Our Stronger Together report presents findings from research into the lived experience of mothers seeking the return of their children to their care within the Victorian Child Protection system.
This study draws on interviews with thirty mothers seeking reunification with their children and the community legal centre practitioners who assist and represent them. All of the mothers in this study had experienced domestic and family violence.
The research provides policy makers and practitioners with key insights into the systemic barriers to family reunification and supports needed to safely reunify mothers and children experiencing family violence.
Prioritising child safety and wellbeing together with family functioning requires immediate reorientation of the service system to:
The experiences of women in this study shows that protective responses to children and families at risk remain highly gendered, with mothers held responsible for child safety and wellbeing, while abusive fathers remain largely invisible.
Saadiya, a victim-survivor of family violence, was unable to access crisis support despite proactively seeking assistance through the child protection system. If she had been able to access the help she needed, further child protection intervention may not have been necessary. Read more about Saadiya’s story here.
We acknowledge and thank the women who shared their experiences with us.
The research was carried out by Women’s Legal Service Victoria in partnership with Dr Naomi Pfitzner and Associate Professor Silke Meyer from the Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre.
Our project advisory committee included representatives from:
Victoria Legal Aid
Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre
Safe and Equal
Windermere Child and Family Services
Drummond Street Services
Australian Childhood Foundation
Women with Disabilities Victoria
The research was funded by a Knowledge Grant from the Victoria Law Foundation.