A “ground-breaking” and “inspiring” conference on adolescent violence in the home

I’m really pleased to have received the following report from Jo Howard on the recent conference held in Melbourne, Australia in February.

The Adolescent Violence in the Home Conference: Supporting Collaboration Across the Justice and Community Sectors, focused on strengthening collaboration between the justice and community sectors to provide enhanced support to parents and family members who experience it and the adolescents who use violence in the home.  The conference, delivered by Peninsula Health, with the support of Department of Health and Legal Services Board Victoria, attracted 260 delegates from a variety of sectors including government, police, legal, justice, education, alcohol and drug, family violence, family, youth and health services with representation from almost all Australian states and overseas.

A range of stimulating and thought provoking presentations highlighted research, policy and practice perspectives.   Most presenters highlighted community lack of knowledge about the issue and how best to address it and a significant gap in an integrated service system response, despite evidence and anecdotal feedback adolescent violence in the home is increasing and of growing concern to service providers.  The Conference highlighted the importance of a specific response to adolescents who perpetrate violence in the home, the value of engaging adolescents and parents, the relationship to adult family violence, the role of the justice system in responding and considerations for services working with families experiencing this issue.

Jo Howard, Manager, Drug and Alcohol & Youth Services, Peninsulas Health provided a context to the two days by articulating global research findings and family patterns around the use of violence.

Key note speaker, Lily Anderson, King County Superior Court, Seattle, Washington, brought an international perspective on how their youth judicial system worked collaboratively with community services to support the Step-Up program, a coordinated community response to youth violence in the home.  notts confVictorian Assistant Police Commissioner Stephen Fontana highlighted the relationship between adult family violence and adolescent violence in the home – where police call outs are high for adult family violence they are also high for call outs related to adolescent violence in the home.

Magistrate Anne Goldsborough articulated the court’s response and explored how the court could play a more active role in encouraging adolescents to engage in intervention programs.  She also commented on the use of Intervention Orders as a mechanism to support family safety.

Other speakers included Danny Blay, No To Violence, Professor Kathleen Daly, Griffith University; Professor Cathy Humphreys, University of Melbourne and Robyn Miller, Principal Practitioner, Department of Human Services.

Day two focused on workshops which covered themes such as responding to complex needs, engaging adolescents, parent work, working with young men and violence, trauma and supporting parents and adolescents through the legal process.

Conference evaluations demonstrated the significant benefit gained by participants from the Conference, with many referring to it as ‘ground-breaking’, ‘stimulating’, ‘inspiring’ and ‘thought-provoking’.   Many delegates reported the Conference provided the impetus to return to their communities and develop programs to respond to the issue.

Peninsula Health has been funded by the Victorian government to deliver a three year pilot program which works with parents and adolescents.  The program, Keeping Families Safe, will provide a therapeutic/intensive case management response as well as a group work program informed by the Step Up approach.

Reports from conferences, projects or reports are always most welcome, especially when they include pictures! Looking forward to receiving similar from other folks.

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