Karen Broadley is a Senior Research Officer at AIFS, in the Child Family Community Australia (CFCA) information exchange team. Karen has more than 20 years’ experience working in the fields of youth work, child and family welfare, and statutory child protection services. She has authored and co-authored a number of journal articles and book chapters on child protection. Her particular area of interest is in good professional judgment in child protection.
Violence towards workers in the child, family and community welfare sector (Oral Paper Presentation)
Violence towards workers is an issue faced by workers in the child, family and community welfare sector. CFCA conducted a systematic review of research on the prevalence and nature of client violence towards workers in the sector to identify the magnitude of the problem. Drawing on evidence from peer reviewed and grey literature, this presentation details the impacts that violence has on workers, their practice and the safety of children. Key findings include:
• Actual violence, threats of violence, verbal abuse and intimidation of child, family and community welfare sector workers is a frequent occurrence.
• Violence impairs the psychological wellbeing of workers, the potential repercussions of which include diminished role effectiveness and burnout on the part of the victim and high staff turnover. In statutory child protection contexts, such effects increase the risk that children will not receive the amount of ongoing attention or monitoring required to ensure that their safety is protected.
• Research studies suggest that the prevalence of violence towards workers is greater than official statistics suggest. Reasons for this include violence towards workers being viewed as ‘part of the job’, workers not having enough time to complete the necessary paperwork, workers being expected to look after themselves and be resilient, and some forms of violence (e.g., verbal abuse, intimidation and harassment) being difficult to quantify.
The presentation provides recommendations for improved responses to violence against workers, including practical responses that can be implemented at organisational and policy levels.