On 19 July 2016, the VFLPN Greater Melbourne with the Women’s Legal Service Victoria provided ‘Family Violence and the Law’ training to 20 students undertaking degrees in Law or completing Practical Legal Training. The motivation for such an event stems from the understanding that Family violence training that includes an outline of the processes of obtaining an Intervention Order (‘IVO’) are not built into family law or equivalent subjects taught at Universities or Practical Legal Training. This is despite being a pertinent area where students are likely to enter a career path where they will be assisting victims of domestic violence. Following on from last year’s collaborative training with the Domestic Violence Resource Centre of Victoria, the VFLPN partnered with the Women’s Legal Service to provide training to students so they may understand the definitions of family violence under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic), the processes and procedures for obtaining an Intervention Order and the intersection with the Federal Courts and Child Protection.
The target audience were Law and Social Sciences students interested in pursuing careers in the family law sector. Participants were primarily made up from the Information and Referral Kiosk program.
Participants were educated on the definition of family violence, its prevalence, its gendered nature and its impact. By referring back to one case example, the relevant courts, procedures and types of orders were canvassed:
Police applications and Family Violence Safety Notices;
Court structures that have the jurisdiction to order IVO and the relevant procedural steps;
Who can apply for an IVO;
Service of documents;
Interim vs Final IVO;
Consenting to an IVO without an admission;
Undertakings to the Court;
Registering interstate IVOs or equivalent orders;
Consequences of breaching an IVO;
Relevant court for Child Protection and court for parenting and property matters at the breakdown of a marriage or intimate relationship; and
Referral processes to other professionals.
The training also briefly discussed the Common Risk Assessment Framework (CRAF) factors and was tailored specifically to our volunteer’s role in providing referrals. The program concluded with an examination of how to take these skills and knowledge to either future professions or even on a personal basis providing support to friends and family experiencing family violence.
The training was conducted in an open format where participants were invited to share knowledge and insights. Active discussion was encouraged and the trainers made use of group work, Prezi presentation technology and active participation from the attendees. This, together with the knowledge and experience of the trainers, made for an information and engaging experience. Feedback from both the participants and trainers was extremely positive.