The Domestic and Family Violence and Parenting program is an extensive mixed method project that examines the impact of inter-parental conflict (IPC) and domestic and family violence (DFV) on parenting and parent–child relationships. It makes a unique contribution by bringing together evidence on a diversity of Australian populations, life-course stages, and experiences of IPC and DFV. The research captures the experiences and impacts on fathers, mothers, and children at varying ages and stages of development and independence. This has enabled identification of important issues that are shared or differ across gender and family structure. The results illustrate the impacts of IPC and DFV that affect a large number of families, as well as the experiences of those who have undergone highly challenging and traumatic circumstances.
The research findings have significant police and practice implications at a range of levels, including:
- Women who engage with services against a background of DFV have a number of complex material and psychosocial needs.
- If women are not already engaged with a specialist DFV service, then such a referral is usually necessary.
- It is likely that women and their children are experiencing ongoing abuse unless contact with the perpetrator has ceased and other safety measures to prevent abuse are available (e.g. being legally permitted to live at an undisclosed address to prevent stalking).
- Women may need assistance and referral in relation to financial and housing needs, including being informed about the availability of Financial Wellbeing and Capability services and Financial Counselling.
- Women and their children may be experiencing physical and emotional consequences from DFV and abuse and may need long-term therapeutic assistance.
- Mothers may need referrals to programs and services that will support the restoration of parenting capacity from a perspective of understanding the dynamics of DFV, including programs that offer services to mothers and children together. Children may also need assistance separately.
- Where relationships between fathers and children are being maintained, fathers may need referral to services in relation to parenting. Where this is occurring, the wellbeing and safety of children need to be monitored.
- Service providers should be alert to the fact that their services and other types of services and agencies may be used in a pattern of systems abuse. Staff, including legal professionals, should be trained to recognise this and provide appropriate advice and referrals where this is occurring.