14th April 2015
I received a great email from the Resolutions Consultancy this week. It called for nothing less than a revolution in child protection in Australia, ahead of the upcoming Signs of Safety conference.
The point that resonated so strongly for me was the clear distinction that they made between the value of a particular model (Signs of Safety), and the context in which it operates:
Signs of Safety is the most comprehensive practice approach currently available to the child protection field. Signs of Safety has been refined by thousands of practitioners across 17 countries since 1988.
While the Signs of Safety is completely grounded in what works in practice, the model alone will not change how child protection work gets done. Practice decisions are always shaped by myriad factors including organisational anxiety, leadership, workload levels, workforce experience and stability, cultural confidence, political vulnerability, information recording systems and compliance – not to mention the actions of courts, police, mental health services, non-government collaborators, politicians and many more.
To transform practice requires a sophisticated, whole of system approach to implementing the Signs of Safety. That’s the revolution.
Here in the UK, we share that revolutionary spirit. We want to see a revolution in the way that we respond to domestic abuse - one that builds on the advances of the past 10 years.
We are rightly proud that all over the UK, victims and their children now get support from a dedicated professional Idva, who co-ordinates a range of other agencies at a Marac meeting.
But it’s also right that there is some healthy challenge about the Idva-Marac model.
Just as with Signs of Safety, we have to be honest that a good model on its own will not change the whole response to domestic abuse - especially where it is not being implemented faithfully. For example, we are concerned to hear about Idva contracts being awarded where the practitioners are not required to be trained by us, or to follow the national definition of the Idva role.
And just as the extract above highlights, we have to live with (and try to address) the operating environment in which we operate. In the multi-agency approach we advocate, issues such as workforce stability, workload, leadership and confidence are key.
Throughout it helps if we are clear about what the Idva-Marac model actually is. It’s not short-term, and it’s not criminal justice focused. It’s about achieving long-term safety built on a trusting relationship with an Idva who in turn coordinates the resources of partner agencies to manage and reduce risk and meet needs.
We’ve spent the last ten years advocating for the Idva-Marac model – and we will continue to push for every multi-agency partner to get better at helping high-risk victims become safe, and for enough trained and well-supported Idvas so that every high-risk victim gets the right help.
But a revolution in domestic abuse response needs more than the Idva-Marac model. There are other significant gaps to be filled – and we’ve set out how we’re going to approach them in our new vision and strategy.
We are excited about our new vision. It builds on the Idva-Marac model and sets out a practical approach to system change. We would love to know your thoughts.
It will be a great revolution if we achieve it.