The vanguard of change: opportunities and challenges for innovation in women’s shelters following the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence (改變的先鋒:維多利亞州皇家家庭暴力委員會在創新婦女庇護所面臨的機會與挑戰)

11/06/2019 - 11:15 to 11/06/2019 - 12:45
Proposal(Workshop / Presentation)
Coordinating organization: 
RMIT University
New Methods in Shelter Management and Social Work
Organization Name: 
RMIT University (皇家墨爾本理工大學)
Proposer: Juliet Watson
Describe your workshop/presentation (300-500 words): 
In 2016, the Victorian Government in Australia concluded a two-year Royal Commission into Family Violence – a world-first investigation undertaken to examine policy, legal, and service responses to women and children experiencing domestic and family violence. A key finding of the Royal Commission was that greater knowledge was needed about how service providers respond to women and children who require shelter accommodation. Drawing on a study conducted in response to recommendations put forward by the Royal Commission, and funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, this paper analyses the work of women’s shelters in Victoria including the factors that enable and constrain the work of family violence practitioners.

Interviews and focus groups were conducted with 100 stakeholders, representing 40 service providers, government agencies, and peak bodies. These comprised a range of sectors in rural and metropolitan Victoria including family violence, housing and homelessness, disability, Aboriginal, LGBTIQ, health and mental health, immigration, child protection and legal. Interviews were also conducted with 22 women, ranging in age from 20s to 70s, who had experienced domestic and/or family violence and had encountered the crisis accommodation system. This study found that the shelters, despite resource limitations, provide practical, material and emotional support, as well as offering the space for women and children to start rebuilding their lives following violence. This paper discusses the innovative ways in which shelters are meeting the diverse needs of women and children. Furthermore, this study provides the evidence-base for recommendations to maximise the accessibility and efficacy of women’s shelters and to provide guidance on how to improve the shelter experience for women and children in this rapidly evolving policy and practice environment.

All Speakers:
Jacqui Theobald
Dr Jacqui Theobald is a lecturer in social work and social policy at La Trobe university. Her areas of research interest include the historical and contemporary context of domestic violence services, gender-based violence and homelessness. Jacqui has experience collaborating successfully with industry partners across a range of contexts and conducting qualitative research involving in-depth-interviews with diverse groups including those marginalised experiencing violence and homelessness. Jacqui has experience in direct practice as a social worker in the field of homelessness with young people in non-governments organisations in Melbourne and Adelaide. She has also worked in policy development and advocacy in government and non-government organisations in Melbourne. Since joining the La Trobe University social work program in 2011, she has taught on the topic areas of homelessness, social policy, poverty and inequality, field education and reflection and integration.
Jane Bullen
Dr Jane Bullen is an independent researcher who has previously worked at the Social Policy Research Centre, University of NSW and at RMIT University. Jane’s past experience includes research, evaluation, policy and program work in academic, government and non-government contexts including in homelessness and domestic violence services. Jane’s doctoral thesis analysed changes in the ways in which the phenomenon of ‘homelessness’ has been understood in Australian policies, programs and services since the 1970s. Her primary areas of research interest are homelessness, women’s homelessness and domestic violence. Recent research areas include domestic violence and women’s economic security; the work of Victorian women’s shelters; and assisting women experiencing long-term and recurrent homelessness.
Suellen Murray
Professor Suellen Murray is a research leader and the Deputy Dean (Research and Innovation) in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University. She has a long history of successfully leading and managing research projects for government and non-government agencies. Over the past two decades, Suellen has researched in the areas of homelessness, pregnancy, domestic and family violence, sexual assault, and care-leavers’ access to personal records. She has written two books concerned with care-leavers: Supporting Adult-care Leavers: International Good Practice (Policy Press, 2015) and the co-authored After the Orphanage: Life Beyond the Children's Home (UNSW Press, 2009). She is also the author of More than Refuge: Changing Responses to Domestic Violence (UWA Press, 2002), and co-author of Domestic Violence: Australian Public Policy (2011, Australian Scholarly Publishing) and Half a Citizen: Life on Welfare in Australia (2011, Allen & Unwin), which won the 2011 Australian Human Rights Commission Award for Non-fiction Literature.
Juliet Watson
Dr Juliet Watson is the Deputy Director of the Unison Housing Research Lab at RMIT University and President of the Australian Women’s and Gender Studies Association. Juliet is a sociologist and social worker with extensive research, teaching and practice experience in the areas of violence against women, homelessness, and youth. Her current research projects include investigations of transitions to social housing for new tenants, gender-based violence in mental health units, and pregnancy and homelessness. Juliet's book, ‘Youth Homelessness and Survival Sex: Intimate Relationships and Gendered Subjectivities’ was published in 2018.