Evaluation report Shining A Light on domestic and family violence

Victorian Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, Ms. Vicki Ward MP and Bishop Greg Bennet of the Diocese of Sale have co-launched the report, Shining A Light: A Collaborative project working to build capacity for a whole-of-Church response to domestic and family violence in Warragul on 17 November 2023.

The report outlines the findings and recommendations that came out of a collaborative pilot program between Catholic Social Services Victoria (CSSV), the peak body representing more than 40 Catholic social and community organisations across the state, the Diocese of Sale, and Sr Nicole Rotaru RSM, a Sister of Mercy, social worker and counsellor who has many years experience working with victims and survivors of domestic and family violence, including children.

Sr Nicole facilitated seven three-hour workshops across the various regions of the Diocese of Sale last year, which saw 127 people (89 women and 38 men) participating in the pilot program. The workshops aimed to equip participants with the skills and knowledge to recognise the signs of domestic and family violence and the impacts on women and children; to be more confident in starting a ‘careful conversation’; and to know some domestic and family violence resources in the local community and beyond. Participants included Church clergy, parish staff, members of Religious congregations, Diocesan safeguarding staff and other organisation volunteers and staff, including those from across local social service agencies, schools, and healthcare.

The report outlines that: The ‘Shining A Light’ pilot program was successful in its mode of organising, garnering good take up and support at multiple levels, and gathered broad ranging support from Church Clergy and leadership as well as sector experts and local organisers.

The program was effective in achieving its goals of increasing awareness of the issues of domestic and family violence, the gravity of the issues and the confidence and capacity of attendees to be involved in response and support within their community context as appropriate.

The report outlines six recommendations that aim to enhance the Catholic community’s role in responding to and preventing domestic and family violence in light of the learnings from this pilot program. Among these, there is an emphasis on the importance of providing ongoing support for the workshop participants, and a need to secure resources for further work. It is recommended that follow-up workshops making clear specifically on what constitutes effective approaches to violence prevention be rolled out across every diocese in Australia with the intent to open space for conversation and build general knowledge about drivers and prevalence of domestic and family violence in Australia.

The recommendations also propose the development of communities of practice and broader organisational training initiatives. Collaborative partnerships with social service organisations and ongoing training for personnel in areas such as health and education will strengthen the overall response to domestic and family violence.

Read the report, here.