next slide.

MS WRUCK: Thanks, Emma. So we're up to the key areas of focus for cohesion and integration so my mate Emo and I have been trying to think about key focus areas that make a difference, and we've come up with four. Can we have a drumroll, please? And we'll address each of them.

MS ROGERS: Okay.

MS WRUCK: So Emma with the perpetrator base.

MS ROGERS: Okay. So, the perpetrator pattern-based approach we see is a Safe & Together model term and we see as an essential key area that you need in actually bringing cohesion to the services. So, basically having this approach is it focuses on safety, so it focuses on the patterns of coercive control, and it's effective because it identifies the perpetrator's pattern as a source of harm instead of mum's choices, or relationship status, or living arrangements which we have seen happen when we've been involved in those multi-agency working. So, it's the domestic violence perpetrator and his pattern of behaviour as a source of harm, what we look at for risk, and not the adult survivor. So, 'Is she going to leave?' We'll then shift to instead, 'What are his behaviours and tactics?' So, mapping his behaviours is an effective way to understand the risk he poses to her and the kids and actually gives us that full risk assessment.

MS WRUCK: So, the perpetrator pattern-based approach names the behaviours and does not attack the man's essence. And that's very important for indigenous people, as we don't want - you know, our people don't - our women don't want our men to be oppressed further. And this has led to suicides or incarcerations, mistreatment by authorities, and this is based on our history, this occurring. So, with my mum, she didn't want my dad incarcerated and she wanted someone to support Dad to stop and help him, but that never occurred. When we don't see the importance of men's behaviours, we're kind of out of alignment with the adult and child survivors' experiences of reality.

So, Aboriginal people are more communal in our values, so Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men have been marginalised and targeted. So, having a framework around the importance of fathers' behaviours and choices to the family is culturally safe, because it reinforces the idea that helping men is important to the health of the community. So, I want you to think about, you know, help - help us to - it helps us to identify domestic violence perpetrators, their roles in the family harm, as well as the positive input non-violent fathers are having. And it gives us a way to start equalizing out our expectations of men and women as parents. I'm not in any way trying to excuse his behaviours, but I can tell you, that Aboriginal women want the community to be able to address this.

Mum loved my dad, and we loved our dad, and my mum did not want our family to be split up. Like most Aboriginal women, we do not want to leave, you know, our community or the father of our children, and we want services that can address their behaviours and give our men the opportunity to change. Again, the mother and children will guide our intervention and we must respect Aboriginal women in their views. We must take their lead as they will tell us what is the safest way to intervene. Again, like we have said, focusing on his behaviours takes the blame from Mum and it directs it back to the source of harm of the child and family functioning. This is important for child safety as they often work from a failure to protect model, which actually blames Mum for fathers' destructive behaviours and the harm to children.

So, I'm going over to key No.2 which is about partnering, and partnering as a default position. And I must say, this is essential to our work. And if you are not doing it, you're probably doing unsafe work. If you are thinking about working across the system and you're a service that doesn't engage with survivors, then I suggest you engage and connect with a service which is partnering with the survivor just to create safer work. We listen closely to her experiences and map his patterns of behaviour in order to inform safety planning and interventions with the dad. When we partner well, we identify all the actions she has taken to keep her children safe and what has worked in the past and we can see how we can enhance her safety plan. So, like the slide says, the strength-based technique is where we are all in alliance and partners in safety with the survivor.

If we partner well with her, what we find is that his - we find his pattern of coercive control and the details and the themes of the abuse, we find out what she is doing to keep the children and herself safe, we actually discover best ways that we can help keep her and the children safe and how we can actually intervene with him safely because we need her lead on that. We also identify who are influencing family members and friends to help hold him accountable and responsible for safety, and evidence of - we gain evidence of increased safety and parenting improvements that Dad has made. So, to sort of demonstrate this, I probably would like - well, Emma and I are going to do a roleplay. So, I'm home alone, not like the little kid, but anyway, Emma is the worker and I'm the survivor and Emma's come to see me at my home to talk about an incident.

MS ROGERS: Okay. So, I'm first going to, like, talk to you Jackie in a non-partnering way, okay? So I'm going to do that first. So here I go.

MS WRUCK: Okay.

MS ROGERS: So, Jackie, I'm here to talk to you about a DV incident that you and your partner were involved in and how this is unsafe for your kids. I'm going to talk to you about how you both need to stop DV because our role is to keep your kids safe. So, what I'd like to see you do is not let Dad back in the home, I'd like you to take a DV order out or a protection order to stop him and - so this doesn't happen again, and he can't come in the home. And I - when I come back I'd like to see that he's not here because if he is here, I probably have to report you. So, that's the non-partnering way, so how did you feel when I spoke to you in this non-partnering way?

MS WRUCK: Oh, Emma. I didn't feel good. I felt like it was my responsibility and that Emma thought I was involved in the violence, and she lumped me in with Dad. So she kind of mutualised the behaviours and I was just as guilty as him. So, as an Aboriginal woman, I was fearful for my kids being removed, and she actually separated my kids' safety from me, as she wasn't worried about my safety. And then she made it - made me feel uneasy and that she believes that the kids are safer without me. I also felt that you know, she thinks she knows better than me then, you know, asking me to get a DVO. I know that the DVO may not protect me or my children. So, the other thing is that I'm under five foot, and my partner's six-foot, how am I going to stop him from coming in the home? I'm buggered. So - - -

MS ROGERS: Yeah.

MS WRUCK: Yeah, please, Emma, can we do the partnering way? Because I'm feeling a bit unsafe here.

MS ROGERS: Okay. Okay. So now I'm going to do it in a partnering way. Okay. So, Jackie, I'm here to talk to you about your partner's behaviours and his role as a dad, and how I'm really worried about your safety and your kids' safety. I know that you are doing a whole heap of things to keep your kids safe and well, and I'd really like to talk to you further about this. And also about how I can work with Dad to assist him to be safer with you and the kids. I really want to take your lead on what's best for you and the kids and how I can work with Dad to help him be a safer dad. So, how did you feel when I just used the partnering way to talk to you?

MS WRUCK: I felt much better, thanks, Em. I wasn't blamed for his behaviours for starters, um, and I felt that you cared about me and my kids and you actually saw me as a protector, and that you are looking to take my lead on how to work with him. So that really made me happy. You also included that he was accountable and you said you wanted to support him to be a safer dad, so I felt that you're not trying to split the family up, and you didn't want to totalise him by his violence. And instead, you wanted to work with me and not forcing me to do things that were going to make me unsafe, so thank you.

MS ROGERS: Okay. Well, that's good. So look, that conversation leads us to holding Dad accountable and responsible as a parent, so that takes us to the key area No.3, so we'll go onto that. So, holding him accountable or responsible across the system, his behaviours and the impacts are no longer invisible when we document and communicate about it with the perpetrator, other services, and with survivors like we were just doing then in the partnering. We are then actually seeing his behaviours and him using those behaviours as a parent in choice. So, his responsibility is much more than not being violent, it's rethinking what his role is as a father and having higher expectations how he will support the mother and be a safer dad.

So, naming his behaviours and impacts on the kids and the family functioning family ensures that he is held accountable for his decision to use violence. And services asking him what he is doing for the safety, healing, nurture and stability of his children will enable us to question his parenting and focus him on his parenting responsibilities, and hold him to the same standards as we do for Mum. So that's I think really important. Our experience is that dads are motivated by being better fathers. So, this is the area we want to focus on across the system, and where we have had the most success in fathers reducing and ceasing violence as well and - so what we have found that when we have done that and the system, so services such as probation, parole, neighbourhood centres, other services involved when we're talking and using the language of accountability across the system we actually have a much better impact on him and motivating him to cease and reduce behaviours.

So, I'm just going to go onto the next slide just to give an example of a tool that we use, it's a Safe & Together tool and it's known as the case plan grid, or we call it sometimes the accountability plan or risk management plan, and it demonstrates how we on one document can have his patterns of coercive controlling behaviours, we have the impacts on the kids and the family functioning that his behaviours have caused, and we also have on that plan what we want him to change and then who can support this change and how we know it will be different. So, it's a document - so if we go to the next slide we'll see this plan and we can see how this is a document that we can use across the system, across services. So, we don't have time to go through all of the detail on that document, but I just want to draw you to a few things on that document.

So, if you look under, for instance, 'Interventions,' you can see the different services that in this case were involved with this father. So, we had police who were monitoring him and breaching him if he doesn't abide by the order, we've got child safety involved, we've got probation parole involved, we've got behaviour change involved. So it shows you - it's really clear about what services are involved and what they are going to do in regards to holding him accountable and responsible. And so I think that the other thing I wanted to focus on here but most importantly that - is the last column focuses on the change we need to see. Because this is not about him attending services, rather, his commitment to demonstrate as a father that he's choosing behaviours that are safe for his kids and family.

So you can see there that what we need to see is that immediate safety has increased for the kids, that he can acknowledge his destructive behaviours and the impacts on the children and their mother, that he's abiding by the DVO. So, there's a list of things that we can put there that we know that there's change. What's fantastic about this tool and what - how we've used it is that this is, again, designed and created with mothers and children and young people. So they actually - so in this case, this is a de-identified case, this is a mother who's actually said what his behaviours are, the impact on her and the kids, and what she wants to see change. So, I think that's again where mothers and children and young people are leading the intervention with fathers. And, you know, we might have some more questions about this and we can discuss that further at the end of our presentation.

So, this takes us to the last key area, No.4, which is, we've got to have multi-agency work and an integrated service response if we're going to do this well. And the system just can't do this effectively unless we're using a perpetrator pattern-based approach. So, if we've got every service using a perpetrator pattern-based approach it means that we're always communicating about his behaviours and the impacts these behaviours cause rather than focusing on what the survivor can do. And that's really what we've seen as the current failings of integrated service responses on the ground, is that we end up focusing on mothers and what they're doing, when we really want to talk to - across these services we really want to talk about his behaviours, the patterns of his behaviours, and the impacts on the kids and family functioning.

So, just going to that next one there, we want to focus always on how we can hold him accountable and responsible, and services again who - I think Jackie you spoke to this, but services who only work with perpetrators have an opportunity and need to proactively connect with services that are partnering with survivors for ongoing risk assessment, risk management and effective safety planning. Rather - and checking in with her, rather than safety plans being done to survivors, instead survivors are there, you know, leading the way and that, that's really important. Okay. So over to you, Jackie.

MS WRUCK: So, I just want to bring up that multi-agency work needs to include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations or identified staff. For indigenous dads it's important to have indigenous services that's designing behaviour change programs and not just anger management or parenting programs, they need to work with dads and speak to coercive control and behaviour change. Domestic and family violence is not men's business, it's everyone's business, and it's important to note for non-indigenous fathers, their responsibility is to support their children's healing and connection to culture, as that's very important for our Aboriginal children's identity as an Aboriginal child. So, the last slide, and we want to see the difference for Sadie and her children, you know, in a very cohesive system, so some of the good things is that we're focused on the perpetrator's behaviours as the source of harm, and avoids being deflected to failure to protect approach.

It improves partnerships with the survivor and children, and it improves our safety planning, engagement and/or intervention with perpetrators no longer invisible. They can now - that can lead to increased safety, support and recovery for survivors and children based on his impacts, and evidence for court so that magistrates can make informed decisions because, in Sadie's case, she didn't have an affidavit and no one thought about capturing what's going on for her and the children. Sadie would have felt, you know, believed, listened to and safe to disclose information without fearing any repercussions on her and her children. And she would have felt some form of self-determination for having a say on what safety looks like for her and the children and have family that she trusted and needed in her life, not a, 'He sort of wanted to be present.' So, thank you.

MR DEAN: Well, thank you very much, Jackie and Emma, and thank you to Rae. We're going to go to some questions now, thank you to everyone who's submitted a question, there's many of you on the line so we'll try and get to as many questions as possible. I just want to check that Jackie, Rae and Emma can hear me at the moment?

MS ROGERS: Yes.

MR DEAN: Can you just give a shout out?

MR LOCK: We can.

MR DEAN: Yep, you can, yep, great.

MS KASPIEW: I'm good, Adam.

MS WRUCK: Yep. I'm good.

MR DEAN: Brilliant. Okay, so I've got a - the first question that we'll go to is probably - oh, and I should just say Steven Lock is going to join us for the Q and A session too, so thank you, Steve, for joining us. The first question that we have, this is probably best addressed by Emma and Jackie or Steve. So, what would be the most useful thing that a practitioner could do to help someone in Sadie's position?

MS ROGERS: So, it's Emma here. I'm just - I think that probably what we would say is what would be the most important thing is to do partnering with Sadie, so that was that key area 2 that we discussed. If we're thinking about that safety is paramount for Sadie and her child or, you know, for women and children, this is the first step in understanding the risk he poses to her and the children and what she's already doing in the context of his abuse and keeping her and the kids safe. So, I would say that would be your starting point.

MS WRUCK: Yeah.

MS ROGERS: Did you want to add at all, Jackie or Steve?

MS WRUCK: Yeah, I wouldn't mind saying a couple of things. You right, Steve?

MR LOCK: After you, Jackie, yeah.

MS WRUCK: Yeah. I just want to say, like, probably the partnering is the most important thing. So, probably don't assume especially with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, you know, families and women and stuff like that. Be careful on how you approach the situation and language is very important, so to build that trust to start with is your key thing. From that trust and that rapport, you're going to start getting information that's going to be crucial to, you know, mapping behaviours. So, don't assume anything. And I think you have to engage, like, as many people - Indigenous organisations as you can but, you know, make sure that everyone's DV informed, don't put culture over safety.

MS ROGERS: Yeah.

MR LOCK: Thanks. Thanks, Jackie and Emma.

MS ROGERS: Thanks Jackie, Steve.

MR LOCK: Yeah, I just wanted - it's Steve. I just wanted to add, I couldn't agree more to what Emma and Jackie have said. The thing about the partnership is that in lots of ways it's - the Walking with Dads work we've done over the last three or four years, the partnership becomes a foundation. You know, one of the mistakes you can make is thinking that this way of working, the thing to do is to get out and engage for dads and engage the perpetrators, but I think what we've learnt and Safe & Together has been so influential is that a partnership with the mother, the victim, is the foundation from which you do that work with him. So, I think it's a mistake to think that you can do work with him without either you or someone in your professional network having built a strong partnership with the mother. Because the two things are so dependent on each other.

MS WRUCK: Yeah.

MR DEAN: Thank you, really good responses there. We have another question for Jackie, Emma and Steve. How can we hold the perpetrator accountable if we don't or cannot work with him?

MS WRUCK: Steve?

MR LOCK: Um - - -

MS WRUCK: I thought you - - -

MR LOCK: I think that this is a big question that comes up all the time, you know, like, the work that all three of us do that this will be a common thing, it will be the sense of either, 'My agency doesn't work with dads, perpetrators,' or it'll be, 'We try to, but they just won't have anything to do with us,' or, 'We can't find them, or they're evasive or abusive.' And the answer here is really important, it's that actual accountability can be achieved, Emma and Jackie talked about it very well, can be achieved through documentation. It can be achieved through much more diligently recording what he is doing and he isn't doing. And it can be achieved by making notes that say, 'I phone him, and he told me that it wasn't his problem,' we should be speaking to the mother.

Making a case note that says that and then adding some comment to it that the - in your view, in your assessment, this means that he was taking no responsibility for the welfare of his children. And maybe feeding that back to him that that's the kind of case note you're making. And Emma and Jackie talked about perpetrator behaviour mapping, that's another really important part of accountability. So, if you can really diligently document what he's doing and how it's arming the family, that is accountability, you don't even need to see him.

MS ROGERS: Yeah. Yep. I think even how we talk to survivors about him, that you have to have a language of accountability in that, you know, that we're talking about - and that's certainly what we've - you know, how we tried to shift in child protection, is talking about him as the problem, we're involved because of his behaviours. And that roleplay that we did was really demonstrating that, that that was accountability even how we're talking to her about him and his behaviours.

MR LOCK: Yeah. Absolutely.

MR DEAN: Thank you. I'm not sure if Rae had anything to add to that, or we might go to another question?

MS KASPIEW: I'm happy to take more questions, Adam. I think Jackie, Emma and Steve have covered it admirably.

MR DEAN: All righty. So we have another question which leads on from the last one, and I think it's just a question of kind of clarification. And the question is, how do you engage fathers in this work and are they court-ordered to participate?

MS ROGERS: I was just going to just check, do they mean in this work in regards to Walking with Dads I'm thinking, is that what we think that means? Or - - -

MR DEAN: Well perhaps just respond to - yeah, perhaps just in that program, but if even more broadly - - -

MS ROGERS: Yeah.

MR DEAN: - - - if you can - yeah.

MS ROGERS: Yeah.

MR DEAN: Consider more broadly, yep.

MS ROGERS: Well, actually, Walking with Dads is not, it's actually voluntary engagement, so it's not - you know, it's not court-ordered, it's not, you know, the - you know, probation, parole, community corrections in regards to, you know, when we work in Walking with Dads. We can certainly work with them to - you know, that we're all on the same page, that's really why we like those risk management or accountability plans that we're all working together. But I think that sometimes, yeah, fathers are mandated to do things, sometimes they're not mandated but, you know, we have found that we have a range of responses from fathers who use violence and abuse when they're mandated and when they're not as well and of course, you know if we're working in child protection we're motivating them around their kids. So, you know, we're - we want to work with them so they're - you know, they're safer and better-connected fathers. So, we have found that is a motivator for working with fathers that use violence and abuse.

MS WRUCK: That's right. I just wanted to add that when we are engaging the fathers it's all about their role as a parent and their role as a father and what that means. So, once you start going away into a way where it's about behaviour and how that's affecting their children then you see a different, you know, attitude in regards to them wanting to work with you or not. So, you're not going to save everyone, but yeah, you definitely get that shift when they see that - you know, because most of the time these guys don't want to perpetrate, all right? These guys just don't know, and they don't have anyone to help them work through sorts of things that are probably being second and third generation now of domestic and family violence, so language is very important in how you engage them, and always pivot back to the children.

MR LOCK: And I would add to what - - -

MR DEAN: Thanks, Emma and Jackie - go on, Steve. Sorry.

MR LOCK: I would just add to what Jackie says, because I think it's so important that Jackie says that, you know, we recognise them as a parent. And that thing about their motivation around their kids, one of the things we're saying is, well, as a parent, the way to be a good dad, a good parent, is to support the mothers of your children. So, we're not allowing them to kind of just say, 'Oh, I am nice to the kids, but she's my problem.' We're kind of making it very clear that, actually, if you care about your kids, you've got to support the mother of your kids. So, we're really - we're not allowing them to kind of slip away on, 'I'm only' - you know, 'I'm only doing this for the kids,' we're making it very clear that - - -

MS WRUCK: Yep.

MR LOCK: - - - as a co-parent, your respectful support for the children's mother is absolutely what it's about.

MS ROGERS: Yeah. That's true.

MS WRUCK: Because - sorry to hark on, but because through colonisation they lost their role as parents and, you know, as a caregiver and stuff like that, so that all comes into play. And if we start showing that we support - we want to support them as parents, you know, you get a different attitude and stuff like that. Thank you.

MR DEAN: Thank you all, we really appreciate your responses to that question. I'm just mindful of the time. We're going to extend this for another maybe five minutes, but in recognition of anyone's time, if you need to jump off the webinar now, please feel free to do that because the webinar will be recorded and will be made available on the CFCA website soon. But if you are able to join us for another five minutes we'll get to some more questions. So, another question that's come through is, what if your work with the perpetrator might make things worse or dangerous for the mother and the kids? How would you respond in a practical way to that situation?

MS WRUCK: Em, you want to go first or - - -

MS ROGERS: Oh, me?

MR DEAN: Yeah, Emma. Do you want to answer that, if you can?

MR LOCK: We might have lost Emma.

MR DEAN: We may have lost Emma.

MS WRUCK: We must have.

MS ROGERS: Oh, no, sorry about that. I'm back again, sorry, I was stuck on mute there. Yeah, this is going to bring us - can you hear me?

MR DEAN: Yes, we can. Take it away.

MS ROGERS: Okay, sorry about that. Yeah, well this is going to bring us back to the partnering because when we are intervening with fathers, mothers are a lead on that. And children too, I mean, what we've found in doing this work, we're asking children and young people too about how we're engaging with dads and what we can talk to him about and what we can safely say without any repercussions for mum and the kids. So, that's why the partnering is the foundation of the work and, you know, we would say that it's real concentrating partnering, everything that we do with him before we meet with him, we talk with her afterwards, we check back in with her and the kids. So it's really based on that partnering. And of course mum's the lead and she'll tell you what's safe and what's not safe, and those grids that we put up there, that accountability plan, is a great way to do that. We've had mums that have put all the behaviours and impacts and then they've highlighted with a highlighter what we can talk to him about, and then over time they might say, 'Yep, now I want you to talk to him about this,' and they highlight what we can talk to him about safely. So, again, you know, it just brings us back to that partnering.

MR DEAN: Thank you, Emma. Due to the present situation and we are all working by telephone with no face-to-face allowed, how can we best check that the mother and her children are safe and okay? Do you have any thoughts about that? Either Steve, Jackie or Emma. And I think we've lost Emma again, but Steve, did you have anything to say?

MR LOCK: Yeah, I can probably comment, you know, I mean it's a rapidly evolving situation with COVID obviously, and I think we're at a hugely challenging point because the question has raised this issue, you know, again and it's come up again and again in our work in the last few weeks. Basically COVID is a huge opportunity for some men, some perpetrators, to isolate and control mothers. And we know that those situations make mothers, victims more vulnerable and their children more vulnerable. I'll try and say one or two things, but I'd also strongly recommend that people go to the Safe & Together website where David Mandel is every day putting on new material about how best to manage in this situation. I mean, the question - rather than give you kind of, you know, perfect answers, the question really becomes how can you maintain those kinds of partnerships that Emma and Jackie are describing in the situation where you can't see her face-to-face, and you're then trying to deal with a situation where phone calls or Skype links or any other form of communication may be monitored by her partner, the perpetrator. So, I'm not going to attempt to give the definitive answers to those questions, but it just gives another big piece of thinking that needs to be done about how you build partnerships in the absence of one-on-one direct contact with mothers, victims. Jackie, did you want to add?

MS WRUCK: Yeah, look, I think that's a very difficult question there and, you know, I'm just wanting to say that if you have been working with a mother in the past hopefully before COVID had occurred that there was that safety plan that you were doing with her, and should this happen, what would you do. So, I'd probably be looking at every resource that you can get out there, especially David Mandel's and any other ones that you can get just to see how to approach that because every situation is different. And depending on

MR LOCK: And I'd certainly add

MS WRUCK: on your relationship.

MR LOCK: I'd certainly say that you know, if there's ever a time when multi-agency, cross-agency communication and planning is critical, it's now. Because it really means that - - -

MS WRUCK: Yes.

MR LOCK: sometimes, of course, the domestic violence services are the very best people in understanding how we might be able to communicate with mothers safely. So, it's always critical that we do a lot of cross-agency assessment, risk management, but it's probably more important than ever right now. Because probably no one agency's going to have all the answers, you know as if they're (indistinct).

MR DEAN: Well thanks everyone for participating today. Once again I would like to acknowledge and thank ANROWs for collaborating to produce this webinar. For more information about the research projects discussed throughout the presentation including Domestic and Family Violence and Parenting, Mix Methods Insights into Impact and Support Needs by Dr Rae Kaspiew and the research reports Invisible Practices and the Patricia Project lead by Professor Cathy Humphry’s you can find those on the ANROWS website. A recording of the webinar will be made available both on the CFCA and ANROWS websites.

WEBINAR CONCLUDED

IMPORTANT INFORMATION - PLEASE READ

The transcript is provided for information purposes only and is provided on the basis that all persons accessing the transcript undertake responsibility for assessing the relevance and accuracy of its content. Before using the material contained in the transcript, the permission of the relevant presenter should be obtained.

The Commonwealth of Australia, represented by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), is not responsible for, and makes no representations in relation to, the accuracy of this transcript. AIFS does not accept any liability to any person for the content (or the use of such content) included in the transcript. The transcript may include or summarise views, standards or recommendations of third parties. The inclusion of such material is not an endorsement by AIFS of that material; nor does it indicate a commitment by AIFS to any particular course of action.

This webinar was held on Wednesday 1 April 2020. Please post your comments and questions below.

Research continues to show the effects of domestic and family violence (DFV) on women and their children. In particular, it has highlighted:

  • the impact of DFV on parenting and parent–child relationships
  • the challenges for women of trying to navigate a fragmented service system
  • the need to improve practices to better meet the needs of women and children.

This webinar focused on one woman’s story of DFV. Sadie (not her real name) is an Aboriginal woman and mother of two. Her story sheds light on how fragmented service systems can often fail to meet women's needs, and may even exacerbate the challenges they experience at the intersection of gender and racial inequality.

Reflecting on Sadie’s story, this webinar invites practitioners to consider how services can help women navigate the system to ensure they receive the support they need. In considering its implications, presenters also discussed approaches to working collaboratively across different service systems and explored culturally safe ways of working with Aboriginal women affected by DFV.

This webinar is of interest to professionals working in the fields of DFV, family law, child protection, family relationship services, housing and related services.

*Sadie is not the real name of the woman interviewed in the research, but a name chosen to protect privacy and confidentiality.

Read Sadie’s story

  • Sadie’s story
    This case study is drawn from research published in the Domestic and Family Violence and Parenting: Mixed Method Insights into Impact and Support Needs research report led by Dr Rae Kaspiew and published by ANROWS.

Related resources

This webinar was presented in collaboration with ANROWS and in consultation with Steven Lock, Practice Leader (Domestic and Family Violence), Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women, Queensland.


ANROWS (Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety) logo

Featured image: GettyImages/NoSystem images

About the presenters

Dr Rae Kaspiew

Rae is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS). Rae is a leading socio-legal researcher with particular expertise in family law and family violence. She manages the Family Law and Family Violence research program at AIFS. She has been involved in an extensive range of studies and is the lead author of two large-scale evaluations of successive waves of reforms in family law (the 2006 and 2012 reforms). Rae is also on the editorial board of the Australian Journal of Family Law and is second author on a family law textbook used widely in universities.

 

Rae was Principal Legal Officer on the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Family Law Inquiry (2017–19). She was on the Advisory Group for the Australian Law Reform Commission’s reference on safeguarding the rights of older Australians (2016). Other advisory roles have included membership of the Family Law Council (2009–16), a body that provides policy advice on family law to the federal Attorney-General and as a member of the Violence Against Women Advisory Group (2009–11) that advised the federal Minister for the Status of Women on the implementation of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women.

Emma Rogers

Emma has 25 years of experience working in the social work field in Australia and the UK in the areas of Domestic and Family Violence (women’s refuges), Mental Health, Youth Homelessness, Asylum seeker support and Child Protection. Emma currently works for the Queensland Government Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women as a Regional Domestic and Family Violence Senior Practitioner. For the past three years she has developed and worked in the Walking with Dads Program – an innovative program that has a strong partnering foundation with mothers and children to create intervention for fathers, to hold them accountable and responsible for their destructive behaviours to increase safety and wellbeing for families. Emma is also a certified Safe & Together Trainer.

Jackie Wruck

Jackie Wruck is a proud Aboriginal Yindinji woman from Far North Queensland, Yarrabah region and Cultural Practice Advisor for at the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women in Queensland. Jackie’s own experience of domestic and family violence led her to becoming a certified Safe & Together trainer, and a facilitator and cultural advisor for the Walking with Dads program that works with, and walks with, fathers who have perpetrated violence in their families. Working with families all of her life, Jackie is a vocal advocate for families and passionate about keeping children out of the child protection system and making sure families’ voices are heard.

Questions and comments

interested on how I can learn more to support families in these circumstances
Yvette cairns
An excellent session, very engaging and informative - thank you to all.
Menka Tsantefski
Question 1: Do you have any advice for increasing safety when working with non-engaging fathers that live in the home? Question 2: Is there any advice on connecting with family and friends in a culturally appropriate way, to hold perpetrators accountable for their behaviours and responsibilities as parents?
Robyn Munday
Always do some prep work before visiting the family (mapping). We always try and engage the mother without the father first as she will be a guide on how to safely engage the father for the family and for worker safety. We are very creative to make sure we can engage her without the father present and the times we can’t meet her by herself we will not discuss his violence when they are together and instead carefully use that meeting to find times we can engage with the mother without him present. When engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, it is always good to know that you have the right people in the room. Always take her lead in regards to who is safe and supportive for her and the kids and who is a positive influence for the father who does not collude. Such as family and community members (uncle, cousin, grandparent or Elder). Try and include them in safety planning for the family however again the survivors would lead this. Family, kin and community may be able to de-escalate him and be a positive role model. Often we would put family and community in the intervention support section in the Accountability plan designed by survivors.
Emma and Jackie
thankyou for today - very enlightening.
Jennifer McGrath
I am interested to know what strategies a worker can use when the non-controlling partner is unable / unwilling to make any disclosures, and will go to all lengths to minimise / deny DFV within the household. I understand this is a protective response, however am at a loss sometimes as to how I, or other agencies, can safely connect with a woman in this situation.
Jane Jackson
Is the mother in fear of giving information and you making it more unsafe for her and her kids? Is the mother Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and her reasons for not disclosing fear of losing child to authorities? To understand the reasons she is not disclosing means you would need to have a solid partnership with the mother. When you understand the reasons and let her know you understand her reasons for non-disclosure, then she is more likely to engage with you as you have the same goal to keep her and the kids safe. It all depends if she sees you as a threat or a partner. I would suggest you refer to the Safe and Together Model Website to understand the partnering steps as too lengthy for to answer here.
Emma and Jackie
Hi, unfortunately the time slot of 10am seemed to be incorrect for Queensland, 1 checked in at 11am and for some time after. Unfortunately i didn't get to see the presentation if it was after 12pm. It sounded very interesting, and look forward to the next one. Thank you.
Roselyn Howard
Hi Roselyn A recording of the presentation, including powerpoint slides, audio and transcript, will be made available on this page shortly soon. You can also subscribe to the CFCA News to be notified once the it is available: http://aifs.gov.au/cfca/subscribe
Mitchell Bowden
How can I access a recording of yesterday's webinar? Cheers, Janine.
Janine Kemp
Hi Janine A recording of the presentation, including powerpoint slides, audio and transcript, will be made available on this page soon. You can also subscribe to the CFCA News to be notified once the webinar recording is available: http://aifs.gov.au/cfca/subscribe
Mitchell Bowden
Loved it looking forward to the next webinar
samantha
How do we encourage men to value care, patience and compassion instead of shaming them in a culturally sensitive way so as to include them in the accountability plan?
Sharon
Our role is not to shame fathers instead invite them to focus and educate them on the impacts of their behaviours on their children and to address their actions that harm children. In our experience we have a lot of fathers who experience shame for their behaviours and the impacts of these behaviours on their children and we also have some that don’t. In relation to behaviours our role is not to take their shame away as when we do that we collude. What we do is bring them back to thinking about their children and what they can do now for the safety, stability, recovery and wellbeing for their children. In some ways, I (Emma) find it is a very positive experience for fathers. As a non-Indigenous white woman working for Child Protection I need to be thinking about my white privilege and the status of the organisation I’m representing and how we can both cause fear, sadness and shame for the Aboriginal and Torres-Strait Islander families I work with. Therefore I need to acknowledge the trauma and racism still experienced by Aboriginal and Torres-Strait Islander people due to colonisation and continued colonisation when engaging. I also need to consult with my Aboriginal and Torres-Strait Islander colleagues and where possible co- work or give the option for an Indigenous practitioner to engage with the father, mother and family. The accountability plan is developed with the mother, young people and children. This provides the guide on how we intervene and engage with him. Sometimes fathers are not privy to the plan, sometimes only part of the plan and sometimes all of the plan depending on the adult and child survivors lead. This plan is not developed with the father instead developed for the father. This opportunity for mothers, young people and children to develop these plans is also a very positive experience. With survivors expressing that they are given a voice in this process and feel listened to, feel supported by the system and assists them with their recovery process. The mum and child develop the accountability grid. When we speak with dads, we talk to him about what he can do to contribute to the child and family functioning and allow him to talk about how his behaviours do not contribute positively to the wellbeing of the kids. Our aim is not to shame him, however, he may come with shame without us contributing to his shame. We must sit with him in this shame if Indigenous and give him time to respond.
Emma and Jackie
Hi, I understand that fathers are motivated by their desire to be better fathers. However, the desire for power and control can be a strong need also. How do you work to assist men change their desire for control?
Julie
Nearly all fathers we have worked with have never been engaged with as a parent and that their behaviours have never been framed as parenting choices. This not occurring reflects the gender double standard we have for mothers and fathers. Engaging with him as a parent at the forefront of practice changes the work by having expectations of him like we have of mothers. That is to keep the kids safe, well, support their recovery, meet their needs etc. WWD always brings it back to the children. So his desire to control the mother and family becomes, how does his desire to control the mother and family impact the children and the family functioning. Always pivot back to the impact it has on the children. Most men do not want their children to be afraid of them.
Emma and Jackie
How do you engage father's in this work? Are they court ordered to participate?
Peta
Walking with Dads (WWD) is a Child Protection program which is for families in the Child Protection system and is voluntary however when we are working with Community Corrections they may put a direction to work with WWD. However most of the time it is voluntary.
Emma and Jackie
What can be done, if perpetrators refuse to engage in support/programs, and if the judicial system is letting down survivors? E.g. lack of consequences, etc
Thuy
It is very individual depending on the plan. If they refuse to work with us, then we advise that we will be documenting his lack of engagement and willingness to keep his children safe. Our work is not reliant on Behaviour Change Programs but on what he is committed to do for the safety and wellbeing for his children and the feedback from adult and child survivors if he followed through on that commitment. If he hasn’t we hold him accountable to that as to why he hasn’t. We know fathers have attended Behaviour Change programs and not changed behaviours and some that have. We would focus on his commitment to his children and if he isn’t attending a program then we would want to know why he does not want support to be a safer and better connected Dad. What makes WWD special and innovative is that it intervenes with dads/perpetrators from an imperative of partnering with mothers/children – too often traditional perpetrator intervention has been disconnected from both parenting and from genuine alliance with mothers (as survivors). Also we focus on multi-agency work (Integrated Service Response) as having a system that holds men accountable is the most successful in increasing safety for adult and child survivors/victims. Our role is to work with the judicial system so they are aware of the risk he poses and what the mother is doing to keep the children safe and we have done this in the past using the Safe and Together Model mapping tool converted into a report. This means documentation is crucial. Again everything we do is based on having a partnering foundation with survivors and that means our actions are always guided by survivors. Whilst we may not be able to change the judicial system our role is to support survivors by believing them and acknowledging the injustice of the system and validating their efforts to keep their kids safe and well.
Emma and Jackie
From your experience, does the perpetrator need to be on a particular section of the cycle of change for this to be effective?
Thalia
No
Emma and Jackie
How do you map perpetrator patterns of behaviour? Is there a reliance on self-report?
Julie
We map perpetrators patterns of coercive control using the Safe and Together Model mapping tool please refer to the Safe and Together Website to learn more about this tool. The information is gathered for the mapping by adult and child survivors’ information, from child protection history, police reports, DV risk assessments, depending who is involved in our multi-agency work.
Emma and Jackie
Hi. I am wondering about how effective these interventions with perpetrators are if they have intellectual and learning disabilities, and can it be adapted to meet different learning needs? I know that the men’s programs generally are not accessible to men with intellectual, cognitive and learning needs. And are their plans for the walking with Dad program to be rolled out at other child safety service centres e.g. logan or been leigh area.
Victoria
Yes our work is adaptable for all fathers as they can all think about and talk about their children and the impacts of their behaviours on their children. When we partner with survivors we plan the intervention as they know their partner best.
Emma and Jackie
How do you support perpetrators where there is detrimental mental health and domestic violence?
Evodia
We address the violence and the mental health together at the same time meaning we refer the father to a mental health professional whilst keeping high expectations of him as a father. Similar to substance misuse counsellors what works best if all of the agencies are working together to address the coercive and controlling behaviours and not working in silos. The perpetrator having the same language of accountability from various agencies is the key and these services connecting always with the service that is partnering with the survivors to assess safety and evidence of change. We are careful not to collude and look at his mental health as the reason he is perpetrating violence.
Emma and Jackie
Would you please provide an indication of the prevalence, availability of perpetrator / perpetrator behaviour focused programs / services?
David
In regards to WWD, we are in four Child Safety service centres in Qld and I could not comment on other programs.
Emma and Jackie
Can I ask a question, although I agree with bringing to light the father or perpetrators behaviours and tactics and the harm they create, how can we address how the mother may enable his power and control but not use language of blame on her?
Gee
I have never in my 25 years of experience ever come across a situation where the mother has enabled his power and control. Mothers I work with are extremely smart and child focussed and it may appear to an outsider they are enabling but instead they are managing his abuse by using a whole range of tactics and strategies that you only know about if you have a solid partnership with the mother.
Emma and Jackie
What happens when you believe that mum isn't engaging or telling the whole truth out of fear of the repercussions from dad? At what point should intervention orders be implemented or dad removed from the situation?
Helen
I would suggest you refer to the Safe and Together Model Website to understand the critical components for your assessment and partnering steps as too lengthy for me to answer here.
Emma and Jackie
What should we do when a woman we are in contact with has reported a threat or concern around violence but she is unwilling or doesn't feel ready to make a referral to DV or legal services?
Tristan
Focus on partnering and find out why.
Emma and Jackie
Can this tool be used effectively without engagement from perpetrators? As in, with victims to support with experience of FV.
Anna
Yes!
Emma and Jackie
Would the woman receive a copy of the Case Management/Accountability plan?
Tracy
They design it please see answers above.
Emma and Jackie
How would you address issues of an older adult son who lives in the household and becomes a perpetrator towards the mother due to poor role modelling from the father?
Lavenia
I would do exactly the same. I would map his behaviours and partner with the mother and plan the intervention with her.
Emma and Jackie
"Family and friends to hold him accountable and responsible for safety..." Is there such a thing? Perpetrators are often products of their environment, surrounded by family and friends who have the same abusive mindsets and attitudes. Many of their supporters encourage, enable and even participate in their abuse. What is being done to address this?
Lily
Then you would not use them. Listen to the survivor. Some survivors have requested we educate family members on the dynamics of DFV.
Emma and Jackie
Is Walking with Dads training available?
Keryn
No, sorry. However we hope to have a Safe and Together Summit in Queensland in the future and WWD work will be a strong feature there.
Emma and Jackie
How do we get traction into the Family Law system to understand this and hold parents who use violence accountable?
Denise
Has the Family Court and 'legal community’ approach improved since the 2016 changes to the definitions of family Violence?
Jill
Hi Denise and Jill. There is a reform program under active contemplation at the moment. The Australian Law Reform Commission’s report, Family Law for the Future (2019) made a range of recommendations intended to improve responses to family violence. These included simplifying the legislative provisions related to making parenting arrangements and making safety more prominent Recommendation 5) and ensuring that judges (recommendation 51) and lawyers (Recommendation 52) have appropriate family law expertise. These recommendations acknowledge a need to improve the family law system’s response to family violence.
Rae
Thank you to everyone who joined us for Sadie's Story, and to those who have sent through reflections, comments and questions. We have been working with our presenters to respond to as many of these as we can however given the volume that we received, we have not been able to answer every question. We appreciate your understanding.
Mitchell Bowden

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