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Domestic violence services during COVID-19

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SPRC Seminar with kylie valentine, Natasha Cortis, Ciara Smyth, Delia Donovan and Jan Breckenridge

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COVID-19 changed patterns of domestic and family violence, presented new barriers to service use, and prompted rapid changes in models of service delivery and client engagement. In this presentation we firstly discuss how stay-at-home orders and limits to social interaction heightened the risks of intimate partner violence, especially coercive control. Second, we examine practitioners’ experiences of rapidly adjusting service models as physical distancing requirements triggered expanded use of phone, email, video calls and messaging, and many face-to-face interventions temporarily ceased. Many found technology-mediated service delivery improved accessibility and efficiency, but were concerned about assessing risk without face-to-face contact, and were unsure whether new service modalities would meet the needs of all client groups and reflect best practice. Findings attest to practitioners' mixed experiences of service innovation and change through this period, underlining the importance of monitoring adaptations to develop evidence of good practice in combining remote and face-to-face service options.

kylie valentine is Deputy Director of the UNSW Social Policy Research Centre. Her research interests include the application of methods and concepts from the sociology of knowledge to new areas and concerns, with a specific focus on social disadvantage and exclusion. She conducts research on how human services are delivered and how they make up populations. kylie also conducts evaluation research on integrated service delivery and programs for children and families, and has expertise in qualitative methodologies and evaluation design. Current and recent projects include the evaluation of the NSW Integrated Domestic and Family Violence Service, a study of best practice in early intervention violence prevention for women and children with disability, a review of Australian Safe at Home projects, and a qualitative study of housing pathways after domestic and family violence.

Natasha Cortis is Associate Professor at the UNSW Social Policy Research Centre. Her work explores the organisation, delivery and evaluation of human services, focusing on issues of financial sustainability in not-for-profit organisations; funding and workforce issues in community services; and women's employment and economic security.

Ciara Smyth is Senior Research Fellow at the UNSW Social Policy Research Centre. She has over 20 years’ applied social policy and evaluation research experience covering a broad array of critical social policy issues. These include family and domestic violence, family disability support services, homelessness, parenting and drug use, child protection, refugee support services and immunisation policy. Her research program has direct policy relevance by informing and influencing policy decision-making.

Delia Donovan is Chief Executive Officer at Domestic Violence NSW. Delia has extensive experience in non-government and social services settings across Australia and the United Kingdom. She has 21 years’ experience in social work and social care settings spending the last 11 years in the domestic and family violence sector. Delia has led two domestic violence organisations as CEO: The Dash Charity (Domestic Abuse Stops Here) set in the UK and more recently White Ribbon Australia. Delia was appointed as Chair of Prosper Australia in 2016 and is deeply passionate about their work to support disadvantaged children and families across NSW at home, in school and across the community. Delia has been recognised and awarded for her work in both the UK and Australia receiving several awards for her work to innovate and effect change.

Jan Breckenridge is a Professor and Head of the UNSW School of Social Sciences, and the Co-Convener of the UNSW Gendered Violence Research Network. Jan’s research is oriented towards maximum impact in innovative social policy development, service provision and outcome measurement of effectiveness. Jan leads an evidence informed knowledge-exchange stream ‘Gendered Violence and Organisations’ which provides expert advice to government, private and third sector organisations on best practice policies and organisational response to employees and the management of customers affected by domestic and family violence, sexual assault and sexual harassment.

Need assistance to register for this seminar? Ring +612 9385 7800.

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