Annette Gillespie, CEO of Safe Steps, spoke at the recent Ending Domestic Violence Conference on the topic of early intervention and responses to family violence. She defined early intervention as taking action to tackle problems that have already emerged so as to reduce the likelihood of poor long term outcomes for families and society at large, whilst being cost effective.
She emphasised that it is not a short term fix or crisis intervention, nor does it mean just talking about the issue – it’s about taking action.
Early intervention comprises three steps:
- Early identification
- Assessment of risk
- Immediate access to support and assistance
At the moment, she says service providers often fall down in the areas of early identification and risk assessment.
Ideally, intervention should take place before the behaviour is even named as family violence. It needs to be when women are beginning to contact crisis lines, when they’re beginning to feel uncomfortable or when their partner’s behaviour has started to change. The woman is beginning to fear for herself and her children in a way that she hasn’t before, but she hasn’t yet identified it as family violence.
On the topic of what is most important to women, Annette said that three questions come up regularly: Can you see me? Do you hear me? Does what I say matter to you? To respond to these needs, service providers must be completely present when speaking to the woman, they must validate her experience and they must take action.
“It is a privilege to hear women’s stories and it’s critical you do something with what they tell you.”
Read more of Annette Gillespie’s advice, as well as conference content from a number of other speakers in the Intersections of Domestic Violence eBook. This is the second ebook in the series – the first can be downloaded here.
If you or someone you know has been affected by domestic violence, call the National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line, 1800-RESPECT (1800 737 732). In an emergency, call 000.
The National Working with Men to Tackle Family Violence Conference takes place in Sydney in February 2017. In association with No To Violence, this event will share and discuss strategies for prevention, intervention and perpetrator accountability.