Path of Hope – Framework

Key elements of the framework are outlined below.

1. Circle of Concern and Circle of Influence

Path of Hope endeavours to hold a whole of society understanding of Family & Domestic Violence (FDV) and its relationship to societal values, political processes and legislative frameworks, and its intersection with international and trans-national issues such as women being trafficked into marriages for purposes of domestic servitude.

However, while thinking globally, Rotary Clubs, with their deep understanding of their own communities’ needs, can make a difference by collaborating with local service providers and influencing decision makers on matters of focus and policy.

2. A Focus on Vulnerable Women and Children

Path of Hope is firmly committed to challenging all forms of FDV but the reality is that women are most likely to experience violence inflicted by a male partner and find it hard to leave because it happens within a family context[1][2].  The male violence experienced by women is likely to be chronic, increase in intensity over time, escalate at critical life transition points such as pregnancy, have significant physical and emotional impact, and be associated with economic and social dominance.  The model acknowledges that it happens in all types of families regardless of social or economic status but women who are socially isolated with less access to resources, and with dependent children, are most vulnerable.

3. Guiding Concepts

Family and domestic violence:  Family and domestic violence is the intentional and systematic use of violence and abuse to control, coerce or create fear. The most common and pervasive instances occur in intimate (current or former) partner relationships and can include physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological and emotional abuse and coercive control[3].

Respect for Survivors: Women leaving FDV make decisions that are in the best interests of themselves and their children and these decisions are influenced by the perception of risk, the support and respect they receive from those who they turn too, and their access to resources. 

Prevention & early intervention:  The vulnerability of women to violence in relationships occurs because of basic individual and societal attitudes.  The prevention of FDV commences with challenging individual attitudes and behaviours that support it and, when it is identified, early intervention to reflect that violence in any form is not acceptable. 

Safety:  Leaving a violent relationship can be very dangerous for a woman and her children.  When the time comes, those escaping the violence need safe places and comprehensive and accessible services. 

Accountability:  Violence within relationships should be treated in the same way as violence in the community and perpetrators should be held accountable for their behaviour through social sanction or the criminal justice system.  However, given the complex nature of human relationships and with an understanding of how such abusive behaviour develops, perpetrators should have access to support and learning opportunities to cease using violence.

4. Principles:

  1. All individuals have the right to be free from violence and the threat of violence

  2. All forms of FDV are unacceptable

  3. Cultural justifications for FDV are not acceptable

  4. The safety and wellbeing of those subjected to FDV must be the priority of any response

  5. Adult focused services need to be mindful of the vulnerability of children and their need to be protected from harm

  6. Services and responses provided to survivors of FDV should be trauma informed

  7. Those who perpetrate FDV must be held accountable for their behaviour

  8. Best outcomes are achieved when service providers and other organisations work in partnership as no one organisation can respond to all the needs of a person impacted by FDV.

  9. Services and responses need to be culturally relevant, acceptable and accessible to consumers.

5. Building Capacity of Existing Services

Path of Hope respects the commitment and dedication of the agencies and individuals who provide safety, support and resources to women and their children escaping FDV.  Path of Hope seeks to partner with these champions to support and extend their services.

The nature of the support that can be provided by a Rotary Club will be informed by the local context.  To fully understand the context, respectful relationships need to be built with service providers, priority needs identified, and roles negotiated.

6. Mobilising Specialists to Provide Survivor Centred Programs

Service providers understand the gap between what they do and what the women and children need.  Rotary Clubs have the ethical framework, organisational capacity and professional networks to respectfully work with partnered service providers to gain a deeper understanding of the issues and what needs to be done to close the service gaps.

Survivors often have limited capacity and confidence to negotiate the many issues that need to be addressed following separation from their violent partner.  This can often feel overwhelming and it can sometimes feel easier to return to their partner.  An idealised service model is that of the “one stop shop” where the survivors’ needs for safety, counselling, financial advice, legal advice, health advice and access to housing can be addressed holistically in one place.

In pursuit of this ideal model, Rotarians in Western Australia, through Path of Hope, influenced law firms and medical practitioners to work at the partnered Salvation Army Centre to provide pro bono services to the women and children.  Similarly, appropriately trained university psychology and human services students, supported by accredited professional supervisors, provide counselling and support services as they gain practical experience in their chosen profession and fulfil the requirements of their courses.  The additional value in engaging young professionals is their development as individuals through volunteering and learning about the circumstances of others.

 

7. System Advocacy

All systems and service responses can be improved in the face of new demands and new information.  Rotarians with their partners in Path of Hope can seek to inform and influence decision makers and the general public.

  • Government Policy

  • Community Awareness


[1] https://www.anrows.org.au/publications/fast-facts-0

[2] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2018. Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia 2018. Cat. no. FDV 2. Canberra: Summary ix

[3] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2018. Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia 2018. Cat. no. FDV 2. Canberra: AIHW. Page 3