‘They Don’t Help, They Hinder’

Intersections between Domestic and Family Violence Specialist Practitioners and External Agencies


  • Sharon Turner The University of Queensland
  • Deborah-Anne Walsh The University of Queensland


Domestic and family violence, Domestic violence, External agencies, Practitioners


This paper reports on a small, qualitative study conducted as part of a Social Work Honours Program that explored the intersections between a domestic violence specialist service and the external agencies they frequently engage with on behalf of their service users. The aim was to ascertain if there was any impact on practice and wellbeing. Much of the current research focus has been on the impact on workers of being exposed to trauma. There was no research found exploring the intersections between specialist agencies and the broader welfare and legal systems.

Six respondents from a specialist agency participated in semi-structured interviews which found that, in the main, the intersection between the external agencies and these workers was difficult, producing unnecessary stress and additional workload. This was perceived as a result of poor attitudes, lack of knowledge, and definitional clashes that, at times, replicated behaviours of the male perpetrators of domestic and family violence.

Findings indicated that staff chose this sector due to their commitment to the issues of violence against women and children. However, all six practitioners reported they did not receive adequate education or skills training in their degree. All agreed this is a failing of the education system.

Author Biographies

Sharon Turner, The University of Queensland

School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4072

Deborah-Anne Walsh, The University of Queensland

School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4072


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