Training course aims to deliver new approach to family and domestic violence

Headshot of Fraser Williams
Fraser WilliamsGeraldton Guardian
DART founder and director Jolene Ellat (centre) with local service providers.
Camera IconDART founder and director Jolene Ellat (centre) with local service providers. Credit: Fraser Williams/Geraldton Guardian

A national domestic abuse group was in Geraldton this week to train local service providers on its approach that challenges the notion that women who are victims fail to protect their children.

The nationally accredited family and domestic violence informed training course from the Domestic Abuse Resource and Training Group (DART) aims to deliver a holistic view of domestic violence and how to best support survivors of violence, children and perpetrators.

The four-day course trains participants in assessments, interviewing, case noting and case planning.

DART director and founder Jolene Ellat said the course differed from others because it was focused on working with high-risk families.

“We are often working at the sticky end where children have been removed or are about to be removed,” she said.

“What we’re hoping to achieve is that where it’s safe to do so, we want to keep the children safe and together with the non-offending or protective parent.”

Stronger focus is placed on changing the approach on how domestic violence is viewed and the language that is used through the Safe and Together model, which challenges the idea that women who are victims of domestic violence fail to protect their children.

“What we’re really seeing is that shift from the old paradigm, where Mum doesn’t get her kids to school three times that week. Instead, what we are seeing is language now, that despite the abuse taking place in the home Mum managed to get the kids to school twice,” Ms Ellat said.

This approach focuses on holding the perpetrators accountable for the domestic violence and trying to change their attitudes on violence in the household.

“That doesn’t mean being combative or collusive with perpetrators, but just holding an ethical space for men to be able to reflect on their behaviour and seek help,” Ms Ellat said.

She said remote and regional communities had a strong response to the course.

“We’ve seen greater collaboration and integration in terms of service system responses, so we definitely see a holistic approach when we all come together,” she said.

Although attention on family and domestic violence has become widespread, Ms Ellat said the stigma surrounding it still existed and there was a long way to go.

“That stigma does come from community awareness and a lot of work needs to be done on that grassroots level, so within schools, within local community and within parenting groups” she said.

If you or someone you know is experiencing family violence, phone 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) or the Crisis Care Helpline on 1800 199 008.

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