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AASW Webinar Recording | Widening the focus: Engaging fathers who use domestic violence

Event Details
Date: Ongoing
Venue: Online
CPD hrs: 1.5 hours
CPD Category: 2 - Skills and Knowledge

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Organiser: AASW


(03) 9320 1000


Violence against women and their children is one of Australia's most common human rights violations. One woman is murdered each week and one child a fortnight dies in the context of domestic and family violence. 1.6 million women in Australia have experienced physical or sexualized violence from a current or ex-partner since the age of 15 years.

The Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence concluded that society needs to shift attention towards perpetrators and away from approaches that have solely focused on victims. The National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children provides a unique policy framework to address this critical issue; but a missing element in achieving this outcome, is a sufficiently skilled workforce able to engage men who have, or are at risk of, perpetrating violence and coercive control.

Fatherhood can be a crucial point of engagement with services for all men, and particularly those at risk of harming their partners and/or children. DFV informed health and welfare professionals play a key role in preventing and addressing DFV. They are uniquely placed to identify men at risk of perpetrating DFV and to facilitate the delivery of early intervention strategies that promote survivor safety and perpetrator accountability. Thus, engagement with men stands as critically important to both improve child and family functioning overall and to intervene early to prevent DFV. Early engagement may also identify other issues that pose risks to women and children, such as paternal mental health issues, problematic substance misuse, challenges adjusting to fatherhood and/or socioeconomic stressors.

The invisibility of men in most health and welfare services can result in professionals holding few expectations of fathers but unrealistic expectations of mothers. In the course of our work with families, we may discover opportunities to increase the visibility of men and fathers.

This recording addresses the pressing issue that most health and welfare professionals receive limited tertiary education around engaging men, and practically no training around engaging those perpetrating domestic and family violence.

It draws from contemporary national and international research and practice experience in engaging with men who use violence and coercive control. The facilitator offers key strategies that social workers can use to engage with and increase the visibility of men who use violence and control. This approach may also enable men who use violence and coercive control to embark on a journey of change towards engaging respectfully and non-abusively.

"The training was a good balance of theory, research and actionable material" – webinar participant, February 2022.

"This was simply a brilliant presentation!" – webinar participant, February 2022.

Who should attend? Professionals working in settings that provide services to individuals and families experiencing and/or perpetrating DFV.

1.5 hours of CPD activity: Category 2, skills and knowledge
AASW Credential: Family violence; Child Protection

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this recording, participants will be able to:

  • Define and explore perceptions of engagement with men
  • Understand how gendered service responses can compound trauma and further isolate women and children
  • Identify the benefits and barriers of engaging domestically violent men and fathers
  • Consider the necessary preconditions for shifting professional practice towards increased engagement with men who use DFV
  • Identify and share innovative practices aimed at increasing engagement


Dr Sue Heward-Belle

Dr Sue Heward-Belle is an Associate Professor in Social Work and Social Policy at the University of Sydney and is a recognised leader in domestic and family violence research. Sue has almost 30 years' experience in the domestic violence and child protection fields and has conducted many studies in these areas. She has collaborated on numerous projects around building engagement with domestically violent men including The PATRICIA Project, the Invisible Practices: Engaging men who use violence, the STACY Project (Safe and Together Addressing Complexity) and others. Her PhD research examined the fathering experiences and practices of domestically violent men. She has a particular interest in advancing gender equitable and socially just approaches to practice that counter mother blaming.

Method of delivery   

Once you have registered for this recording, all online content is available to view at your convenience via the AASW online on-demand training platform.

Please ensure that your email address is accurate and updated when you register.

Subtitles are available.


The webinar recording duration is 1.5 hours.


This recording can be claimed for CPD purposes, consistent with the CPD Goals and Hours Requirements.

Find out more today about opportunities to have your specialised social work skills recognised.


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AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers