Concurrent Session - Day 1 - Sirius Room

Toward system responses that are trauma/FDV informed, child-centred and safety-focused

Linda Savage

Linda has a BA (Hons) in Politics and LLB (UWA), MA (University of Cambridge), Graduate Certificate in Bio-Ethics (Murdoch University) and is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

She is a former Director of the Social Security Appeals Tribunal, Member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the WA State parliament and was the Inaugural Convener of the Valuing Children Initiative.

Throughout her working life she has had a strong focus on law reform, social justice and the rights of women and children. She has co- authored two books recording women’s experiences of childbirth and abortion and has published in areas including surrogate parental contracts, the early years and bias and discrimination against children.

She has served on a wide range of committees and boards in the last 30 years including the Women’s Advisory Council to the Premier, the Reproductive Technology Council of Western Australia, the Chief Justice’s Taskforce on Gender Bias, the Executive of Women Lawyers (WA), the Art Gallery of Western Australia and the Black Swan State Theatre Company, the Taskforce to establish the State Administrative Tribunal of Western Australia and was a founding member of the Women’s Legal Service Steering Committee and was the Convener of the Management Committee.

She has twice been recognized by her legal peers. In 1997 she was awarded the Law Society of Western Australia award for Outstanding Service to the Community for her role in establishing of WA’s first dedicated legal service for women in 1996. In 2010 she was named Woman Lawyer of the Year.

She is currently on the board of the National Drug Research Institute, the State Emergency Management Committee, the Australian Council on Children and the Media and Upswell.

In 2018 she was appointed an Ambassador for Children and Young People in WA.

If violence is never ok why this one exception?

Many people are surprised to learn that the use of ‘physical force’ is acceptable and defendable in Australia when the person on the receiving end of that assault is a child, it is rebranded as corporal punishment (CP) and is deemed to be reasonable ‘correction.’

In Western Australia, Section 257 of the Criminal Code provides that:

‘It is lawful for a parent or a person in the place of a parent, or for a school master, to use by way of correction, towards a child or pupil under his care, such force as is reasonable under the circumstances.’

In 1979 Sweden became the first country to explicitly ban all forms of CP. To date 60 countries have prohibited CP including in the home and by parents. The evidence supporting this action could not be clearer. Children who are subject to CP can suffer negative outcomes including mental health problems, anti-social behaviour and low self-esteem. They are also at higher risk of becoming involved in intimate partner violence in adulthood, both as a victim and a perpetrator. The use of physical force infringes children’s human right to protection from harm and is completely out of step with the message that violence is never acceptable.

Repealing s.257 of the Criminal Code would mean children have the same protection as adults from assault and redefine what is acceptable in how we treat them. It would not create a new offence.

This presentation will review the research on the impact of CP on children and the connection between CP and intimate partner violence in adulthood, describe the work of the global initiative to end all CP and argue why the WA state parliament should repeal the defence to the use of physical force against children and send an unequivocal message that violence is never ok.

Carrie Hannington

Originally a registered nurse from the UK, Carrie obtained a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) from the University of WA in 2000, having juggled studies for a number of years with work and with being a single mum. She has diverse experience (both legal and non-legal) in both the community sector and private practice, as well as in government, public policy, unions and the health sector.
Associated with the community legal sector since 2004, Carrie was chair of the CLWA Executive from 2017-2019 and managed the Women’s Legal Service WA from 2016 to 2019. She also has many years’ experience in working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in legal practice, the public service and Aboriginal organisations and has worked extensively in both metro and remote areas of WA.
Now a grandmother and dedicated to human rights and social justice, Carrie is passionate about access to justice and is currently engaged by Community Legal WA in Projects and Policy. She is involved with a number of initiatives that seek to empower individuals through raising awareness about the value of early legal assistance in making informed decisions, safety and in avoidance of further problems.

Effective legal referrals: Legal Health Checks

When legal support is provided at an early stage to vulnerable cohorts in family and domestic violence situations, there is a focus on legal rights, safety of victims (usually women and children), and accountability of perpetrators. A person given appropriate information regarding their rights, responsibilities and the pathway through the justice system is empowered to make informed decisions and take informed actions, reducing the likelihood of a range of adverse consequences, trauma and tragedy.

Yet both clients and service providers in FDV frequently fail to recognise problems as “legal”, so proceed without legal assistance in the equation. This is particularly unfortunate for parents, children and young people, where consequences can be extreme and include separation of families, family violence, criminality, incarceration, poverty and homelessness.

Barriers to accessing legal services can include a lack of knowledge of available services, as well as of lack of awareness of legal rights, options for redress and which legal process to follow. This presentation will succinctly:

1. Provide an outline of available free legal assistance services, with a focus on those that provide a service to families and children;
2. Provide a demonstration of the importance of early legal assistance/support within holistic service delivery responses;
3. Present the Legal Health Check (LHC), as an effective, adaptable tool that can be used to identify legal issues, providing trauma-informed, culturally appropriate and effective referrals by non-legal providers to legal assistance providers;
4. Illustrate some other advantages of the LHC, such as a safeguard against inadvertent provision of legal advice by non-legal providers; and
4. Provide direction as to the formation of meaningful referrals and relationships that can occur through development of specific LHC tools, developed between legal and non-legal providers.

Group presentation – Cheryl Munzel, Yvette Jaczina

Cheryl Munzel – (lead presenter) (Che) oversees and delivers therapeutic/clinical services that are trauma informed, evidence based and informed, and underpinned by feminist theoretical frameworks. She has a long-standing commitment to understanding societal structures and culture. Cheryl holds a Bachelor of Social Work and a Master of Narrative Therapy & Community Work and has worked for the Centre for Non-Violence since 2002.

Yvette Jaczina is instrumental in establishing strong partnerships, delivery of services and practices that deliver positive outcomes for service users and the broader community, in line with the CNV strategic plan and feminist philosophy. Starting her career as a social worker, Yvette has been working in the community sector since 2000. Since then she has held senior strategic leadership positions in mental health, homelessness, youth services and family services. She has a strong commitment to women’s and children’s safety and to women’s empowerment.


Keeping families Safe, Thriving and Connected

We will present Safe, Thriving & Connected “STC”, an innovative and integrated safety and recovery model that delivers specialist therapeutic interventions to victim survivors experiencing and/or recovering from family violence. The model was developed by The Loddon Gender Equality and Violence Prevention Consortium, we have a long history in working in partnership and are experienced service providers in the delivery of integrated and coordinated specialist family violence services and system responses across the Loddon area in Central Victoria (6 local government areas).  We have partnered to share our specialist expertise and approaches, increase our capacity and reach.  By working in collaboration, we have increased the range of therapeutic modalities, services and supports to all victim survivors of family violence and address the needs of children and their protective parent, most often their mothers. STC identifies and responds to therapeutic needs, enabling victim survivors to recover and thrive. We provide trauma informed and evidenced based services to support recovery and healing for mothers, and their children and work to restore the mother-child dyad that has often been impacted by the offending parents’ violence and abuse.  Interventions and services are accessible and embedded within broader service system responses, with soft entry points and community partnerships. We build referral pathways, by providing a common framework for assessing risk and safety, therapeutic readiness, case management and transition to community supports that sustain healing and recovery. 
Safe – Safety is at the core of everything we do, therapeutic programs are intentionally and structurally integrated.
Thriving – Children and young people are provided restorative and recovery support
Connected – self, a stronger identity
Family, reconnected and repaired relationships
Community, engaged and contributing to family life and society more broadly

Group Presentation – Beth Wagland, Rebecca Norman & Kathryn Millist-Spendlove

Beth Wagland has been working within the mental health sector as a trauma and family and child therapist for approximately 15 years. She is in the dissertation phase of a PhD in clinical psychology within the states and is currently completing a Masters of Social Work at Southern Cross University in Australia. Prior to beginning her PhD in clinical psychology, she completed coursework for a Masters in Pre and Perinatal Psychology. She currently works as a sexual violence and child and family counsellor. Her specialities and areas of interest include trauma-specific interventions (re both domestic and politically generated trauma); developmental systems theory; human rights-based practice; psychodynamic theory; and non-linear theories of human behaviour and development. Prior to beginning work in the fields of psychology and social work, she worked as an early childhood educator.

Rebecca Norman is an emerging practitioner in the field of domestic and family violence with a degree in Behavioural Science (psychology) and Masters of Social Work at the Queensland University of Technology. Rebecca currently works as a family counsellor at the Domestic Violence Action Centre in regional QLD. Rebecca is feminist child-centred practitioner who is committed to advocating for the human rights of families to live free from violence.

Kathryn Millist-Spendlove is a registered counsellor working with survivors of sexual violence as a Sexual Violence Counsellor at the Domestic Violence Action Centre. She is a former lawyer who specialised in Abuse Law and was part of a national team arising out of the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse. Following a move from Sydney to regional Queensland, she retrained as a counsellor, building on her existing qualifications in psychology. Kathryn completed a Graduate Diploma of Counselling with Distinction and is currently completing her Master of Counselling through the University of Southern Queensland. She previously worked as a counsellor and program facilitator within the prison system, before moving to work in the domestic violence sector. She is a proud mother to a 3 year-old and a cat.

Colonising childhood: Listening to Ian’s Rhino

A mother asks a lawyer to help her ensure that her 8 year-old daughter’s voice can be heard regarding her fears of her father. The child has been harmed by her father and has watched him brutalize her mother. The lawyer responds, “Children need to be children. Your job is to speak for her. Remember however, that it is important that children have meaningful relationships with both parents.” A 7-year-old boy calls his anger, Rhino. He has been subject to poverty, the death of a harsh, abusive father whom he loved, and a broken attachment with his mother due to intimate partner violence. He is given a behavioural chart designed to motivate him to make better choices. He often fails to make the “right choices” and is currently being assessed for clinical disorders. As those working with children subject to domestic and sexual violence know, the above scenes are not uncommon. Despite well-meaning intentions, both scenarios speak to deficit models of childhood, and to the ways in which children’s’ voices risk not being heard. When this occurs, children become increasingly vulnerable to harm. The colonisation and othering of children is important when exploring and confronting deficit models of childhood – models which present children as fundamentally different and alien from standard adults. Therefore, children’s voices hold less value. This presentation will contribute to debates regarding theoretical constructs such as the social construction of childhood, parental alienation, and the colonisation and othering of children. The rights of the child will be interwoven throughout this discussion. We will also confront mainstream developmental theory with children existing at the bottom of a hierarchy with men resting at the top. In order to ensure that existing systems are trauma-informed, safety-focused, and child-centred, we must envisage a paradigm which reflects an understanding of the emotional competencies of children.

Adeyinka Hussain & Joanne Green

Adeyinka Hussain has a Bachelor of Law and a Masters of Social Work, (Qualifying) and joined The Department of Territory Families Housing and Communities in 2019 as a child protection practitioner, and has since attained the position of a senior practitioner. Prior to joining the department she was a youth worker with a couple of NGOs in Sydney NSW where she was privileged to work alongside a diverse group of young people and their families.
At TFHC, she has been been able to put a number of social work values into her work, these values including the importance of human relationships, competence, integrity and social justice.

Jo Green is a social worker who has lived and worked in Alice Springs since 2009. Her passion is working in the domestic violence sector to improve systemic responses to domestic violence. She was previously at NPY Women’s Council’s Domestic and Family Violence Service and currently supports practitioners in their work at Territory Families.

Changing the System – DV Informed Practice

Territory Families, Housing and Communities (TFHC) has partnered with the Safe and Together Institute to change the way TFHC works with perpetrators, non-offending parents and children around domestic and family violence. By aligning with the Safe and Together principles of holding perpetrators accountable and partnering with the non-offending parent the work of TFHC Practitioners is becoming more domestic violence informed and working towards outcomes that ultimately keep children safer.
As TFHC embarked on this journey, three Practitioners became aware of a case that had been open for almost 18 months and had been known to TFHC for five years. The Intensive Family Support Service working with the family was frustrated with the mother, as in all the time they had worked with her, and TFHC had worked with her, ‘nothing had changed’. TFHC continued to receive information about the family which was assessed as the mother not parenting her children adequately and responding inappropriately to her five year old son’s challenging behaviours. Her husband was in prison, it was not clear why, or how long for, but the common community perception was that, ‘she put him there’, as she had reported him to the police.
TFHC undertook the work of applying the Safe and Together Model. Analysing the patterns of domestic abuse, they identified the gaps in information and practice errors that had had been made. By undertaking this work, it informed the way forward – both by partnering with the mother and holding the father accountable.
By implementing the Safe and Together model in cases where there is domestic abuse, TFHC is implementing a system that keeps the perpetrator visible and accountable for their behaviour. Combined with partnering with the non-offending parent this has a direct and positive impact on child safety and family functioning.