High-Risk Cases at the Intersection of Domestic/Family Violence and Child Protection: Learning from Practice

Abstract

Domestic/family violence (DFV) and child protection co-occurrence of risk is common, with related homicides remaining a grave public concern. Recognising and prioritising high-risk cases that pose a lethal risk remains a complex challenge for practitioners across a range of services and legal jurisdictions. There are significant gaps in practice knowledge about how to assess and respond to high-risk cases involving child protection and DFV concerns, while working safely and effectively. This paper reports on qualitative research conducted with practitioners from a range of justice and service delivery organisations in Queensland, Australia. A community of practice, supported by the U.S. based Safe & Together Institute, provided the forum for data to be collected on participants’ reflections and observations. An action research framework was employed to connect practice learning into research data through an iterative cycle of reflection and review. Ethnographic note taking was used to document arising policy and practice issues. Discussions in the CoP were also recorded and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis was undertaken combining inductive and deductive techniques. Key findings include: learning from and partnering with women; applying a perpetrator pattern-based approach in high-risk cases; engaging with men as fathers; and improving the role of the judicial system. Practice needs to be informed by centring the victim/survivor perspective, which requires a collaborative approach while maintaining system integrity to hold the perpetrator within system responses to ensure accountability. There are important learnings for developing service sector responses and future research on high-risk cases.

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Correspondence to Menka Tsantefski.

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Tsantefski, M., Young, A., Wilde, T. et al. High-Risk Cases at the Intersection of Domestic/Family Violence and Child Protection: Learning from Practice. J Fam Viol (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10896-021-00255-8

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Keywords

  • Domestic and family violence
  • High risk
  • Child protection