Invisible practices: Working with fathers who use violence

Content type
Event date

22 July 2020, 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm (AEST)


Cathy Humphreys, Emma Rogers, Steven Lock, Jackie Wruck




Invisible practices role plays

This webinar was held on Wednesday, 22 July 2020.

Women and children living with violence can experience inconsistent responses from different service systems. While domestic and family violence (DFV) services often focus on supporting them to separate from men who use violence, the family law system generally allows contact between parents who use violence and their children.

This webinar built on the learnings from Sadie’s story, a webinar produced in collaboration with ANROWS highlighting one woman’s challenges with a fragmented system. It added to this earlier webinar by exploring how all-of-family approaches can help address the differences between service systems and the need to work with men who use violence. In particular, this webinar drew on ANROWS-funded research that highlights a need for practitioners to:

  • make patterns of violence and control visible and understandable
  • partner with women to ensure safe and effective practice
  • apply all-of-family approaches to better meet the needs of women and children.

Presenters invited the audience to consider how services can use an all-of-family approach to working with men who use violence, and demonstrated the skills needed to ‘pivot to the perpetrator’. They also explored how to work safely with families, including culturally competent practice with Aboriginal men who use violence.

This webinar is of interest to professionals working in the fields of DFV, men’s behaviour change programs, child protection, family relationship services, family support services and related services.

This webinar was presented in collaboration with ANROWS.

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

Featured image: GettyImages/Tero Vesalainen

Audio transcript (edited)

MR DOUGLAS: Hello everyone and welcome to today's webinar, Invisible Practices: Working with Fathers Who Use Violence, delivered in partnership with ANROWS. My name is Will Douglas, I'm a research officer with CFCA based at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. I'd like to start today by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the lands on which we're meeting. In Melbourne the traditional custodians are the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation. On behalf of ANROWS, AIFS and the presenters I'd like to pay respects to their elders past and present and to any others from around the country who may be participating in today's event.

We're thrilled to be partnering again with ANROWS to deliver today's event. Michele Robinson, ANROWS Director of Evidence to Action will actually be facilitating today's event. Before I hand over to her I've got some housekeeping to get through. The pre reading for today's webinar is available in the handout section of go to webinar, which is the bottom on your dashboard, along with the PDF version of slides.

We'll endeavour to get a recording of this webinar available as soon as possible. You can subscribe to our fortnightly newsletter, CFCA News, and being notified of when this becomes available. Finally, there will be a short survey that pops up as you exit today's event. If you could please take a minute to complete it we'd really appreciate it. Now I'll hand over to Michele Robinson, the manager of Evidence to Action.

MS ROBINSON: Thank you very much, Will, and welcome everybody. I'd like to acknowledge the impact of COVID-19 on us all and in particular on women and children who are subjected to domestic and family and sexual violence and those providing frontline services. I'd also like to acknowledge, we have a great audience with us today, but in particular the Queensland Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Council are watching and participating in this webinar, and a special hello to the Chair, Ken McGrath.

Today's webinar we'll discuss the findings of the research project, Invisible Practices, Interventions With Others Who Use Violence. This is an ANROWS project that explored ways to improve systems and service effectiveness as well as the responsiveness to the diversity of men who use violence, and it formed part of the ANROWS perpetrator interventions research stream, which was finalised in June this year. We'll be putting together a synthesis of all of the evidence in about September this year.

The Invisible Practices Project builds upon ANROWS's PATRICIA Project. PATRICIA is an acronym for Pathways and Research into Collaborative Inter-Agency Practice, which investigated how to foster greater collaboration between child protection services and specialist domestic and family violence services. And as part of a bigger suite, a forthcoming research that looks at Safe and Together, addressing complexity, all based on the model, Safe and Together model developed by David Mandel.

This is a confronting topic and some participants may find it distressing. It is really important to take care of yourself while you're watching and participating in the webinar. If you'd like to access support please contact the services on the screen in front of you, so 1800RESPECT, Lifeline. I think I'd also like to warn the audience in advance that we have role plays that use racist and offensive language to demonstrate real life situations.

So who do we have here for you today? I'll do a quick intro of the panel and then we'll move into the webinar format. We've got Professor Cathy Humphreys from the University of Melbourne and we have Jackie Wruck, Emma Rogers and Steve Lock, all practice leaders and advisers with the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women in Queensland. We're going to hear from Cathy first about the research and then from Emma, Jackie and Steve, who are practice leaders in the field, about the key skills that are based on the evidence from the findings of the research.

We've got a lot of content to cover today so we are unlikely to have a live Q&A at the end, but please send through your questions as we're going to work with the presenters to respond to these in a post recorded webinar. Let us know if you don't want your questions published in the online forum as you're putting in your question. Welcome Cathy.

MS HUMPHREYS: Thank you very much.

MS ROBINSON: Yes, great to see you. Cathy, can you tell us about the background of the Invisible Practices Project and with a bit of an outline of the key findings and what is needed to be in place for practice change to occur.

MS HUMPHREYS: Because, look, it's a terrific opportunity to be able to speak like this and to talk more about the Invisible Practices: Working with Fathers Who Use Violence, and I think it's wonderful that AIFS and ANROWS have got together to provide this opportunity for us to be able to talk in greater depth about these issues. I'd also like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land and their leaders, past, present and emerging.

As Michele said, I'm going to be just setting the scene and the context for Invisible Practices, setting out some of the key principles arising from our practice led research and working with the Safe and Together Institute, and then I'm going to be handing over to the practitioners, Emma, Jackie and Steve, to look a bit further at how these principles translate into practice. Throughout there'll be some peppering of pictures around mountains and climbing because I think that that provides quite a good metaphor for thinking about the fact that this is very challenging. You know, working with fathers who use violence is not straight forward. So I just wanted to use those sort of mountaineering metaphors as a way of just a little reminder, and I certainly don't like to use violent (indistinct) through a presentation like this because it can be distressing and triggering.

So of course any good research, any substantial research always involves a team and so I just want to acknowledge that I'm just the front of a wonderful team and very enriching practice with some terrific researchers, academics and the collaborating organisations who all provided senior managers and representation from several practitioners for the project and for working in Communities of Practice, as well as that we work with the Safe and Together Institute, and that means David Mandel and others like Carl Pinto and Heidi from the Safe and Together Institute.

So what was the impetus for the project? As Michele said, it arose out of our earlier project, the PATRICIA Project, which looked at how can we get domestic violence services and child protection services and family services working in a more collaborative way together? So not in (indistinct) and not in opposition to each other but rather with a shared vision. One of the things that became very clear was that we needed to be addressing some of the issues that get in the way, particularly for the ways in which some practices around working with domestic violence and children have been come entrenched.

So this is code, as I said in the slide, for don't blame the workers. There's actually entrenched practices that keep on repeating themselves over and over again which makes it very difficult for individual workers to work really well in this space unless the way is clear for them. So some of these involve, you know, needing to recognise the true victims. You know, you've got an adult victim and a child victim. And when we're working in the child protection space you know really you're working almost always with thinking about child victims rather than two victims, that in fact it's a space where we've not done well in developing the work with men and particularly keeping fathers visible whether they're violent and whether they're non-violent.

And there's also working with complexity. How do you keep the domestic violence in view when you have other issues of alcohol and other drugs and mental health? So that's the STACY Project that came after the Invisible Practices Project. There are also some other considerations in this space that have got in the way of working well. One is the conflation of safety with separation, and actually a lot of these children are no safer even when there's been separation if they have a lot of unsupervised access or if they're homeless, and also the gender neutral response are things that get in the way and which need to be overcome to create a stronger and more effective practice in this area and a more ethical practice.

So what were our research questions? What do the practitioners require from their or other organisations to support them in working with fathers who use violence? This was practiced led research, it had a focus on the workforce and what principles guide the work with fathers who use violence and abuse. So we weren't interested in trying to develop a manualised response, you know, where you had fidelity, where it was all locked in. This is work where you require flexibility but you have to understand how principles translate into practice.

We were also very keen to provide an alternative model for training. We actually feel very strongly, and I guess I feel very strongly in the research I've done over the years which has always applied and wanting to translate into policy or practice, and recognising that actually practice change doesn't come through out of what have been our traditional models of training, training, training, send the frontline workers to a two day training or even a three day or four day training. It doesn't work like that. If you want practice change then there's other things that need to happen within the organisation.

So we tried to design an applied research program which built knowledge while simultaneously developing capacity. So it's an action research project or a co-design project that recognises that practice change does not occur simply through training those frontline workers. And there's a great quote from Wagener and Cook, just with standard training work stops, a period of training ensues frequently offsite, after which employees return to the workplace to put new knowledge into practice and not always with much success. Billions are spent annually on training following this model.

So what we're trying to do is think about; are there alternatives to something which we recognise is not working very well? And so what's the model look like? This is kind of what the model looks like. Now, there are variations on this theme about how you could do these whole of organisational approaches. This is our version of it. Now, for us we had a research team in the Safe and Together Institute with David Mandel. You won't always have that. But the main thing is getting a top down bottom up approach so that you're working at both ends to get practice change.

And so what does that look like? Well, actually across four states of Australia that PAG stands for the Program Advisory Group, which was an active group of senior managers who actually made it possible for the Communities of Practice to operate. So that if you've got practitioners, senior practitioners working in Communities of Practice they've got to have the way cleared by the senior management. And then we had the bottom up, which was actually, this was wasn't just about a special staff development for those in the Community of Practice. This was about how do they work with and train others? How do they work with others to get the practice change embedded? So how do they influence.

And so each member of the Community of Practice had to take a group of people that they were trying to influence within their organisations. And so you had a bottom up top down approach. Actually within this Project were 450 practitioners who were involved in actually developing the principles, practice and guidelines. So spending a moment longer on thinking about that authorising environment, because it was a real learning for us, how did the Invisible Practices Project that we took into the STACY Project, which is Safe and Together addressing complexity.

Because we realised that unless you had those Community of Practice members who had senior management support you saw practice change, you saw transformative practice. When you didn't have senior management support they struggled, very little happened. So we're very clear that senior management support is really important to create an authorising environment, but it needs to acknowledge and re‑focus the work and the domestic and family violence work. So there needs to be a humility in the organisation that says we're not doing this work well enough, we want to learn something, or we're curious about what happens.

They need to be able to prioritise the worker training, coaching and support and much attention to worker safety. You can't work in this area without paying attention to the safety of workers. So what were the themes coming out of the Communities of Practice? We looked at them. Because workers brought their practice examples to a Community of Practice which was then mentored and coached with David Mandel and facilitated by the researchers.

So general ones were issues about how do you engage with male care givers or fathers; partnering with women; building relationships with children, and balancing this focus of interventions between fathers, mothers and children. So this was as key point about the Invisible Practices Project, and one of the key principles is actually you don't work with fathers alone. It is about how do you partner with women and/or the relationship with children?

Invisible Practices is a stand-alone working with men. This is about actually a more considered practice. And that means an all of family response, or a whole of family response some people refer this to. So there's a lot of misunderstanding about this approach. You know, when people hear whole of family or all of family they think family therapy. That's not what we're talking about. But we are saying work with each family member wherever it's safe to do so in the context of their family, extended family or community.

So we are thinking about what's a more holistic practice that we can have in this area? It doesn't mean necessarily that all individuals are seen together. They are only seen when it's safe to do so, and that's not very often but it is there and it is important, because actually a lot of these families are not separating. So if they're all living together and we fragment them then we can be creating chasms between them. It means that men are in view, children are seen and women are recognised as both victim survivors as well as mothers.

Actually thinking a little bit more about how we work with fathers, so the metaphor here is some light across a very difficult terrain, is where we're thinking about the work with fathers. You know, how do you pivot to the perpetrator? And that means, you know, shifting the focus of attention onto his patterns of behaviour as both the source of safety as well as the source of risk. And that means to adult and child victims, to mother-child relationships, the family ecology or family functioning, as well as to workers. What are the issues around risk and safety for everybody?

It means also exploring, assessing and documenting the role of the father who uses violence in the family and the impact of their fathering choices on family functioning, and sharing. Then when you've documented that information and doing it in ways that share appropriately with other organisations. Assessment of risk and safety. So this is an interesting issue, because when we say pivot to the perpetrator people often think, well, that means I've got to engage with the perpetrator.

Actually we worked a lot with women's organisations who said we don't work with men, how can we work with this model? But actually how you keep the perpetrator of violence in view is a really important aspect of the whole project, and in fact they were working extremely effectively with actually highlighting in much more important ways, the ways in which the behaviour, what were the behaviours that were impacting on children and on women and on the family functioning.

We've often though used this notion that these men are too difficult to engage with or too risky to engage with as a way of not engaging with them at all. There's a threshold clearly; you cannot engage with a women in this space. But actually we've actually put the bar too high to say we never do, we rarely do, whereas it's more the other way. What is it that you do to create a safe practice and how do you contend to assess for change across time?

A key issue, and I love the way - I just learnt so much from facilitating these Communities of Practice, from watching David Mandel work in this space, and how constantly many use violence want to shift the blame to the woman and to see themselves as a victim. So what you're trying to do all the time is just constantly bring it back to focusing on his fathering and parenting and what he expects of himself and others as a father and not getting and constantly talking about the relationship, the adult relationship with his partner.

So another issue that was a key point was; don't be naïve. You know, you will face a man who wants to be seen as a victim and wants to blame others. So be really careful in this space. Be well prepared. Gather the information from multiple sources. What's the purpose of an interview? And be really clear about what that purpose is, rehearse if you've got time and, you know, it really is good if you're a new worker. Attend to worker safety and, you know, that means be diligent in this space, be respectful and avoid arguing with the facts, help him understand his behaviour in relation to his parenting and focus on his strengths but point out some contradictions, and do a lot of support for less experienced workers.

I think one of the issues that is really important is the dance really between engagement and collusion. And this is one that we were constantly concerned about and rightly so; that you want to build rapport with the perpetrator or with the father. And that's a positive thing. But rapport that cannot contain a conversation about his behaviour is not a functional rapport. So thinking about how do you manage to build rapport without building collusion? It's like asking questions about what kind of dad do you want to be, what did you learn about the pregnancy? So asking respectful and important questions for him about his role as a father.

But this is where I'm about to hand over to our practitioners who can tell you and show you a lot more in this space than I can talk about in terms of a more theoretical way. So in doing that, just to recognise that there's some practice guidance that's available on the ANROWS website as well as the practice report, that was a report to ANROWS, and there's some other referential articles. Over to you, Michele.

MS ROBINSON: Thanks so much, Cathy, you've done a splendid job in outlining the major themes from the evidence in the project and also the practice guide that does exist on the ANROWS website. It's now time to invite the practitioners who are also involved in the project to unfold for us what working in this way actually involves. Just by way of background, the audience was asked to read a case study prior to joining the webinar. The document has two versions of the same story. Steve, can you walk us through the case study and what does it tell us about how we work with fathers?

MR LOCK: Thanks, Michele. I just wanted to give just a quick bit of context before I look at the case notes. The context I Queensland is that we've started since 2016 a project called Walking with Dads. In lots of ways Walking with Dads is putting a domestic violence specialist in four different child protection offices around the state. Really the development of Walking with Dads is very closely connected with this research study and the other research studies that Cathy referred to.

So in lots of ways Walking with Dads has kind of been what I'd call an engine room for our learning on this topic of domestic violence (indistinct) practice. So just giving that as a context, the reason we decided to put the two versions of a case note - and if people have got them in front of them you'll see that there's two very different tones in these two cases. So they give a clue to the foundation that's necessary for how you work with men. In other words it's not just about, you know, going out there, finding men who are violent and just launching in to work with them. It's about this kind of thinking.

So if you look at the first case note, the one that's Version 1, you'll see that the mother's Aboriginal, she has a history of domestic violence relationships, she has a trauma history, she has substance abuse problems, she's denied the violence, she's decided that she wants to maintain the relationship even though it doesn't seem to be good for the children. So you kind of almost have to think to yourself, if that was my case note I'd done and if that was an example of my practice and preparation really I wouldn't even be talking to the father would I? Because actually probably what I'd be doing with that kind of approach is actually spending an awful lot of time talking to the mother about her problems and her choices.

So if you look at Version 2 you'll see the same situation. These case notes are based on real cases. So you'll see the same case quite differently. Straight away we're saying that the father has a pattern of violence coercive behaviour. We've been very specific about what he's done. And that's important because if we're specific we can be clear what he's accountable for. He's punched her in the head, he's given her headaches. This has led to multiple moves for the children. So his behaviour has led to multiple moves for the children.

We also note that the mother has tried to shield the children from the violence and that she has strategies, she's able to tell us about strategies, how she's done this. And that she does have a substance problem but she's actually working very hard to try and deal with it. But also we know that his behaviour is interfering with her attempts to deal with her substance issues.

So I think what you can probably take from that is, that if the way we practised and the way we recorded was Version 1 we'd have no platform for the work with the father. We'd have nothing specific to talk to him about. We wouldn't have any behaviours that we wanted to talk to him about. We wouldn't have any conversations about the impact of his behaviours on his children. Hopefully that's quite clear from reading those two versions of the case note. So I suppose in summary what I'm really saying is, is I'm saying that Version 2, if you've got those case notes there, are the ones which lay the platform for the work of a father that we're going to go on and look at.

MS ROBINSON: Thanks Steve. I mean, it's a really important demonstration I think of the way that workers can prepare themselves and what is required to consider in terms of the way facts are constructed or situations are understood. So as part of this, partnership with the woman is a core element of the work, as Cathy pointed out. I might turn to you, Emma. Can you tell us more about how partnering with the mother is done in practice?

MS ROGERS: Yes, thanks, Michele. So partnering is becoming an ally, a collaborator with mum, recognising that she understands and knows her safety. And when we're an ally with mum working this way means we gather information about dad's pattern of coercive control, his level of dangerousness, the impacts of his behaviours on the children and on the family functioning, and we understand what mum's doing in the context of his behaviours to protect the children and promote safety for herself and the children and well-being. So partnering is a crucial practice that we need to do.

So we've got a role play that sort of demonstrates this inaction, but before we go into that, this role play is really about how we talk to mums about how we know how to engage the dads safely and understand what's safe for mum and the kids.

MS ROGERS: Okay. So, Jackie, I would like to support your partner to be a safer and better connected dad. Could you tell me what you would like me to focus on when I talk to him to make it better for you and the kids? 18.11.48

MS WRUCK: Emma, I think there's lots of things that I want to change.

MS ROGERS: Okay. Well, why don't we start with what impacts you and the kids the most.

MS WRUCK: I think the biggest thing is when he calls me (indistinct words) cause fights, so that makes me feel demoralised and worthless. For my kids to hear sort of that. It makes them ashamed of being Aboriginal. He tends to do this in front of his family and his family says the same stuff as well.

MS ROGERS: Yes. I can understand how hurtful that would be to you and your kids.

MS WRUCK: Unfortunately, Emma, I don't think you could understand it because you're not black.

MS ROGERS: Yeah. Well, I'm not in your shoes and I wouldn't know what it's like. But I suppose what I can do is speak to him about his behaviour. And I have spoken to dads before about supporting their kids and their mum's culture and the impacts, what you're telling me. Often no one has ever spoken to them before about this. Sometimes, you know, I talk to their family too if they also, you know, supporting his racist views and they're also racist and about how that impacts the kids.

I mean, sometimes once we bring it to the forefront of their mind they might think about how it impacts you and the kids before they do it so they don't do it. I mean, you know, that's my role. I mean, I can educate him about that and how it impacts, you know, your mental health and your well-being.

MS WRUCK: I just wondered if you could probably talk to him about his behaviours and how it affects their schooling. For example, you know, they can't concentrate at school, they're sometimes too scared to come home and they don't know what they're coming home to.

MS ROGERS: Yeah, okay. Can you tell me a little bit more on what behaviours he uses that impacts their schooling and them not wanting to come home?

MS WRUCK: Sure. I think the biggest thing is, you know, the property damage. So we move quite regularly and - - -

MS ROGERS: Yeah. I understand he does love his kids. I mean, that's why I want to support him to understand all of the impacts of his behaviours. The more I know about what he does the more I can speak to him about it and, you know, and how it goes against his values as a dad and educate him on the impacts. Is there anything else you want me to talk to him about? Do you want me to talk to him about the impacts of punching you in the head and how it caused you to have headaches for a long time?

MS WRUCK: No, please don't talk to him about that. He'll just blame me. He'll not care about hurting me. But he will care about the kids. So maybe if we just keep it around the property damage then it takes it a bit off me, let him know how the kids get scared and upset when they see or hear this violence.

MS ROGERS: I want to take your lead on this because I know you know him best and I know you will what will make it harder for you and the kids. So I don't want to talk to him about anything that's going to make it harder for you and the kids. So I'll discuss with him about the property damage, scaring the kids, how it impacts their education and well-being, and the racist put downs he does, how that impacts them feeling good and proud about their identity and being Aboriginal. Is that sort of about right? I mean, is there anything else you want him to do? Sometimes mum want, you know, him to play more with the kids or, like, paying for rent or, you know, financial, to contribute more, or taking the kids to school, anything that you think would be something I can talk to him about?

MS WRUCK: I'd probably like him to sort of be a part of their healing so, you know, saying sorry, acknowledging sort of what he has done.

MS ROGERS: Is there anything else you think he can help with the healing? So he can say sorry and speak to him about his behaviours. Anything else?

MS WRUCK: Well, I think with him being non indigenous and we Aboriginal so probably letting the kids go to family so that they can learn more about their culture because he just wouldn't know.

(Audio malfunction)

MS ROBINSON: Sorry about a few technical issues. Thank you so much, Jackie and Emma for the role play. I think you've really demonstrated the way in which partnering with the women and listening to the mother is incredibly important in terms of binding and getting trust in terms of being able to support and work with women in this situation, I guess one of the most important elements as we saw in the role play. For those that missed the role play or the role play wasn't clear in terms of volume we will be putting that on the webinar and we'll fix it in the post recorded webinar, but we'll have the role plays on the website separately.

Emma, establishing rapport and building engagement with men was one of the other things that Cathy drew out of the research is vitally important, but skill is required to do this safely and to avoid collusion. Could you tell us a bit more about how this is done. And we're also going to use this as an opportunity to another role play to demonstrate how to conduct an interview with a father who uses violence, and it's going to show safe practice which focuses on the perpetrator's role as a father.

MS ROGERS: Yes, thanks, Michele. Before talking to dads I make sure I plan that conversation with mum first. So I always have the mother and his safety at the forefront of my mind in any interactions with him. But I have goals that I have designed with the mum which you can see in Jackie's case when I was talking with her, that we had some goals that we're going to talk to dad. In that case we were discussing the kids' education, culture, property damage I think. So we then have those goals that we're going to talk to him about and, you know, we're trying to understand if, you know, he can acknowledge what he has done, if he understands the impacts on the kids from his behaviours and on mum and the family functioning, and if he has any self determination to stop and change his behaviours.

Then with that knowledge I can feed that back to mum and then we can do some more planning. So we'll go into an example of that, of the interviewing and his being the perpetrator. So we can start that. Hi Steve.


MS ROGERS: My role is to help dads that scare and hurt their family and that's why I'm here to talk to you today. I want to talk to you as fathers are important and I know you are important in your kids' lives. So I'm here to talk to you about your kids and what is important for them and you as a father. So to support you I'd like to understand a bit more about you as a dad. Can you describe to me your values and what's important for you.

MR LUCK: All that matters to me, I love my kids, I want the best for them, I just want to get this situation sorted out. She's mad to be honest and I'm worried about her drug problem. It's not good for my kids.

MS ROGERS: You know, it sounds like you have a connection with your kids and it sounds like you want to continue that connection. So I want to talk to you about your values as a dad and what's important for you regards your values. So can you explain a little bit more about that.

MR LUCK: Dads are important, you know, dads are so important to kids. To me, you know, I want them to have fun. I have fun with them, I take them fishing, I play footy, football with them. I want them to do well at school. They're not doing well at school because she can't get up in the morning. You know, I just want my kids to have everything, I really do.

MS ROGERS: You know, that sounds like some good values that you have there, you know. So tell me a bit more about that. How do you do that, like, when you're saying - how do you support their education?

MR LUCK: Well, I don't really do much with the school, that's her job. You know, I would, I just don't really, I don't really know what I can do. I'm worried about her but I don't know what I can do for the kids at school really. You tell me.

MS ROGERS: All right. Well, there's a few things I want to talk to you about. Some of your behaviours probably aren't matching your values that you have as a dad, and I want to focus on three areas today. So I want to talk to you about your kids' education, so I'm glad that you brought that up. I also want to talk to you about how you can support your kids' identity, their culture identity, about them being Aboriginal, and I want to talk to you also about how you scare your kids as well.

MR LUCK: I've never, I'd never hurt my kids, you know. I've seen them get scared but that, that's really, that's about her, you know. So I get so angry with her.

MS ROGERS: Let's look into that a little bit more. I mean, when you're - you've done a lot of property damage to the house and put holes in the walls. When you do that it scares the kids, you know, and this isn't matching with your values of connecting with the kids which you told me about and your values of supporting their education. Can you understand though when you hurt someone they love or scare someone that they love, like their mum, or scare them, that's going to impact them, yeah?

MR LUCK: Yeah.

MS ROGERS: So can you tell me about some other impacts that it would have on them when you're doing that, when you're, you know, when you're putting holes in the walls and you're, you know, shouting or whatever you're doing, can you tell me a bit more about the impacts that they would be feeling and experiencing?

MR LUCK: I know, I know afterwards that, you know, they, well, they look, you know, they look scared, you know, like, I know they do, yeah, I know. I wish we could stop this but yeah, and I know, and I just, I don't know what to do to be honest.

MS ROGERS: Okay. So, you know, that's where we can work through that a bit more. I mean, you know, your kids, I can tell you a bit more about the impacts on kids because for them they get anxiety, they find it hard to concentrate to school, they'd be worried about their mum. That's what we find kids tell us when that happens. So that's why it's so important that you think about that and the impacts and how you actually can change that. Okay.

MR LUCK: Yeah.

MS ROGERS: So can you tell me what you can do not to scare them?

MR LUCK: Well, obviously I, obviously, you know, if I wasn't being loud and banging around that would be a good thing, but I don't know. I'm sorry to complain this but it's her that gets me going on these things.

MS ROGERS: Okay. Well, how about we - you know, something that I do which it works really well is we put a plan in place. So we'll support you. What we can do is we can put the things in the plan that you want to stop and the things that you want to start, you know, and that can be based around your values. And then we're all on the same page, you know, and that is the most, you know, getting to be the best dad that you could be that way. I mean, there was another thing I want to talk to you about as well, is about how you can support your kids to feel good about their Aboriginal identity and their culture. So can you talk to me about how you can support that for the kids?

MR LUCK: Well, listen, I don't know much about that stuff.

MS ROGERS: So what we can do is we can certainly get someone to come and talk to you about that and so you can understand a bit more about that. I'm not going to be the best person to do that but I can certainly find someone who is Aboriginal to talk to you about that. You know, certainly when you're calling mum, you know, derogatory names or put downs about her being Aboriginal and the colour of her skin that's something that's going to impact her and the kids about how they feel about themselves. So that's an impact from that, you know.

MR LUCK: I lose my temper and I say those things to their mum, but it's not meant for them, you know, it's not - I'm saying this because she makes me angry. There's no way I'd want - that's not about them.

MS ROGERS: Yeah. But when it's about their mum and she's Aboriginal then it's about them too. So that's the impact it has.

MR LUCK: I hadn't thought about it like that before, I've got to be honest. Maybe, yeah, I hadn't thought about it like that before so I would like to know more, yeah.

MS ROBINSON: Thanks very much, Emma and Steve. As Emma introduced the video, the How Not To video will be made available on the AIFS and ANROWS websites in the next few weeks. But thanks very much, Emma. Just to summarise that piece, you know, the focus is on the perpetrator's role as a father and important to be really specific about his behaviour and the impact of his behaviour on the children, and you kept circling back to what the father can do and not engaging with his blaming of mum. Thank you.

So looking now at the case study, which is a family comprised of an Aboriginal mum and a non-indigenous father. Jackie, turning to you, what should practitioners understand about culturally competent practice with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families when doing this work?

MS WRUCK: Is that in regards to what to look for, yeah, and think about prior to - - -


MS WRUCK: Yes. I think what you have to - sorry, I'm reading from something where you had me comparing the two versions. Will I go on about that?

MS ROBERTSON: It would be fantastic, yep, thank you.

MS WRUCK: As you see in Version 1 sort of it does not mention how he uses racism to control her. Instead that one looks at how it talks negatively about mum. So Version 2 actually it explains sort of the racist remarks and the use of racist and offensive language to criticise her and her culture. Whilst that's a better version compared to Version 1 I think it's still failed to mention how those racist remarks actually impacted on the children's Aboriginal identity. So that's probably something we've got to remember to put in. And I think we have to be specific about behaviour that undermines sort of the cultural strength of family, and ask mum if it is occurring.

I think in Version 2 we say that his constant put downs regarding her culture, you know, calling her black, he takes their child to his family and isolates her away from hers, so she can only depend on him and his family. He abuses the children that are not his and controls her in that way, and also that he doesn't support her and the children to have contact, regular contact with their Aboriginal family. I think the likelihood, you know, linking fatherhood to culture to support the mum, as practitioners we need to talk to him about how he supports the children's culture.

So we need to ask her how he can support their culture and give her options like, for example, if he's not indigenous in this case we could probably offer to educate him and how to support the children's healing as Aboriginal children, you know, and by that he could allow them to seek time back on country and connect with other family members if he's not allowing her to, that at least allow the children so that they, you know, build up their cultural identity again and they don't feel so worthless.

I think if we're working holistically we could offer to include his family in supporting him to change his behaviours as well and maybe educate them, because I think in the role play I said that they did it as well, so educate them in regards to cultural safety and healing for the children. Because this needs to be done if possible by indigenous workers. So how well you are linked into indigenous services can also help. So if you're not indigenous see what services are out there that could assist. Shall I go more, I mean, about mother's protection?

MS ROBINSON: Absolutely, yeah, please. And I guess also in terms of how practice is adapted in that scenario if the father was an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander man.

MS WRUCK: With him being Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander you know sort of the invisible practice. It highlights the importance of, you know, the holistic framework. So we could actually offer to talk to him about his role in the nurturing and teaching of his Aboriginal children because, you know, that's lost in our culture and we don't know how many generations down that he's lost his culture. So get in contact with, you know, his culture.

Also it needs to be holistic, so including family but have safe family members that she's actually said are safe, not him because, you know, he could still use his family to control her and report back to him. So make sure that the families that are engaged with them are safe and that she considers them safe. And we could offer to talk to him about, you know, important relationships that he has with others in the community. So, you know, he may have a specific role that he does in the community and that's important to build that sort of bridge as well. Are you wanting me to go, like, I know there's a question about protection, what her protection was?

So in Version 1 we spoke negatively about mum and saw that when she denied the violence and tried to bail him out and focused on the relationship with him, not his behaviours as the harm, that they did not realise that she was actually being protective. So I just wondered what would have happened if we didn't do those things, if she didn't do those things, and what would have the violence been? Would it be worse when he got out if she didn't say, hey, she wanted to be in a relationship and try and bail him out.

As for Version 2, that focused on mum's strength and that was great because she was protected by, you know, sending them to their room and including their neighbours into the safety plan, so, and trying to establish a routine by reading to them about their culture every night. I just wonder as practitioners how often do we remember to ask about cultural protection? I just say that, you know, we've got to understand that whilst we understand the importance of the racism and oppression that he may experience we don't excuse that violent behaviour, and domestic violence is behavioural and not (indistinct). And the use of drugs, alcohol or being oppressed is no reasons to use violence. So violence is a choice.

MS ROBINSON: Thanks so much, Jackie. I think that's been a really useful way of understanding and unpacking the case note which was a composite of different case studies. And positioning the two representations of the same situation in that way I think has been a great demonstration of the way that the evidence from the project has informed practice. Just quickly turning to Emma and Steve before we go to questions. Was there anything that you wanted to add? I'd be really interested in just understanding, is there a really strict protocol around case note writing as a result of the Invisible Practices and Safe and Together training?

MR LUCK: I can probably give a reasonable indicator there. The Safe and Together approach and the research that we're looking at today have had a - you've probably noticed that it's had a really profound effect on the way that we want to write about domestic violence. So some of the ways that we've tried to support that, some of the ways, like Cathy said, is training. But of course, it's much more than training.

So some of the things we've tried to do is kind of develop templates or guidance, forms of guidance within some of the paperwork that we produce, where we're guiding people much more closely towards recording in a way which does - as we've emphasised, does focus on the protection, the protective elements of a mother, and much clearer notes on the behaviours which are the source of harm. And just to give people a demonstration, a very simple demonstration. When we do case reads it should mean that we shouldn't be reading things like there's domestic violence in the relationship.

We should be reading things about we are worried about his behaviours, being very specific about those behaviours, and we're worried about the impacts on the children and being very specific about those impacts. So yeah, so that's probably my observation.

MS ROBINSON: Thanks, Steve. And you, Emma, do you want to comment on this?

MS ROGERS: Yeah. I think that we're certainly seeing a real shift in that we're actually getting detail about his behaviours and detail about how the children are experiencing the domestic family violence and how they're impacted by it. We still have a way to go but certainly that's something that we, you know, part of our role is in training and consulting on that. So, you know, it's a big shift. I think, you know, for us, child safety, it's something that's a change but we need to see that right across the sector because we actually don't see that very well right across the sector and really specific about the impacts on the children. So I think that's definitely since, you know, Invisible Practices research and others that, you know, and we've had STACY, that we're actually seeing a momentum in that, which is great.

MR LUCK: Out of the PATRICIA study there was a case read model that Cathy Humphreys and David Mandel developed to kind of look at just this very point, you know, how are we describing domestic violence and is it kind of competent and accurate. So we now regularly use that case read model to look at how we're recording and then use that as a way to kind of support and develop individual workers. So I think that's proven to be a very useful approach as well.

MS ROBINSON: Great. And I think we might bring Cathy back in at this point because we've got lots of questions. And please continue to send your questions in and let us know if you do not want to have your name published online with them. Hi Cathy. I've got a few questions up here. We've got about five to 10 minutes, which I really exciting. I'm going to start off with - this is to you, Emma. What are your thoughts on a case management approach that splits cases and assigns a separate case worker for mum and dad following a disclosure of violence?

MS ROGERS: I think that, you know, you can split, you can certainly split, but you have to have really good communication because the key is that it's got to be survival and intervention that you're doing with him. So if you don't have that good feedback from what mum's saying about what she wants to discuss with dad, what's actually going to improve their lives, what actually has the most impacts for them, what we can't talk about, if that's not tight - and often we can see that, we've got services that just work with perpetrators and they're actually not connected with services that are linked in with the survivors. That approach, in a sense that solid approach, it doesn't work. In fact it might not mean much difference, it actually could be unsafe.

So I think as long as they're connected quite well the sooner we can see, you know, with the example where you had that one worker that was doing both and that worked really well. But I think you can do it and have separate workers. They just have to have really good communication and make sure that they have that foundation of being survivor led.

MS ROBINSON: Great. Was there anyone else that wanted to comment very briefly on that?

MS ROGERS: I think there just needs to be real clarity in the care team about the issues around confidentiality and safety. It is actually a good model to have workers, sometimes co-located workers, and some knowledge that, you know, in the case contracting at the beginning, that there will be communication between workers and just really having some clarity is really good.


MS WRUCK: I just want to add that, you know, with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture you've got the men and women's business, yeah. So that collaboration, that sort of Emma was talking about, that if you have a male for the man and a female for the woman that has to be really tight so that no collusion occurs. That's something (indistinct words).

MS ROBINSON: There was another question that goes to that, Jackie, and Emma, you might like to also comment after Jackie, but what organisation on cultural supports do female practitioners need to continue doing this work with fathers using violence? So you've mentioned one of those.

MS WRUCK: So are you talking about what as a female worker?


MS WRUCK: What does she think about with - and is it in regards to working with males?

MS ROBINSON: Yes, I think that's right. With female practitioners you need to continue working with the fathers using violence.

MS WRUCK: I think we've got to not be afraid. We've got to not be afraid to talk about behaviour. When we're talking with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men I've had a lot of people say to me, 'How do you get to talk to him? It's actually men's business.' No, it's not. Okay, the violence is about behaviour. It's not about our law, our female and male law. So you've got to be not afraid and know your business. So be confident in what you're going to talk about and prepare before you go out, making sure that you have the right people at the table when you're talking about keeping her and the children safe. Yeah, it's a big planning of everything, who do you have at the table.

MS ROBINSON: Yes. Really that points been made over and over today, that preparation and planning is so critical to outcomes. Sorry, Emma, I cut you off.

MS ROGERS: No. I was just going to agree with Jackie, that it's all in the planning. It's not all occasion that you're going to have an indigenous worker that's going to be able to work with indigenous families. So I think that's what we tried in that example of the role play, you know, me as a non-indigenous white woman that I'm not going to get everything right. And Jackie corrected me, you know, she said, well, you're not going to know how I feel. But I didn't want people to shy away from that as a non-indigenous white person to know that you listen, you know, and you take their lead on that and you ask and you say I might not know about this and could you let me know.

So I think, you know, people not to be afraid about that. Instead what we do find is that it's more likely that non indigenous workers will not be engaging or not to the extent. So we don't want people to shy away from that.

MS WRUCK: Yeah. I think I actually got a lot of respect for Emma for acknowledging that she did not understand, so not being afraid to understand that, yeah, you're right, I have no idea what you're going through. You know, that probably gets a lot of respect.

MS ROGERS: But then offering ways to work together for example.

MS ROBINSON: This is the next question. I'm going to start with you on this one, Steve. This dad I the case study was willing to admit his behaviours, but lots of these dads are much more defensive about their behaviours. The question is, how do you deal with dads who don't accept some responsibility?

MR LUCK: Yeah, it's a really good question and it's a common question, you know, and it's a valid question. There's probably two things to this. One is that when we seek to engage fathers we have an element of assessment to that work as well. So in a way if you think about it, if a father won't engage in any kind of meaningful way, you know, your role is to record that and take that into account in your assessment and, really importantly, to take that into account in terms of your safety planning with the mother and children.

So in other words, you understand this question isn't, you know, you have to engage him or if you don't engage him that's a failure. Because in fact of course you've learned so much about him in the process of him, you know, not taking responsibility or letting you know some of the tactics that he uses. So we often emphasise it's kind of a win/win really because, you know, one, if you can work with these men in a way which helps them to think about their behaviour and consider changing it as a father that's a win.

But even if that doesn't happen you learn a lot about this person in terms of risk management and safety planning. So yeah, I think probably that's our big learning over the, you know, hundreds of cases really that, you know, it's not always about, you know, helping men to change.

MS ROBINSON: But it's about understanding that's information in terms of your response.

MR LUCK: That's right. And I think I'll say a little bit more because I think there's a thing about what perpetrator accountability means in this sense, you know, or what intervention, because sometimes actually having that conversation with a man where you come away thinking, oh dear, this is very worrying, he's very dangerous, well, really all you're doing is going away and thinking of another form of intervention. It's not going to be an engagement process. It's going to be a discussion with, you know, other services, police services, correction services, court orders.

So in other words, you know, again, I don't want this model to be something where people think only if I can engage him have we made any process. There's a lot you can get even when you can't engage.

MS ROBINSON: I think it's where pivot to the perpetrator is actually a very complex concept and has a whole range of accountabilities within it and it isn't one size at all. But it is about how do you keep him in view and in what way?

MS HUMPHREYS: And there's a lot of those I guess understandings of how to do that in the practice guide which were captured in the research.

MS ROBINSON: We've got time for one more so I'm looking for a really quick answer which tells the audience the key takeaway on how we work in the space with the father where the mother first disclosed the violence and she's now retracting so that Child Protection could close the matter with the family. We'll start with the child safety people.

MS HUMPHREYS: I couldn't quite hear or (indistinct) but I think you said that it's the mother, so the mother's not - - -

MS ROBINSON: The mother's retracting, so the mother's withdrawing.

MS ROGERS: Yeah, and that's understandable. So for us as Child Protection we're working out whether she sees us as a threat or a partner. So in that case she's seeing us as a threat. So it's for us to name the elephant in the room and to say, look, we can understand why you wouldn't because actually you might be concerned about us and our role. So I think that's, you know, that's what partnering is, is actually really, you know, when you think that's occurring there you really need to name it. So that's just a sort of quick answer without getting into all the process of partnering and the engagement, but yeah, that's something that you need to talk about.

MS ROBINSON: And Jackie, what would you say to that question?

MS WRUCK: Well, I'd be saying the simple question of why, asking why and understanding that and not judging, not judging her for that. Be curious.

MS HUMPHREYS: I guess what I'd say about that issue is that it isn't just if Child Protection's involved that you get retraction, that in fact that is part of the process and a recognisable part of the process for many, many women. And so understanding how you can keep on focusing on her resilience and her protective behaviours even in the face of a retraction is about exploring with her and trying to keep the door open. So really at that point it's about how do you keep the door open and be respectful and recognise that this is part of the process, not that it is about something that's out of the box and different.

MS ROBINSON: Thanks, Cathy. And I think a final word to you, Steve, before we come to the end.

MR LUCK: No, I won't add anything to that. I think that covered it, yep.

MS ROBINSON: Covered it, great. Thanks everybody. We've come to the end of the session today and the question time. There are lots more questions here so we'll work with the panel in putting responses together and putting them on the CFCA forum. Thank you very much to you, Cathy, to Emma, Jackie and Steve, who are all together in Brisbane, and Jackie's in Melbourne and I'm in Sydney. It's been a great collaborative opportunity to present together on the Invisible Practices research.

So the webinar recording will be available both on the AIFS and the ANROWS website, and you can link your screen to the AIFS website to continue the conversation. As you leave the webinar a short feedback survey will open in a window. We'd really appreciate your feedback please. As the corona virus situation continues to shift keep your eye on the CFCA and ANROWS newsletters for updates on future webinars. But remember, if you have a question please let the CFCA team know that you don't want your question or first name published on a CFCA website if you don't it.

As a last reminder, keep an eye out for further research which follows on from this topic, and that is the Safe and Together Addressing Complexity. The acronym is STACY. And then the later piece will be STACY focusing on children, which has involved the panel and Cathy has led that research. Thank you all so much. I'm Michele Robinson on behalf of CFCA and ANROWS. We'd like to say thank you and goodbye.



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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.

Slide outline

1. Invisible practices: Working with fathers who use violence

Cathy Humphreys, Steven Lock, Emma Rogers and Jackie Wruck 
CFCA Webinar 
22 July 2020 

2. Caution: Some people may find parts of this content confronting or distressing.

Recommended support services include:

  • 1800 RESPECT – 1800 737 732
  • Lifeline – 13 11 14
  • MensLine – 1300 78 99 78.

3. Invisible practices: Working with fathers who use violence

Cathy Humphreys 
22 July 2020 

4. Invisible Practices project: Acknowledgement of a team effort


  • Lucy Healey, Susan Heward-Belle, Menka Tsantefski and David Mandel

Investigators and researchers

  • Young, A., Wilde, T., Bornemisza, A., Laing, L., Toivonen, C., O’Hare, M., Gallant, D., Green, D., Chung, D., O’Leary, P., O’Neill, A. & Connolly, M.

Collaborating organisations

  • including Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare, which created an umbrella and support for the participating community sector organisation in Victoria
  • government departments in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia
  • The Safe & Together Institute

5. Systemic issues in child protection response to DFV (code for don’t blame the workers)


  • Recognising two victims
  • Keeping fathers who use violence visible
  • Working with complexity


  • Conflating safety with separation
  • A gender neutral response

6. Our research questions

  • What do practitioners require from their (or other) organisations to support them in working with fathers who use violence?
  • What principles guide the work with fathers who use violence and abuse?

7. Beyond training

*********Work stops, a period of training ensues (frequently offsite …), after which employees return to the workplace to put new knowledge into practice (not always with sterling success). Billions are spent annually on training following this model.

(Wagenaar & Cook, 2011, p. 25).

8. Project participants

Alt text: Organisational chart of research team and Safe and Together Institute: 4 program advisory groups across New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia, with communities of practice and secondary participants under each of these.

9. Creating an authorising environment

  • Key elements of an authorising environment included:
  • Senior management support
  • Acknowledgement of the need to refocus the work in the DFV area
  • Prioritising worker training, coaching and peer support
  • Greater attention to worker safety

10. Themes of Communities of Practice

  • General engagement skills with male caregivers/fathers
  • Partnering with women
  • Building relationships with children
  • Balancing the focus of interventions (fathers, mothers, children) in the context of collaborative (multi-agency) working
  • Worker safety 
  • Organisational issues and the sustainability of building capacity through practitioners

11. ‘All-of-family’ response

All-of-family responses involve:

  • Working with each family member in the context of their family, extended family or community
  • Individuals not necessarily seen together unless safe to do so
  • Men are in view, children are seen, women are recognised as victim/survivors and mothers

12. Working with fathers

Working with fathers involves:

  • Pivoting to the perpetrator
  • Exploring, assessing and documenting
  • Assessing father’s parenting in the same way as mother’s
  • Sharing the information with the ‘right’ services
  • Using the Safe & Together mapping tool

13. Assessment of risk and safety

  • Assessing the threshold for ‘engagement’
  • Assessing change processes

14. Pivot to the perpetrator of DFV

Focus on the father’s parenting and expectations of him as a father – not the relationship between the parents

15. Prepare for the interview

  • Gather information from multiple sources
  • Clarify purpose for the interview
  • Rehearse
  • Attend to worker safety
  • Be respectful, avoid arguing ‘the facts’
  • help him understand his behaviour in relation to his parenting
  • Focus on father’s strengths but point out contradictions
  • Ensure safety of the mother and children (women must know that the interview is to occur)
  • Support less experienced workers

16. Establish rapport, avoid collusion

  • Listen to adult survivor about when, how, if to engage with the father using violence
  • Build rapport but without colluding (avoid automatic validation of father’s efforts unless directly benefiting the children and family functioning)

Example questions:

  • What kind of dad do you want to be?
  • How did you learn about the pregnancy?
  • How did you decide to be a father or take a fathering role?
  • Would you like to talk to me about how people treat you as a father?

17. References

Healey, L., Humphreys, C., Tsantefski, M., Heward-Belle, S., Chung, D., & Mandel, D. (2018). Invisible Practices: Working with fathers who use violence. Practice guide. Sydney, NSW: ANROWS

Healey, L., Humphreys, C., Tsantefski, M., Heward-Belle, S., Chung, D., & Mandel, D. (2018). Invisible Practices: Intervention with fathers who use violence: Key findings and future directions (Research to policy and practice, 04/2018). Sydney, NSW: ANROWS

Smith, J., & Humphreys, C. (2019) Child protection and fathering where there is domestic violence: contradictions and consequences. Child and Family Social Work, 24, 156-163 doi/10.1111/cfs.12598

Humphreys, C., Healey, L. & Heward-Belle, S. (2019) Fathers who use domestic violence: Organisational capacity building and practice development. Child and Family Social Work

Wagenaar, H. & Cook, N. (2011) The push and pull of the world: how experience animates practice, Evidence & Policy, 7, 193–212

18. Over to Emma, Steve and Jackie

Practitioners can tell us more about what is working ‘on the ground’ and the challenges ahead.

19. Housekeeping

  • Webinar recording will be available on the AIFS & ANROWS website next week
  • Please complete the survey that will pop up as you exit the webinar, we really value your feedback
  • The research report and practice guide for Invisible Practices are available on the ANROWS website.

20. Continue the conversation…

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

Webinar questions and answers

Questions answered during presenter Q&A

To view the presenter Q&A, go to 55:00 in the recording

  1. What does the research evidence say on the gendered aspects of practitioner roles? For example, do female practitioners need support when working with fathers who use violence? Does gender make a difference when engaging fathers?
  2. What evidence do we have that these practice models (e.g. Safe and Together) are effective a) when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, and b) reducing all forms of violence and abuse, not just physical violence?
  3. Is there a risk that fathers will become more abusive or violent towards women and children if a professional engages them? If so, how do you manage that risk and plan for safety?
  4. What strategies can be used to engage fathers in the first place, particularly if they do not accept responsibility or have been referred through an intervention order? What are the main things practitioners should and shouldn’t do?


Cathy Humphreys is Professor of Social Work at the University of Melbourne. Her program of research crosses two major areas: children in out-of-home care; and domestic violence and family violence. With Professor Kelsey Hegarty she co-directs the Research Alliance to End Violence Against Women and Their Children (MAEVe), an inter-disciplinary centre to progress research on domestic and family violence. Research on fathering and domestic violence and the collaborative processes between Child Protection and specialist FV services are current research areas. Cathy was a social work practitioner for 16 years prior to becoming an academic.

Emma has 25 years of experience working in the field of social work 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 Justice and Multicultural Affairs as the acting Walking with Dads Principal Program Officer. For the past four 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 interventions for fathers, to hold them accountable and responsible for their destructive behaviours and to increase safety and wellbeing for families. Emma is also a certified Safe & Together Trainer.

Steven Lock has been a child protection practitioner for 25 years working in the UK and Australia. Steven is currently a Practice Leader (Domestic and Family Violence) at the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women in Queensland. Over the last five years Steven has co-led the implementation of domestic violence (DV) informed practice in Child Safety work in Queensland. Since 2016, this has included the new WalkingWithDads workers as DV specialists in Child Safety teams. These innovations have been directly related to participation in the ANROWS research The PATRICIA Project (2016) and Invisible Practices (2018) led by Professor Cathy Humphreys. Both studies have drawn on the Safe and Together model (developed by David Mandel) as the core practice framework. Steven is also a registered trainer in the Safe and Together model.

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