Uniting: dealing with domestic violence

The Parenting Research Centre developed a practice framework for Uniting (formerly UnitingCare Burnside) in New South Wales (NSW). The framework aimed to strengthen parent and family functioning and improve child outcomes in families where domestic violence is present.

In consultation with senior management and other key stakeholders, we identified desired outcomes and target populations, and created a contextually relevant approach to supporting families.

A literature review helped us identify interventions with effective evidence-based program components that can increase family functioning and reduce the incidence of domestic violence. These interventions included strengthening caregiver skills, social connections and coping strategies.

These interventions are considered part of a harm reduction approach that maintains at its forefront the safety of family members, particularly that of the children. This approach incorporates strategies that can be implemented whether the parents separate or stay together. It also may help to reduce the harmful consequences of family violence for both women and children.

We also helped the organisation build its capacity to meet its goals by applying a structured implementation process:

  • developed data systems to support decision making
  • delivered coaching to support the workforce
  • established implementation teams within the organisation
  • introduced continuous quality improvement.

The practice framework is now being trialled at two NSW locations, with plans to review and evaluate its effectiveness.