Family & Relationship Services Australia (FRSA) 2016 national conference

Simon recently attended the Family & Relationship Services Australia (FRSA) 2016 national conference. He presented his workshop ‘Good practice approaches to preventing separated-instigated violence by newly separated men’.

Here’s a summary of his workshop:

Separation and divorce is a highly emotional and conflictual time which can place men, women and children at risk of harm. In recent years there has been a growing body of research on the different typologies of violence, and recognition of the importance of differentiating violence to ensure targeted interventions, services and programs.

Most notably is Michael Johnson’s research that clearly makes the distinction between coercive controlling violence which stems from a systematic abuse of power and control and separated-instigated violence. Separated-instigated violence is reactive, has no prior history and is confined to the period of separation. It is neurobiologically driven and often reflective of the trauma, grief and loss that occurs in the first two years of separation.

This presentation will explore the complexities of male interpersonal relationships and how masculine socialisation, attachment, trauma, mental health and gender differences impact on men who are dealing with separation, divorce and co-parenting. It aims to provide an evidence-based understanding of the importance of engaging and working with men early on in separation to prevent separated-instigated violence from occurring.

Engaging and supporting separated men and fathers during this highly emotive and often highly conflictual time is imperative for the wellbeing of separated men/fathers, their ex- partners, children, families and communities. Family relationship services play a crucial role. In fact, newly separated fathers are the single largest group of men who will seek out these services to help them. However, if they do not receive the help that they feel they need they will quickly disengage from the service and develop their own problem solving strategies which in many cases may lead to increased levels of conflict and harm.

This workshop aims to equip participants with an understanding of the importance of an early intervention and prevention approach when engaging separated men. It will focus on:

  • Examining male interpersonal relationships – insights from masculine psychology/neuroscience to understand why men often react the way they do during separation and divorce.
  • Impact of men’s mental health/masculine depression and how they present to services.
  • Using strength-based approaches when working with separated fathers – what they are and why they are so effective in helping men process their grief and form respectful co-parenting relationships and positive father child relationships.
  • Maximising the effectiveness of referral and support networks for separated fathers.

Saul Edmonds