The Institute’s training staff have wide experience in providing training that addresses domestic violence issues. Relationships Australia (SA) is the lead partner in the development of the nationally significant program - Point of Contact: responding to children and domestic violence.
Point of Contact navigates new territory in the area of domestic violence. It responds to an identified gap in existing knowledge and strategy, namely: how front line workers should respond appropriately to children who are, or have been, living with domestic violence. Front line workers include teachers, child care workers, police, contact centre workers, GPs, nurses, family court counsellors and magistrates and Supported Accommodation Assitance Program workers.
Preliminary research, undertaken as part of this program, identified major ways in which exposure to domestic violence negatively impacts upon children’s development. It revealed that children are not simply passive onlookers, as has often been assumed. In fact, the experience for some young people has been likened to traumatic stress syndrome. Children’s recovery from this potential trauma depends not only on the way in which their environment fosters adaptive coping and recovery but also on the immediate support and safety that is afforded the child by workers in the front line.
While front line workers therefore have an important role to play in this situation, it has been revealed that most workers feel ill prepared – either to identify children who may be in this situation or to respond to them (and their parents or caregivers) appropriately and professionally. Consequently the needs of children in this situation have largely been overlooked.
Point of Contact is a groundbreaking project. It has been developed in extensive consultation with workplace groups and it has involved the collaborative contributions of educators, psychologists and the Centre for Gender-Related Violence Studies at the University of NSW.
The outcome of this joint effort represents a leading strategy in the area of responding to domestic violence, both in national and international terms.
A comprehensive training resource of 10 booklets has been developed and trialled. It incorporates:
- A framework and step by step guide to responding to young people
- Background papers and activities on the history, impact, and legal dimensions of domestic violence
- Information and strategies for working with children and parents/caregivers
- Values exercises and a resource review.
We feel confident that workers who undertake the work of this program, either in workshop contexts or individually online, will be appropriately challenged to reflect on the issues involved and empowered to respond to them.
A printed copy of this resource is available at no cost through FaHCSIA and the Australian Government Office for Women by calling 1800 050 009.
This project is funded by the Commonwealth Government under Partnerships Against Domestic Violence.