Client safety framework training now available online

Client safety framework training now available online

Monday, 12 July 2021

We are pleased to launch an updated and online version of our professional development training designed to promote the safety of clients and their families.

Our Client Safety Framework training was first launched in 2017 to help lawyers and other client-facing staff identify and respond to family violence and suicide risk factors.

We have now converted the training into e-learning modules to ensure it is easy to access and complete for as many people as possible.

‘We have worked with lived experience experts and our colleagues from Safe Steps and No to Violence to ensure the content in the e-learning modules is accurate and up to date.’ said Victoria Legal Aid Associate Director, Family Violence Response, Leanne Sinclair.

Leanne Sinclair, Associate Director, Family Violence Response, Victoria Legal Aid.

‘These e-learning modules are an important way to improve the quality and responsiveness of family violence services we fund, and to promote the safety of people seeking help for family violence.’

Including the client’s perspectives

The updated modules include contributions from people who have a lived experience of family violence and seeking help from legal services.

‘Being aware of the emotions and the everyday reality of our experiences is just as important as the practical facts around family violence,’ said Lizzy Page, a lived experience consultant to the project.

‘I believe the best support comes from people who understand what’s going on below the surface.’

Lizzy Page, lived experience consultant.

Vicky Vacondios also contributed to the updated training modules.

‘Unless you've actually experienced something you are not going to fully understand it and be ‘in the know’ the way you would be if you had experienced it,’ said Vicky.

‘I really hope this training will mean lawyers and other staff get a flash of insight of what it’s like for someone who has experienced family violence and that it will make them more empathetic and understanding.’

Vicky Vacondios, lived experience consultant.

“It’s my hope that this training will leave help seekers feeling heard and respected by those providing legal support, feeling like the person you’re speaking to “gets it” can make all the difference,’ said Lizzy.

Jasmine’s story

'I worked in the legal field and in the family violence sector before I became a survivor of family violence. I never thought that I would be a survivor of family violence and no amount of theory prepared me for it. I thought I knew the signs, what red flags to look for, I thought I had some idea of the processes I would go through.

However, the lived experience of going through those processes was far more complex and challenging than any theory I had been taught and the red flags I thought I would spot going into a relationship did not present in the way I thought they would.

I knew what I thought was meant to happen and then I knew what actually happened as I lived it. Family Violence wasn't a sudden showing of signs in my experience, it was a gradual slope into control and fear.

Including lived experience (in training materials) means that people who have been through the impacts of family violence and the process can share the impacts for future people working in the sector of what it's like. In other industries, services are reviewed by users, lived experience perspectives mean that training is informed by the people who have experienced the impact, the flaws with the system, the stop points and what it's really like to live through family violence on the ground.

Working with our partners

We worked with Safe Steps and No to Violence to develop the initial Client Safety Framework training, and we were pleased to consult them again for the updated modules.

‘We were keen to be involved to ensure the content reflected current family violence evidence while incorporating the practice wisdom gained through daily conversations with victim-survivors of family violence in a moment of crisis,’ said Jenny Richardson, Safe Steps Director of Client Services.

‘Legal assistance is often accessed when family violence has escalated, and it is important legal and non-legal staff alike have a solid foundation on how to recognise and respond to family violence issues, understand the potential impact of legal issues on risk, and their role when these situations present.

‘Knowing what to listen for, how to respond and appropriate referral pathways in the context of the provision of legal services can build confidence and minimise the risk of further escalation of family violence or suicide. A framework to guide this practice is a win-win for clients and lawyers alike.’ 

Jenny Richardson, Safe Steps Director of Client Services.

Tori Cooke Head of Workforce Development at No to Violence agreed that training is critical for legal professionals.

‘We know from our work that there are particular ways of understanding the unique implications of coercive control, along with other abusive and violent behaviours,’ said Tori.

‘No to Violence has considerable experience working directly with men using violence. The team has been able to draw upon the knowledge of 30 years of expertise to provide feedback, information and advice, on how these learning modules would best inform the legal sector of how to work with men using family violence.'

Tori Cooke, Head of Workforce Development, No to Violence.

‘We hope that by providing our insights and experience toward these behaviours that we can assist the legal sector, and the broader community, in identifying, interrupting and responding to men’s use of domestic and family violence, and ultimately improve the safety and wellbeing of women and children,’ said Tori.

More information

The modules attract four continuing professional development (CPD) points covering Practice Management & Business Skills, Professional Skills and Ethics & Professional Responsibilities.

We are pleased to extend access to this important training to lawyers, other client facing staff at community legal centres and private practitioners.  

If you are interested in this training, please email Family Violence Program Manager, Sharika Jeyakumar at sharika.jeyakumar@vla.vic.gov.au for access.

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