Launch of unique child protection course

Child protection workers in South Australia now have access to a unique course to build on their expertise when working directly with families experiencing domestic and family violence (DFV) and focusing on improved outcomes for children and young people.

DFV is the most prevalent risk factor in families reported to the Department for Child Protection (DCP) and significantly impacts on children’s safety and wellbeing.

DCP has partnered with Flinders University’s Social Work Innovation Research Living Space (SWIRLS) to co-design the Responding to DFV in the context of child protection: Advanced understanding and leadership course.

More than 100 DCP staff, including practice leaders, Principal Aboriginal Consultants, supervisors and senior practitioners, are participating in the first intake of the course, which includes a combination of six online modules and three face-to-face master classes.

The course covers topics such as enhancing specialised skills in responding to children, young people and families experiencing DFV, developing a shared language and understanding to inform work with children, young people and families with complex needs and refining leadership skills in responding to domestic and family violence.

Dr Carmela Bastian, Professor Sarah Wendt, The Hon Katrine Hildyard MP and Cathy Taylor

Katrine Hildyard MP, Minister for Child Protection and Minister for Women and the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence said “the safety and wellbeing of children, young people and women is a critical priority; relentless, ongoing effort to tackle the horrific scourge of domestic violence is needed if we are to begin to prevent and end it.”

“Domestic and family violence is a factor in at least 70% of child protection cases; a figure that speaks to its deep and unacceptable impact on children. Tackling domestic and family violence requires aligned effort and for everyone to feel confident to recognize the signs and to feel confident to act, support and empower those experiencing it, including children. This course will build on the expertise of child protection workers as they navigate the complexities of domestic and family violence within families to ensure children and young people are safe, nurtured and well-cared for and to ensure we take steps toward breaking the cycle.”

Chief Executive of the Department of Child Protection Cathy Taylor said children and young people experiencing domestic and family violence, directly or otherwise, are impacted in a range of ways including their development, social and emotional wellbeing, and possible cumulative harm.

“Children don’t necessarily need to see or hear direct physical violence to be impacted by domestic and family violence, there are so many complexities and nuances for each family. Coercive control may impact how a household functions and how the victim parent functions. This can lead to children and young people feeling fear and tension, isolated or not having their basic needs met due to the perpetrator’s financial control.

“The course development was about making sure our staff have the most current evidence-based practice, knowledge and skills to work with families, to understand the complexities of DFV and above all to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.”

SWIRLS Director Professor Sarah Wendt, Matthew Flinders Fellow and Professor in Social Work in the College of Education, Psychology and Social Work says the course is backed by the research and experience of SWIRLS leading experts, who between them have over 30 years’ experience in social work practice and management.

“One of our guiding principles at SWIRLS is that social work research should be undertaken in the community, in real time, with real people and real lives.

“This is further enhanced through innovation and collaboration, and thanks to this partnership with the Department for Child Protection, we are able to play a part in improving outcomes for children and families who experience domestic and family violence.”

Dr Carmela Bastian, Project Lead and SWIRLS academic, says the course has been uniquely co-designed by SWIRLS and the Department for Child Protection, specifically for the Department.

“The course will ensure that participants are well versed in the many intricacies and dynamics of domestic family violence in the context of child protection in order to be best placed to provide appropriate care and support.”

It is envisaged the course will be opened to other participants from 2023. Further information is available at:

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College of Education, Psychology and Social Work Social Work Innovation Research Living Space