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Support for non-violent parent is key to protecting kids, says researcher

Support for non-violent parent is key to protecting kids, says researcher

Published:05 September 2017

CQUniversity Domestic and Family Violence Practice expert, Dr Silke Meyer.

Child protection services are increasingly recognising that the long-standing practice of responding to children exposed to domestic violence in isolation from the non-abusive parent or carer is not effective protection, a CQUniversity researcher says.

And as Australia marks Child Protection Week (3 – 9 September), Dr Silke Meyer is working with first responders in child protection cases, to ensure the best outcomes for children beyond removing them from abusive situations.

The domestic violence and child protection expert said that includes responding to children and the non-violent parent as a single unit.

“Research has shown us again and again, you need to protect and support the non-violent parent – which in the majority of cases is the mother – to effectively protect the children,” Dr Meyer said.

“Unless frontline responders are working with that parent, there’s a range of potential negative outcomes for the children, so workers need to know that, and understand the research that’s informing it.”

Last year, Dr Meyer led CQUniversity’s introduction of a new suite of postgraduate programs in Domestic and Family Violence Practice.

Courses include a unit in Child Safety and Domestic Violence, and Dr Meyer currently has 32 students taking on the confronting topic.

“There’s definitely growing interest – we’ve seen numbers double each time we’ve offered the unit, with most of our students already working in the field and wanting to better understand how to work effectively.”

Dr Meyer, who is also  leading two program evaluations for Child Safety that examine the effectiveness of interventions aligning with mothers as primary victims and holding perpetrators accountable in their role as fathers, said the courses are designed to develop skills for workers in a range of community, criminal justice, health and child safety organisations, or people aspiring to careers in those fields.

With a Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma and Master  in Domestic and Family Violence Practice, and a Graduate Certificate in Facilitating Men’s Behaviour Change, the courses are available for flexible distance study.

Students can also enrol in individual stand-alone units, providing an important professional development opportunity for busy frontline workers.

For more information about CQUniversity and the Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research, visit