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Domestic and family violence a complex issue that needs to be better understood

Domestic and family violence a complex issue that needs to be better understood

Published:14 November 2017

Leanne Rutherford is currently enrolled in the Graduate Diploma of Domestic and Family Violence Practice at CQUniversity

Domestic and family violence is an issue that impacts on every part of our community.

That’s according to CQUniversity Graduate Diploma of Domestic and Family Violence Practice (DFVP) student Leanne Rutherford.

“Domestic and family violence (DFV) is a significant issue and is an area that requires a high level of expertise and understanding,” Ms Rutherford said.

General Manager - Children, Youth and Families at Churches of Christ Care, Ms Rutherford is well-experienced in the area of DFV but said there was always room to better understand the complex and diverse issue that is DFV.

“Undertaking this postgraduate course has provided an opportunity to expand my professional knowledge and expertise in the area of DFV practice,” she said.

“This has allowed for more informed input into direct practice responses, policy and programing direction and the development of an organisation-wide approach to increase workplace safety for people experiencing DFV.”

Ms Rutherford has over 20 years’ experience working in the human services sector in both direct service delivery and leadership positions within government (Child Safety) and non-government settings.

“I have seen a significant shift in domestic violence over this time. This includes our understanding of the complexity and prevalence of domestic violence throughout our community; our greater understanding and awareness of the impact current social structures have on gender inequity; the shift in focus of responsibility and accountability for the violence and where this lies, this includes in the child protection space; and the need to work with whole families, including male perpetrators of violence, in order to effect change,” Ms Rutherford explained.

“Having said this, there is a long way to go in how we respond to domestic and family violence in an integrated and effective way to ensure the safety of (primarily) children and women, and hold perpetrators to account.  We are also yet to see early intervention and prevention programs, on a wide scale, that will support improving children receiving the right messages earlier.”

Ms Rutherford said her focus now was on the provision of the best quality support and care to vulnerable children, young people and families in Queensland.

“In order to do this I believe there needs to be a focus on the employment of the right people, with the right skills and a practice framework that ensures children and young people are safe and remain the centre of all we do.”

A mother to two young children (eight and six), Ms Rutherford said she pursued a career working with families and children in the hope to ‘make a difference’. 

“Today my goal is to support all children, including my own, to grow up in a world where they are safe, confident, supported and free to be whoever they want to be - every child deserves this.”

Born and raised in Mackay but now based in Brisbane, as part of her general manager role, Ms Rutherford is responsible for multiple services provided across Queensland, including regional and remote areas.

She enrolled in CQUni’s Graduate Diploma DFVP last year and will complete the course in 2019.

“I’ve found the course to have good, current information and research that supports day-to-day practice. It is a practical course that challenges you to critically review current ways of thinking and practicing in this field. It supports and encourages you to look at what works well and what needs to change when responding to DFV, in addition to exploring alternative approaches.

“This course in not just for those working in DFV specific services.  Whether you work in Child Protection, health, legal or education services, with elderly people or with communities more broadly, this course will provide an excellent foundation for informed practice and responding more holistically to domestic and family violence within our communities.”

For more information on CQUniversity’s suite of graduate programs in Domestic and Family Violence and Men’s Behaviour Change visit www.cqu.edu.au.