Child-focused approaches to complex problems – part two

Runtime 00:30:03
Released 6/2/23
Emerging Minds Podcast
Emerging Minds Podcast
Child-focused approaches to complex problems - part two

For the past five years, Emerging Minds has worked in partnership with Flinders University’s Social Work Innovation Research Living Space (SWIRLS) to develop a range of resources for health and social services workers. This includes a series of practice papers which support child-focused practices where children and families face disadvantage, trauma or adversity.

The SWIRLS practice papers examine the core skills which support practitioners to work positively with children and families who are facing multiple and complex problems. A structural approach considers how disadvantage can make the effects of violence and trauma worse and convince children that they are to blame for their negative experiences.

In this episode (part one here), you will hear from Professor Sarah Wendt, Director of SWIRLS, and her team including Dr Kate Seymour, Kirsty Lowe and Nicola Trenorden. Sarah and the team discuss the effects of trauma and family violence on children and families. They describe how an understanding of power and violence can help engage disadvantaged children and families in ways that allow them to tell their stories and move beyond self-blame and secrecy.



In this episode you will learn:

  • how self-blame and secrecy can operate in the lives of children and take away children’s ability to describe their experiences of trauma or violence [03:05]
  • ways to safely help children tell the stories of their experiences [05:23]
  • how to encourage parents to think about their child’s experiences of trauma and violence and how these experiences might be affecting their behaviour [11:16]
  • how to hold conversations with mothers that explore their agency in keeping children safe, while not blaming them for violence perpetrated by male partners [18:02]
  • some approaches to working with fathers safely and ethically when they are engaging in violence [22:31]


Further information and resources:

Literature review: Insights for social workers supporting families with complex needs (Emerging Minds)

Practice paper: Child-focused practice competencies: Structural approaches to complex problems (Emerging Minds)

Practice paper: Child-focused practice in social work: Beginning the naming journey when family and domestic violence is present (Emerging Minds)

Practice paper: Child-focused work with families affected by domestic violence: Skills, values and knowledge requirements for social work students (Emerging Minds)

Practice paper: Child-focused social work practice in the context of family and domestic violence: Understanding the impact of male violence (Emerging Minds)


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