Denise O’Dowd has over 20 years’ experience in the Family Violence and Homelessness field. Denise commenced work in a residential unit for teenage girls in Ireland before moving to Australia in 1998, where she worked in the homelessness, family violence and disability sectors. Denise worked at the Department of Health and Human Services portfolios of housing and family violence before commencing work at Berry Street. Denise manages the Family Violence and Housing team within Berry Street.
Positive Shift (+SHIFT): An innovative program for women who use force (Interactive Workshop)
Family violence is an endemic and pernicious issue confronting our communities. Although it is widely recognised that men are responsible for most family violence perpetration, less understood is women’s use of force against their intimate partners and how this affects their children. Particularly challenging is how to address the issue.
This interactive workshop provides an understanding of women’s use of force and its complexities, more specifically its impacts on children. Considerable attention is paid to Baptcare and Berry Street’s collaborative work in the +SHIFT program about women’s use of force. Special attention is paid to women’s use of force and its impacts on children and family functioning. +SHIFT endeavours to address women’s continuum of behaviours from a young age and into adulthood and to further support women who have used force in their intimate relationships. +SHIFT recognises that women often feel shame about how their behaviour has hurt their children.
The program supports women to reflect on how violence has impacted their parenting strategies, the wellbeing of their children and how family violence has impacted their children’s lives. Early data from +SHIFT indicates participants recognise their use of force has impacted their parenting whereby Child Protection involvement has been prevalent, mother/ child relationships have been fractured and their use of force has impacted family functioning.