The importance of education and training
31.3 The importance of education and training in the family violence system has been addressed in two key reports commissioned by the Australian Government: Time for Action by the National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children (National Council), and the Family Violence Courts Review, by Professor Richard Chisholm (the Chisholm Review).
31.4 A key theme of Time for Action was the need for ‘attitudinal change at all levels of government and society’, which involves ‘adequate funding and professional training of the workforce’. The report included a number of strategies relating to education and training in different fields.
31.5 In particular, Time for Action recommended that, in achieving the outcome of ensuring just responses, a key strategy was to ‘ensure judicial officers, law enforcement personnel and other professionals within the legal system have appropriate knowledge and expertise’. It recommended that a national education and professional development framework be developed that recognised the specific roles of those involved in the legal system. This framework should
be designed with these specific audiences in mind; be informed by research on the social context within which violence against women and children takes place; emphasise the diversity of experiences and needs of victim/survivors of violence in the community; and enhance understanding of the intent and operation of relevant legislation.
31.6 Similarly, the Chisholm Review recommended that there should be consideration of the ways in which those working in the family law system ‘might be better educated in relation to issues of family violence’. It was further recommended that family law courts review the use of existing best practice principles in relation to family violence, and consider measures to make those principles more influential.
31.7 Judicial education and training were also identified as key issues by the Victorian Law Reform Commission in its reports on family violence and sexual assault laws, and as key areas in strategic frameworks for addressing family violence, including the Australasian Policing Strategy for the Prevention and Reduction of Family Violence.
31.8 Many stakeholders emphasised the importance of education and training as part of an integrated response, and as a necessary strategy for improving the system as whole. For example, the Sydney Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service submitted that:
An integrated response to domestic and family violence should include education and training programs for all stakeholders, including operational police, prosecutors, lawyers, judicial officers and victim’s services.
31.9 Similarly, the Australian Association of Social Workers highlighted that:
One of the essential aspects of successful coordinated responses is the ability to build into systems consistent and appropriate training. As the ALRC has identified, ensuring training is effective, and measuring the effectiveness of training, is a challenge. It is essential to ensure that education and training is sensitive, specific and relevant to the needs of particular stakeholders, and that training programs are designed with the ultimate aim of improving service responses to victims of domestic and family violence.
Providing and maintaining quality education and training
31.10 While quality education and training are critical, it must be recognised that education and training are subject to limitations—including the receptiveness of the audience and the persistence of social and cultural norms. The Commissions recognise that calls for further education and training are easy to make, but that there are numerous challenges to ensuring that education and training are relevant, useful and have a meaningful impact on behaviour in an ongoing way. In this respect, it is vital to have in place mechanisms for review to ensure that quality and best practice are maintained in education and training programs.
31.11 Ideally, effective education and training programs should properly equip those working in the area of family violence with a thorough understanding of the nature and dynamics of family violence, and the ability to navigate the range of overlapping legal frameworks. The Education Centre Against Violence (ECAV) has identified a number of challenges in ensuring the quality of family violence training. These include: the adequacy of the content of training, the adequacy of the length of training, and the number and qualifications of trainers. An issue affecting quality and consistency is that most training in this area is not subject to accreditation and not otherwise assessed for quality or longer term impacts on practice.
31.12 Another key challenge is ensuring that training is delivered in an appropriate way. Education and training may be provided by way of formal training programs conducted face to face; online programs; or educational resources, such as bench books or DVDs. The mode of delivery must be appropriate, especially for those working in regional and remote communities, and those from cultural and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. Research suggests that adults learn best by applying skills in practice and engaging in critical reflection on their own practice. However, it appears that less appropriate classroom-based learning continues to be prevalent in family violence training.
31.13 Another significant challenge is that of adequate resourcing. Training needs to be resourced adequately and less visible costs of training need to be considered in funding.
31.14 Lastly, adequate access to training is also important, including for those working in remote or regional areas. Access can also be affected by organisational cultures and practices, such as attitudes to releasing staff for training.
 National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, Time for Action: The National Council’s Plan for Australia to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, 2009–2021 (2009).
 R Chisholm, Family Courts Violence Review (2009).
 National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, Time for Action: The National Council’s Plan for Australia to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, 2009–2021 (2009), 21.
 Ibid, Recs 1.3.2, 3.1.1, 3.1.4, 3.1.5, 3.3.8.
 Ibid, Rec 4.4.
 Ibid, Rec 4.4.1.
 Ibid, Rec 4.3.
 As identified in, Family Court of Australia, Best Practice Principles for Use in Parenting Disputes When Family Violence or Abuse is Alleged (2009).
 R Chisholm, Family Courts Violence Review (2009), Recs 4.3, 4.6, 4.8.
 Victorian Law Reform Commission, Review of Family Violence Laws: Report (2006).
 Australasian Policing Strategy on the Prevention and Reduction of Family Violence (2008).
 Confidential, Submission FV 235, 16 July 2010; National Legal Aid, Submission FV 232, 15 July 2010; Family Relationship Services Australia, Submission FV 231, 15 July 2010; Women’s Legal Services Australia, Submission FV 225, 6 July 2010; The Australian Association of Social Workers, Submission FV 224, 2 July 2010; Legal Aid NSW, Submission FV 219, 1 July 2010; WESNET—The Women’s Services Network, Submission FV 217, 30 June 2010; Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse, Submission FV 216, 30 June 2010; Women Everywhere Advocating Violence Elimination, Submission FV 210, 29 June 2010; Law Society of New South Wales, Submission FV 205, 30 June 2010; T McLean, Submission FV 204, 28 June 2010; National Abuse Free Contact Campaign, Submission FV 196, 26 June 2010; Women’s Legal Service Victoria, Submission FV 189, 25 June 2010; Women’s Legal Service Queensland, Submission FV 185, 25 June 2010; Women’s Legal Services NSW, Submission FV 182, 25 June 2010; Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service Co-operative Ltd, Submission FV 179, 25 June 2010; Queensland Law Society, Submission FV 178, 25 June 2010; Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service Victoria, Submission FV 173, 25 June 2010; Canberra Rape Crisis Centre, Submission FV 172, 25 June 2010; D Bryant, Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia and J Pascoe, Chief Federal Magistrate of the Federal Magistrates Court of Australia, Submission FV 168, 25 June 2010; Berry Street Inc, Submission FV 163, 25 June 2010; UnitingCare Children Young People and Families, Submission FV 151, 24 June 2010; Women With Disabilities Australia, Submission FV 143, 24 June 2010; Women’s House Shelta, Submission FV 139, 23 June 2010; Sydney Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service, Submission FV 132, 22 June 2010; C Humphreys, Submission FV 131, 21 June 2010; F Hardy, Submission FV 126, 16 June 2010; Anglicare Australia, Submission FV 115, 10 June 2010.
 Sydney Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service, Submission FV 132, 22 June 2010.
 The Australian Association of Social Workers, Submission FV 224, 2 July 2010.
 The need for education and training in relation to the nature and dynamics of family violence—considered below—forms a key part of the Commissions’ policy approach.
 S Stewart (Education Centre Against Violence), Consultation, By telephone, 18 February 2010.