Concurrent Session - Day 1 - Orion Room

State of knowledge: The impact of family, domestic and sexual violence on children and young people

Anna Farrant & Caitlin Green

Anna Farrant practiced in family law, protection and care, and crime in Victoria in roles at Legal Aid Victoria, Women’s Legal Service Victoria and in private practice. After a decade over east, Anna returned to Western Australia in early 2020 and is currently the senior lawyer at WLSWA.

Caitlin Green is currently the senior advocate at the Family Inclusion Network of Western Australia. She is a social worker with a background in adult education and communications. She predominantly works with mothers whose children are either in care, or at risk of entering care, where she advocates for the elevation of the mother’s voice within the child protection system.

Exploring the use of responding affidavits

Exploring the use of responding affidavits for mothers whose children are subject to the protection and care legal process: towards a more trauma-informed response.
This presentation directs attention to the use of responding affidavits by mothers who have experienced family and domestic violence, and whose children have been removed as a result, through the statutory child protection system. We argue that when mothers are able ‘to have their voices heard, to tell their own side of the story’ – in the form of a responding affidavit – that a path is made toward a more trauma-informed response by both the court and child protection workers, and hopefully towards better support and a more sustainable reunification, where possible.
We use case studies to describe the experience and benefits of assisting mothers to prepare their responses to the filed affidavits of child protection workers. Once a responding affidavit was completed, in a process usually lasting 3-4 hours the mothers universally expressed relief, the prospect of being heard by a Magistrate in a Court providing them with some relief regarding the already heavy burden of their story. In regards to their children, the subjects now of statutory action, very often these mothers simply wanted to demonstrate how and in what ways they believed they DID act to protect them, often times asking for help and not receiving it.
We find that the use of responding affidavits both underutilized and also potentially powerful mechanisms whereby mothers can directly speak to the evidence presented against them, in those cases where their voice and experience is perceived by them as otherwise silenced.

Leanne Barron & Donna Chung

Leanne is CEO of Starick, a specialist FDV service operating in the south east corridor of Perth.

Donna Chung is Professor of Social Work at Curtin University and has published extensively on FDV.

Both speakers are passionate about improving service responses for children

Tilting responses to intervene early for children

The patterns of coercive control used by perpetrators of FDV often mean that women accessing FDV services do not have a regular General Practitioner or access maternal child health or related services. This can mean that their children are not receiving regular checks and that any developmental issues are not being identified.
At the same time we know that children growing up in homes where their fathers use coercive control and violence are highly vulnerable, experiencing negative impacts across social, emotional, developmental and health domains.
This presentation will outline a project by Curtin University School of Allied Health and Starick to bring children more clearly into view by developing a multi disciplinary early intervention model for children in refuge accommodation and post refuge to address the impacts of FDV and support their short and long term health and well-being.
The project is funded by the Department of Local Government Sport and Cultural Industries and will run for 2.5 years. The presentation will reflect on learnings from the first 6 months.
Key elements of the model are:
• A formal partnership between Curtin and Starick focused on early intervention for children currently residing in or recently exited Starick’s refuges
• A community of practice ‘hub’ where women and children are able to access allied health and social work services in a supportive and familiar environment
• Early identification of social, emotional, developmental and health issues for children and develops service and program responses
• Placement, practice and research opportunities for students in Social Work, Occupational Therapy and Speech Pathology.
• Builds the knowledge base of FDV staff working in refuges and outreach
• Builds the knowledge base of Social Work, Occupational Health and Speech Pathology disciplines and practitioners about FDV and its impacts
• Builds the evidence base about effective service and program responses

Louise Logan & Dani Gold

Louise Logan is a social worker currently working for Lismore Community Health, Northern Rivers Local Health District, NSW Health. Louise joined a team of home visiting maternal child health nurses providing the Sustaining NSW Families Program across the LHD.
Louise is currently participating in the Northern Rivers Community of Practice for the STACY Project, University of Melbourne.
From 2010-2020 Louise enjoyed a variety of social work roles at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne, recently in Trauma and Emergency and within the Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence team together with Dani Gold.
Louise is an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker under Medicare Better Access

Dani Gold is a senior social worker at the Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH), Victoria with substantial experience in the AOD sector, young people’s health, mental health and paediatric social work.
Since 2016, Dani has contributed to the RCH’s Family Violence Initiative as part of the Strengthening Hospitals Response to Family Violence State-wide Project. Dani is also an active member of the Clinical Ethics Service at the RCH.
In 2020, she commenced a role as Specialist Family Advisor to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services at RCH. This role involves capacity building within the organisation, developing improved pathways between services and sectors as well as advocating at a state-wide level for the recognition and response to children and young people experiencing violence. Dani has a special interest in identifying and developing best practice responses to Adolescents who use violence in the home. “

Riding the waves, Bracing for the tsunami​

The ethics and impacts of responding to family violence in a paediatric hospital since COVID-19 –

Reports of family violence have risen globally since the COVID-19 pandemic response and stay at home measures were introduced. COVID restrictions have created new opportunities for perpetrators of family violence to further isolate, control and cause fear for family members, including children and young people. Flattening the curve of COVID infections has caused other concerning health spikes that will only begin to emerge in the aftermath of the crisis, including threats to emotional and mental health, family safety and community cohesion.

With reduced service delivery and new ways of working with technology, the health care system can be an essential source of support – or it can unintentionally increase risk. It can also threaten to overwhelm an already exhausted workforce.

The ethical issues and challenges of responding to children and young people experiencing family violence have been amplified by COVID19. Ensuring safety for our patients /clients, families and staff requires brave discussions, broad perspectives and shared responses. Presenting on the experience of the Royal Children’s Hospital during the Victoria Stage 4 lockdown, this session hopes to create one such opportunity.

Danielle Harris & Amy Pammenter

Danielle Arlanda Harris, PhD is the Deputy Director-Research of the Griffith Youth Forensic Service (GYFS) and a Senior Lecturer in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith University. She has published more than 25 articles and book chapters and has given over 50 presentations at international conferences. Her research examines sexual aggression through a developmental and life course perspective, examining onset, specialization and versatility, desistance, and related public policy. Her study of civilly committed sex offenders in Massachusetts was funded by the Guggenheim Foundation and she received a grant from the California Sex Offender Management Board for a statewide survey of community supervision practices. She recently received the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology (ANZSOC) Christine M Alder Book Award for her first book, Desistance from Sexual Offending.

Amy Pammenter works as a Clinician with the Griffith Youth Forensic Service providing assessment and treatment services to young people who have committed offences of a sexual nature, their families and community. She is a Psychologist and PhD candidate at Griffith University. Amy has experience in working with children, adolescents and adults in the areas of diagnostic assessment, cognitive assessment and therapeutic intervention. After completing a student placement with GYFS, Amy realised her interest in working with young people, focusing on systemic intervention in addition to individual treatment.

Adverse Childhood Experiences in Adjudicated Youth

This study replicates recent work by Levenson et al., (2017) and Hall et al., (2018) to provide a cultural comparison of self-reported Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in a sample of 470 Australian adolescents adjudicated for sexual offences. Our results indicate a high prevalence of physical and emotional abuse and neglect, chaotic family life, and parental mental health challenges when compared to similar samples internationally. The Griffith Youth Forensic Service explicitly prioritizes those cases who are identified to be high risk and high need. Although these results are somewhat unsurprising, the sheer magnitude and frequency of these ACE scores is cause for concern. Unlike previous examinations of ACEs, we also explore the differential impact of experiencing trauma in multiple categories and situations and describe the implications of cumulative trauma for our sample, and for the community more broadly. Finally, we explore the nature and extent of ACEs over time by examining the temporal ordering of these experiences at an individual level. This longitudinal perspective allows for a particularly rich understanding of a person’s childhood development than traditional cross-sectional level data can.

Nicole Lambert

Nicci is the CEO of Allambee the specialist Sexual Violence and Family and Domestic Violence therapeutic service in the Peel region. As a Counselling Psychologist over the past 20 years Nicci has worked across various specialist areas including sexual and family violence, child protection, alcohol and other drugs, and tertiary education. She is a committed advocate for sexual and family violence prevention and is the current Vice Chair of the National Association for Services Against Sexual Violence, Co-Chair of the WA Sexual Violence Expert Advisory Group; and Chair of the Peel Says Not to Violence Alliance. 

Navigating consent in the context of young relationships

Why do we need to talk specifically about young people and sexual violence? Recent data indicates that violence against women is more prevalent among young women.  Young women in the 18-24 age group are the most likely to have experienced violence in the past 12 months and experience sexual violence at twice the national average (ABS, 2017b). 

Adolescence and young adulthood are critical stages in development where gender identities, roles and relationship patterns are consolidated.  Equipping young people with knowledge about gender equality, gender roles and healthy relationship practices is essential if we are to create a future that is free from violence against women.  But is education enough? Knowledge while essential, does not always translate into action and on its own is not sufficient to create real change. This is particularly important when considering the concept of sexual consent. 

Consent is widely understood as an essential element of respectful relationship education however the concept of consent in practice is far more complex than it seems. There has also been increasing recognition of the need to better define the concept of sexual consent to reflect the requirement to actively seek consent. This is an important development and is something that should be addressed when educating young people to ensure they clearly understand what seeking and providing consent actually looks like. 

It is also necessary to recognise the complexities of negotiating sexual consent in the context of young people’s relationships.  The current context for young people presents many barriers to creating change in attitudes and behaviour. Contemporary narratives around gender, the unmitigated rise of social media, use of dating apps and the increasing prevalence of pornography all present unique challenges for young people as they navigate sexual relationships.  So, in addition to developing knowledge, it is imperative that we also explore ways to better equip our young people with the skills they need to negotiate consent in their sexual relationships.