Ireland’s first and only accredited Domestic Abuse programme is helping to make a real change in how front-line services respond to incidences of abuse in Ireland, according to findings reported at a conference held in Dundalk Institute of Technology last week.
The one-day conference entitled, ‘The Changing Landscape of Domestic Abuse – a Multiagency Perspective’ was organised by the School of Health and Science which first established the 13-week ‘Certificate in the Fundamentals of Understanding and Responding to Domestic Abuse’ in September 2016.
Last week's conference was organised in conjunction with the Department of Justice & Equality, Social Services and Tusla and brought together more than 250 delegates from relevant front-line agencies such as Womens Aid, Domestic Abuse support services, Education, An Garda Síochána, the Health Service Executive and the Probation Service to share insights and knowledge.
Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, TD attended the event and during his closing address, he said: “I warmly commend today’s focus on multi-agency approaches; and the way in which you lived this philosophy in development of the DkIT course addressing domestic violence.
"If we are to be effective in our responses to complex problems, we need collaborative approaches. This is particularly true of domestic violence and abuse. We all play different roles, but we will only succeed in reducing, preventing and addressing domestic violence and abuse with cooperation – between Government, Gardaí, professionals and the NGO sector. And indeed, with the valuable contribution of victims themselves.”
Also speaking, Head of School of Health and Science at DkIT, Dr. Edel Healy said: “Research indicates that domestic abuse is still prevalent in Irish society today and while services and protections around this issue have improved in recent years, it is vital that we continue to learn from experience and use shared insights to improve the complex practice of care for victims of domestic abuse across all related sectors.
"Today’s conference clearly demonstrates the important changes in the area of Domestic Abuse and cements the importance of a multi-agency approach in understanding and responding to this important issue. This is why we established the Certificate programme and three years on, I am delighted to share our knowledge and key learnings with stakeholders here today.
“I would also like to take the opportunity to thank our partners who supported us making this event happen and in particular the Department of Justice and Equality and Tusla”.
Lecturer and Programme Director for the Domestic Abuse Certificate programme at DkIT, Dr Kathleen Nallen added: “This Level 8 programme was designed to have broad inter-sectional relevance because it is widely ecognized that domestic abuse typically falls within an inter-agency domain, with victims frequently accessing services from two or more organisations.
"More than 70 people have successfully completed the programme to date, representing sectors such as social care, policing, midwifery, nursing, domestic abuse services, homeless services and victims organisations. Having graduates from this programme speaking at the conference today provides first hand evidence of how such a programme can translate theory into practice in order to better support victims of Domestic Abuse. We look forward to our next intake on the programme in January”.
Deirdre West, a midwife in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda recently completed the course said the course provided her with vital insights.
“This programme has really changed my perception of Domestic Abuse. It is only after completing the programme that I now understand that there are a multiplicity of complex reasons why a victim stays in an abusive relationship.
“The programme has provided me with many insights which I can now use in my role as a midwife to better support victims of Domestic Abuse.”
Other presentations at the conference included those from Detective Superintendent Gerry Murph who presented the role of An Garda Síochána in implementing the law in the area of Domestic Abuse, and Dr. Bethany Waterhouse Bradley and Dr. Susan Lagdon from the University of Ulster who co-presented findings on the policing response to intimate partner violence in Northern Ireland.
Dr Kevin McKenna, a lecturer in DkIT, delivered a presentation on trauma informed care and Deirdre Fahy, Public Health Nurse, presented the latest evidence on intimate partner violence using the findings from a systematic review.
Dr Anita Byrne and Dr Geraldine O’Connor captured the importance of programme for those working within the area of Domestic Abuse by presenting findings from an evaluation of the Certificate in the Fundamentals of Understanding and Responding to Domestic Abuse programme.