The ACT Government commitment
Several major ACT reviews into responses to domestic and family violence recommended training for all frontline workers. Common training was identified as a way to develop a shared understanding of domestic and family violence, and to provide more consistent and relevant delivery of services. In response, the ACT Government committed to developing a skilled and educated workforce equipped to recognise and respond to the needs of people experiencing domestic and family violence.
The training aims to build a safer community by developing skills and capability across the entire ACT public service workforce, with a specific focus on staff in frontline roles. Staff will be trained in how to recognise when someone is experiencing domestic or family violence, and how to respond appropriately, safely and effectively including responding to direct disclosures from clients, colleagues and staff. No one is expected to take the place of professional support as a result of this training, but we should all know how to respond and direct our clients and colleagues to professional support if needed.
Those living with this violence often use everyday mainstream services to seek help and with the right skills and knowledge, these services can recognise the signs that someone is living with domestic or family violence. Increased awareness and understanding of domestic and family violence will help people identify early signs and risks, providing opportunities for earlier support to people at risk of domestic and family violence.
Building Capability in Frontline Services
We know people are most likely to disclose to trusted people including frontline professionals in health and education services. The Training
Strategy focuses on raising the capability of the whole ACT Public Service with a specific focus on training for staff who are in the
frontline in roles that require higher levels of capabilities in responding to domestic and family violence. With a skilled frontline workforce, people will receive services earlier, reducing the impact on their health, wellbeing and capacity to contribute to the community and economy.
In developing the training strategy, it became clear to create a safe environment for the training of frontline workers, we needed to build an awareness and understanding of domestic and family violence for the whole ACT Public Service, including lifting the capability of managers to support staff affected. This whole-of-government approach to training recognises the important role of workplaces in preventing and responding early and effectively to domestic and family violence across the ACT community.
Staff safety and wellbeing
Domestic and family violence is a challenging and complex topic. Some of us may be uncomfortable or distressed about the training content. For some, the information in the training will be new. For others, it might raise issues that are close to home. In some cases, it may also challenge personal beliefs, attitudes and values. It’s acknowledged that some people may be distressed by the content, or that it may bring up difficult or traumatic personal experiences for them. The purpose of this training is to make people safer, and we are doing our best to support that outcome.
We are taking all possible measures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all staff participants. These measures include
- training managers first to equip then with the skills and knowledgeable to respond to staff disclosures in the workplace
- supporting staff through the training
- providing options for those with personal experience of violence or related traumas to be exempt from the training
Training to match your role
We are delivering the training in three tiers; staff will complete the tier of training that best aligns with their everyday role at work. The three tiers are:
- Foundation Training
- Tier 1 Training
- Tier 2 Training
This is in addition to intensive specialist training already delivered to Child and Youth Protective Services case workers and ACT Policing sworn officers. For staff working at Canberra Health Services the evidence-based Strengthening Health Responses to Family Violence model is being implemented to strengthen organisational capability to respond to domestic and family violence.
Foundation Training e-Learn (staff)
Foundation Training (staff) is for all ACT Public Servants. This training is delivered online, or face-to-face where needed. It takes around 1.5 hours to complete. There are four Foundation Training (staff) modules, which focus on:
- recognising domestic and family violence
- recognising the impacts and the barriers for people seeking help
- responding and referring people who are impacted by domestic and family violence
- understanding the ACT Government Domestic and Family Violence Policy and Procedures
Foundation Training (managers)
The Foundation Training (managers) is for all ACT Public Servants who are managers. This additional training for managers is delivered face-to-face in a three and half-hour session, or online if needed. The Foundation Training (managers) focuses on:
- understanding a workplace’s role in preventing violence
- responding to staff experiencing violence including responding to disclosures—the training may lead to increased disclosures, so it is important managers know how to support staff and develop their skills to have sensitive, appropriate and supportive conversations
- understanding how to apply the ACT Public Service supports outlined in the ACT Domestic and Family Violence Toolkit
- directing staff who use violence to specialist service providers and behaviour change programs
- providing leadership for gender equity and violence prevention
- promoting a safe, respectful workplace culture, so people feel safe to disclose if they have or are experiencing domestic and family violence
Tier 1 Training
Tier 1 Training further builds up the capability of staff working directly with the public, and those regularly working with clients affected by domestic and family violence. These staff may have ongoing relationships with people or families, and their role may include supporting wellbeing. Tier 1 Training is delivered face-to-face in a one-day session and focuses on building capability in:
- sensitive conversations
- screening questions
- information sharing
- more detailed understanding of the dynamics and impacts of domestic and family violence
Tier 2 Training
Tier 2 Training is for staff whose work already involves supporting clients with complex needs, which often includes domestic and family violence. These frontline professionals often provide specialist support to staff in Tier 1 roles and work with other government services and specialist community services. Tier 2 Training is delivered face-to-face over three days and focuses on building increasing capability in:
- safety planning
- risk assessment, particularly building a shared and consistent approach to assessing and managing risk
- providing an integrated and joined up service responses
The role of directorates in delivery
Each directorate is responsible for the delivery of the training according to their operational requirements. Directorates will contact staff and provide information on the training and when it will be available.
Keeping yourself safe
Domestic and family violence is a challenging and complex topic. While the training is a core learning for ACTPS employees, we recognise that some staff, particularly those with a personal experience of violence or related trauma, may wish to be exempted from the training.
In these circumstances staff are encouraged to speak with a manager, supervisor, or trusted senior staff member, human resources officer and RED Contact Officer about their options and supports. This may include opting out of the training or receiving the information in a different way.
As with any training, staff are encouraged to access supports if needed. Services and supports available include:
The ACTPS Domestic and Family Violence Toolkit [link to toolkit] provides a range of guidance materials for employees and managers to support employees who are experiencing domestic and family Violence.
How to provide feedback on the training
If you would like to provide feedback, you can do this by emailing the Safer Families team, completing the online survey located at the end of the Foundation e-Learn (staff) or talking with your directorate training coordinator who will contact us on your behalf. All these options allow for you to provide anonymous feedback if preferred. Contact the Safer Families team on firstname.lastname@example.org