30 August 2013

Child with parents fighting in the background Improving the parenting experiences of children and the safety of women is the aim of a new project, being undertaken by University of South Australia’s Australian Centre for Child Protection (ACCP), which will research how men who have used violence in their families are parenting.

ACCP will head up the research in South Australia for the almost $1.2m ARC Linkage project, which is being led nationally by the University of Melbourne in collaboration with researchers from University of Western Australia. The three universities will work together with nearly 20 partner organisations including three state governments to identify fathering issues.

The research will help in the development of standards for interventions by practitioners who work with men in situations of family violence.

Associate Professor Leah Bromfield, deputy director of the ACCP at the University of South Australia, explained how little consideration is given to children when incidents of domestic violence occur.

“Children are often overlooked in the context of domestic violence and there is limited research on fathering by men who perpetrate domestic violence,” Assoc Prof Bromfield says.

“Children are not passive bystanders in this environment and the trauma of living in constant fear is associated with developmental delay. The reality is that children who experience domestic violence are also at a heightened risk of experiencing physical abuse, sexual abuse and neglect.

“Men who use violence do need to understand the effects of domestic violence on their children, to consider the way in which their behaviour is impacting on their fathering, and to learn how to be both a better spouse and a better parent.

“The opportunity to research fathering issues through this project will help develop evidence about the circumstances in which men who have used violence are parenting and the interventions aimed to address men’s violence.

“Ultimately this evidence will be used to improve the parenting experience of children and to try and help them to grow up in an environment without fear.”

The Fathering, family and domestic violence and intervention challenges project is one of several that the ACCP is co-partnering in its role to advance child protection policy and practice.

Contact for interview

Leah Bromfield office 8302 2924 email leah.bromfield@unisa.edu.au

Media Contact

Media contact: Kelly Stone office 8302 0963 mobile 0417 861 832 email Kelly.stone@unisa.edu.au

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