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  • Jane Holford

Event Report: High Conflict in Family Law - Good Practice Forum 2019

Updated: May 26, 2022

A few weeks ago the VFLPN hosted the 'High Conflict in Family Law - Good Practice Forum 2019'!

This forum focused on a theme of family violence and featured presentations from No to Violence and Women's Legal Service, as well as workshops on self-care and networking activities. Check out some photos from the day!

On Wednesday May 8 the POP Managers’ group along with the team from Victorian Family Law Pathways held its annual forum. Joined by colleagues from Albury/Wodonga, Gippsland, Frankston , Geelong as well as metropolitan Melbourne we were once again welcomed with a wonderful breakfast selection which helped get the day off to a great start. Our focus for this year was family violence and self-care.

CatholicCare’s Mark Tanti , Manager of Family Relationship services from Gippsland was our very up-beat MC and helped keep us energised – the music quiz in the afternoon was an entertaining interlude which is vital when undertaking training on such intense topics as family violence. It was a powerful reminder of the need to achieve balance and make time for humour during our working day.

Unfortunately two of our speakers Scott Mills from No To Violence (NTV) and Nancy Nunez from the Groupwork Institute had to cancel at the last minute due to ill-health. We were extremely fortunate that both organisations sent replacements to whom we were very grateful for conducting the sessions as scheduled at such short notice.

Trent from NTV delivered a very engaging session on working with men and although unfamiliar with the particular challenges of the post separation work certainly provided much “food for thought” and helpful insights. Practitioners are very familiar with the pitfalls of potentially colluding with perpetrators who minimise their use of violence and its impact on others, but for some present the information around how challenging perpetrators straight off (without having first engaged well and developed a positive working relationship) can be equally as problematic, was a new and powerful insight. Often it only serves to entrench current attitudes and does not support or encourage behavioural change. Trent skilfully took us through this material and provided us with current thinking on best practice in the area. He also reminded us of the help-seeking continuum which is so important in terms of the expectations we have around change: If we can provide a positive interaction and an open, no-judgemental stance then even if we do not achieve the outcomes we may hope for, or the client may not appear to be a customer for the work, it is more likely they will re-engage in the work at a future point. We can sow the seeds for change no matter how brief the interaction!

Dr Monica Campo from Women’s Legal Service presented on the challenges facing female survivors of family violence and participated in an interesting discussion around the impact of current TV “infomercials “ featuring peers calling out inappropriate behaviour of men towards others in the workplace or within the family.

The last of our presenters from the Groupwork Institute introduced us to their model around self-care and we were able to undertake an exercise to help identify for ourselves what we need to do in order for us to attend to this very important area. We were presented with the visual of all of our component selves ( worrier , organiser, etc) in a bus and challenged to think about what can happen if one of these selves is driving the bus rather than our “wise mind” which gives equal weight to all of our different attributes. I have continued to challenge myself when I realise I am over-thinking things to acknowledge that anxiety could be “driving the bus”! How different would I feel if I allowed my wise mind to be in control?

Finally a table/speed networking activity which allowed us to share more about our work and its challenges with peers from different agencies was a positive and lively way to conclude a very informative day.

Thanks to all those who participated and particularly those who travelled hundreds of kilometres to be there – we thank you for your participation and hope to see you again next year.

(Thank you to Anne Vranisan - Co-ordinator POP Managers’ Group for writing this recap of the days events)

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