Training and professional development

Everyone has a responsibility to be informed about sexual, domestic and family violence.

What are my responsibilities?

It’s important to know how to respond to sexual, domestic and family violence in a helpful way. Frontline workers and professionals within the health, community and human services sectors have extra responsibilities. These responsibilities will depend on their qualifications, training and experience in being able to:

  • Respond to disclosure
  • Identify violence
  • Provide support and refer people experiencing violence to further specialist support

Your organisation's responsibilities

Organisations also have a responsibility to make sure all staff are informed about sexual assault and domestic and family violence. Opportunities for training should be made available to all staff. Induction processes for new employees should also cover training in identifying and responding to sexual, domestic and family violence.

What training is right for me?

The following information provides an overview of the level of training about sexual assault and domestic and family violence that workers should access depending on their role and professional background.

Please note that 1800RESPECT does not provide training. Please contact DV-alert for enquiries about training and workshops, or search our Service Directory for organisations in your area that provide training.

Universal training

Training to provide a universal response should give staff a basic understanding of the dynamics of sexual assault and domestic and family violence, its links to mental health, alcohol and drug misuse as well as workers’ legal duties. It should cover the basics of how violence impacts on people’s emotional, social, physical and psychological wellbeing. It should also provide an understanding of diversity, equality and human rights issues as related to sexual, domestic and family violence.

Staff should be trained to respond to a disclosure of sexual, domestic and family violence in a way that maximises people’s safety and minimises further traumatisation. After the completion of training, they should also be able to refer or direct people to access further support.

This level of training is for a range of workers, including for example, administration officers, receptionists, interpreters, non-specialist community workers and volunteers, youth workers, care assistants. It is also appropriate for professionals without specialist sexual assault and DFV skills such as physiotherapists, dentists, or speech pathologists.

Staff should be trained to ask about sexual, domestic and family violence in a way that makes it easier for people to disclose it. This involves an understanding of the causes of sexual, domestic or family violence, how it affects people’s lives and the role of professionals in intervening safely.

Staff should be able to respond with empathy and understanding, assess someone’s immediate safety and offer referral to specialist services. Typically this level of training is for nurses, GPs, accident and emergency doctors, medical specialists, ambulance staff, Children’s Centre staff, children and family professionals, mental health professionals, disability service workers or staff working with substance misuse.

Specialist training

Training to provide a specialist response should equip staff with a more detailed understanding of sexual assault and domestic and family violence and more specialist skills to appropriately intervene.

Staff should be trained to provide an initial response that includes risk identification and assessment, safety planning and continued liaison with specialist counselling and support services. This might include staff working in child protection, social workers and other helping professionals working in health and human services, other health professionals with more specialist skills in sexual assault and domestic and family violence.

Staff should be trained to give expert support to people experiencing violence and abuse. Training at this level is for specialists in sexual assault and domestic and family violence, for example, staff working in a specialist sexual assault or domestic and family violence service, refuges, sexual assault counsellors, independent sexual assault or domestic and family violence professional staff such as social workers, psychologists or counsellors.

(Adapted from NICE Guidelines: Domestic Violence and Abuse: Multi-Agency Working, ph50, February 2014, Recommendation 15)

Contact DV-alert

DV-alert (Domestic Violence Response Training) is a free training program that enables workers to recognise, respond and refer to domestic violence. Training and workshops are available Australia-wide to approved participants.

DV-alert is a partner of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.