Be aware of legislation about domestic and family violence and the intersection with their work.
The main principle under the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (the Act) is that the safety, protection and wellbeing of people who fear or experience domestic violence, including children, are paramount.
In 2016, amendments to the Act (Domestic and Family Violence Protection and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016) improved responses by:
- introducing a framework that enables government and non-government entities to share information for the purpose of assessing risk and responding to serious domestic violence threats
- expanding the protection that police officers can provide to victims prior to a court deciding whether to make a domestic violence order (DVO)
- requiring the court to focus on the protection needed by a victim in determining the appropriate duration of a DVO
- requiring the court to consider any existing parenting order it is aware of and whether that order needs to be varied or suspended if it is inconsistent with the protection needed by the victim or their children
- increasing maximum penalties for breaches of police protection notices and release conditions to achieve consistency with the penalty for breaching a DVO
The role of practitioners in relation to legal matters and courts has moved beyond that of removal of children to also considering how children and their mother can be protected in the court system when domestic and family violence is a factor.
The need for protection will be established when patterns of coercive control, abusive behaviour and acts of protection are mapped after talking to the mother, father and child about what is happening, using the Safe and Together model.
It may be necessary to make changes to family law parenting orders or apply for a domestic violence protection order to protect both the mother and the child victim.
Specialist domestic and family violence workers in Family and Child Connect, Intensive Family Support services or specialist domestic and family violence services can provide support to the mother and practitioner in relation to domestic violence protection orders.
The Act, Part 5A allows practitioners who are prescribed entities to share information appropriately (including without consent) in order to assess and manage domestic and family violence risk. Child Safety is a prescribed entity. The Domestic and Family Violence Information Sharing Guidelines outline the principles and guidance for information sharing without consent.
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Child Safety's approach to domestic and family violence
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