UNIFEM Informs seminar

Marking White Ribbon Day: the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW) 2005

Short fuse: Realities and solutions in family violence

Co-presented by UNIFEM Australia and The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, UniSA

Thursday 24 November 2005

The third in the series of Adelaide seminars on social issues

Guest speakers

In the context of IDEVAW and the aim to raise awareness, the purpose of the seminar will be to explore family violence issues with special focus on:

  • understanding the extent of the problem for mothers and children and what can help in combating it
  • understanding how men can be assisted to overcome tendencies towards violent behaviour in families and how men themselves are coming up with solutions
  • what we can do within the community to address family violence issues


At the request of the speaker, we are not following the usual procedure of supplying the transcript. This is for reasons of privacy to the affected victims and the extremely tragic nature of the experience. However, the speaker has supplied a written synopsis of the tsunami scenario he witnessed.

Dr Elspeth McInnes – National Council of Single Mothers and their Children

Dr Elspeth McInnes is the Convenor of the National Council of Single Mothers and their Children and a Deputy President of Australian Council of Social Services. In these roles she is an advocate for single mothers and their children, and also more broadly for people living on low incomes and experiencing disadvantage. Elspeth is employed as an academic in the School of Education at the University of South Australia and her research and teaching interests focus on families living on low incomes and families dealing with issues of family violence and abuse. Her doctoral research examined the impact of family violence on mothers' transitions into single parent households. She is currently researching separated mothers' attitudes to father-child contact. As an academic and an advocate Elspeth has a keen continuing role in the areas of family law, child support and welfare to work changes and the combined impacts of pending policy changes on single parent families - particularly around financial and personal safety issues.


How the family law system fails to protect mothers and children from post-separation violence. Domestic violence is the biggest health problem facing women aged 15-44 in contemporary Australian society and a major contributor to family breakdown. The expectation that women can ‘just leave’ violent partners discounts the power of the family law system in ensuring that mothers and children continue to have a relationship with their abuser. The federal family law system relies on eight different state and territory jurisdictions to provide responses to violence or abuse towards children and adults. Each jurisdiction has its own legislative provisions defining and governing responses to domestic violence and child protection. Family law judges are typically dismissive of state domestic violence orders as being ‘unreliable’ and ‘too easy to obtain’ and in any case frequently decide that contact with a parent who uses violence on family members is in the child’s best interests. State child protection systems are typically under-resourced and under pressure and themselves grapple with the difficulty of achieving safety for children being abused. But the family law system has no independent legislative or practical capacity to investigate domestic violence or child protection concerns. The federal government has said it wants the states to do the job, but the states and territories have no resources, statutory mandate or training to provide investigative and protective services to the family law system. While Australia’s nine governments continue to play ‘chicken’ with responsibility for protecting separating families from violence and abuse the death and injury toll continues to rise.

Rob Hall - Nada Consultancy and Training

Rob has focused his work on providing intensive counselling to men and adolescent boys. His interest in this field began in a Crisis Intervention service where he saw that women and children were bearing the brunt of men’s violence. He has worked with others to find approaches that invite men to take responsibility for their violence and to ensure the safety and well being of women and children.

Dallas Colley - Domestic Violence Training and Consulting

Dallas has worked in the area of Domestic Violence for 25 years. In that time she has gained extensive experience in casework and group work with women subjected to abuse and violence and with men who are abusive and violent to their women partners. She has provided and initiated training programs for service providers of all professions, provided consultancy to agencies, supervision and developed National Competency Standards. She has published: articles about her work with men, National reviews, proposals and delivery models into programs for men and women. The National Competency Standards were published in 2004.


Dallas and Rob have worked together over a number of projects and have developed a teaching approach that encourages service providers to acknowledge gender history and to work collaboratively to reduce domestic violence and improve the safety, well being and status of women and children.

UNIFEM Australia

The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) is a non-profit organisation working to help improve the living standards of women and children in developing countries and to address their concerns. It is a global organisation with programs which promote women's leadership, with the goal to give women an equal voice in the decisions that shape their future and that of their children. The aim of the UNIFEM Informs seminars is to promote the role and work undertaken by UNIFEM to the general public.

UNIFEM Informs is a UNIFEM Australia initiative. Additional web sites which may be of interest: UNIFEM Australia / Respect for Women seminar