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Police data published in June 2019 found that 133, 022 family harm investigations were conducted in 2018. These are staggering numbers, particularly when you consider that 76% of family violence incidents are not even reported to police according to data published on the Are You OK website.  

Michelle Brown, Team Leader for Social Services at Barnardos says, “our aim is to work ourselves out of a job. The goal is to have families who don’t need social services any more in their lives because we’ve created a beautiful, amazing community that can support them through everything.”  

Barnardos, Aotearoa New Zealand’s national children’s charity works across a range of areas every day towards the vision of ‘An Aotearoa New Zealand where every child shines bright.’  Barnardos’ work related to family violence includes a number of family violence prevention initiatives, support services for children and families who have experienced family violence, and advocating for systemic change to support every child and family to live free of family violence, child abuse and neglect.   

Unfortunately, with the current statistics, New Zealand needs more people working in social services to support children and families affected by violence.   

In 2017, a multi-agency team designed and developed the Family Violence, Sexual Violence and Violence within Whānau (FVSV) Workforce Capability Framework. The Framework sets a vision to providing an integrated, consistent and effective response to victims, perpetrators, their families and whānau. The Framework also identifies the knowledge, skills and behaviours necessary for a safe and competent FVSV workforce in New Zealand.  

Michelle recently completed a training programme that aligns with the FVSV framework, and was developed by industry training organisation, Careerforce. The training programme leads to the achievement of the New Zealand Diploma in Health and Wellbeing (Level 5) (Applied Practice).   

“Barnardos is part of the Canterbury Whanau Safety Services (CWSS) collaboration in Christchurch working alongside the police and other social service agencies and family harm preventative work serviceswho make up the Integrated Safety Response team (ISR)After every family harm callout the families are contacted by an agency from the ISR teams to offer additional follow up and support. 

For some new to this area of Family Violence and working with the ISR team, this training programme will enrich their learning, by helping them reflect on how they apply this approach with their client, whānau and communities they support. For those with more experience, the training programme will recognise their competencies and help them align their practice to the FVSV framework.   

Michelle says it’s important for the workforce supporting people affected by violence to all be working in the same way.  However, offering tailored packages that fit the individual’s needs.   

We wanted to promote growth in all practitioners across the sector so that we can all have the same language and understand the same framework. That’s why we got involved, because we wanted to make sure that we were staying current with new knowledge and tools for workers which grows a competent workforce.  

She found the programme a great development opportunity and encourages other practitioners to complete the training programme. It gives you a comprehensive and clear framework to follow and it sets you up so you are able to reflect on your practice and have a shared understanding that complements each other’s roles.    

Careerforce Assessor, Catriona Baker, shares how she saw Michelle and other staff at Barnardos work with passion, integrity and respect as she carries on their assessments. She says, “we are very lucky to have such an incredible workforce within this social service sector.”  

It’s challenging to be in the social services sector at the moment, with increasing demand for services and a shortage of skilled and qualified staff.   

Michelle says it’s important for agencies to work together. “Social service workers are stretched and are going as fast as they can so it’s just really important to remain positive and to work together with all the other social services in your area.”  

For more information about the FVSV programme, please follow this link.