Aligning The Personal With The Professional

Lived experience as motivation for further education and employment in the field of domestic and family violence


  • Ilsa Evans Chisholm Institute of TAFE


Domestic and family violence, Lived experience, trauma survivors, Barriers to education, Community welfare education


Lived experience has been foundational in the development of Family Violence (FV) response. Over time however, as the sector gradually became more professionalised via formal education and minimum qualification standards, the situation regarding lived experience has been rendered more complex. As reported here, we conducted an exploratory study in Melbourne, Australia into the motivations for those undertaking further education with the aim of entering the FV and related sectors, with a particular focus on lived experience as a driving force. A secondary objective was to investigate the related experiences of graduates with lived experience of FV within industry. While the focus is on the Australian context, both in terms of the study and related policies, it is envisaged that the findings also have international relevance. Results indicate that the majority of those undertaking specialised education in the field of FV have lived experience as victim survivors, and that these students bring valuable skills, knowledge and passion to the sector. However, this also has significant ramifications for educational institutes and for industry. The paper discusses a range of associated impacts, as well as support initiatives, and recommends that both educational and workplace reform is required to better support the educational learning journey and subsequent careers of those practitioners with lived experience of family violence.


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