Victims/survivors of domestic abuse - multi-agency risk assessment and interventions: report

A report relating to the development of Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (Maracs) covering views, themes and recommendations identified at a series of stakeholder deep dive sessions in 2021.

8. Training and Workforce Development

35. Attendees were asked to consider:

  • Areas of good practice to learn from in terms of building domestic abuse-competent workforces;
  • The support needed nationally and locally to support good practice and facilitate access to appropriate training and wider workforce development;
  • The training in place to promote a shared understanding of the role and function of Maracs and how to improve on this and increase awareness; and
  • The training in place to promote a shared understanding of risk assessment tools and processes and how to improve on this.

36. Key messages from the deep dive included:

  • Developing a national framework to support a consistent approach to training on risk assessment and other key elements when identifying and responding to domestic abuse would be beneficial, along with a quality assurance framework to support it;
  • Training is needed to support consistency across local authorities for Maracs, and this should include all participants, representatives and chairs.

Key Discussion Points

37. When asked to consider current good practice and the support needed to facilitate and ensure access to appropriate training attendees noted:

  • Training is most successful where an infrastructure is put in place within and across organisations to support the learning to be implemented;
  • Finance and resourcing for training is a big issue – organisations cannot deliver on training, or free up staff time to attend training, without adequate resources in place locally. Similarly, we need to ensure buy-in from senior managers. If they do not understand why domestic abuse training is important, they may be unwilling to free up staff time to do this training;
  • Training cannot be a one-off activity but should be considered as continual professional development. A rolling programme is required that is linked to policy and practice and the need for learning to be refreshed;
  • The pandemic has had a huge impact on methods of delivering training. It has encouraged organisations to think about who their priority groups are for training and use e-learning resources that stakeholders can complete at a time that suits them, as well as webinars and virtual sessions (although online learning may not be suitable for all courses and individuals);
  • Recent training delivered by SafeLives was highlighted as an example of good practice as it focussed on raising awareness of amongst professionals from librarians to housing leads;
  • The Domestic Abuse Awareness Raising Tool (DAART), developed by SafeLives with funding from the Scottish Government and hosted by SafeLives, provides a comprehensive overview for practitioners to help develop their initial understanding of domestic abuse.

38. When asked to consider the training in place for Maracs, attendees reflected:

  • There is a need to think more widely than Marac reps and chairs when considering who needs training. We need to think about who has the ability to identify and refer into Marac and ensure they have the knowledge, skills and confidence to do so in a robust way. Health Visitors were identified as a key group to be targeted.

39. When asked to consider how to strengthen existing training around the use of current risk assessment processes, attendees noted:

  • Training is needed to support its consistent use but there needs to be national support for the model, with consistent messaging required across organisations; and
  • Territorialism and competition for resources can't be allowed to undermine such important processes – we need to build on the strong tools that are in place, such as the SafeLives materials, rather than taking a step backwards.

Themes for Further Discussion

40. The following themes emerged from the deep dive session as key issues and possible actions to be explored. They will be considered as part of the Advisory Group's development of recommendations and an action/implementation plan:

i. How can we create the right environment to maximise training opportunities and impact?

  • This might be pursued through awareness raising, a champions' network, culture change, and linking policy to practice

ii. How can we develop a consistent approach to training, and ensure high standards of training, while sharing and making the best use of existing resources?

This could involve:

  • Developing a national framework/forum, and building a quality assurance framework to support it;
  • Developing clear standards/expectations for levels of training for practitioners (supported by appropriate resource), working with COSLA (and learning from other training frameworks like the Dementia Framework for Excellence);
  • A 'train the trainer' model;
  • Specific training for Marac Chairs/Co-ordinators, Idaas and representatives to ensure each is aware of their specific roles and responsibilities;
  • Working with existing mechanisms, or potentially developing a new forum, to regularly share learning about what works and what doesn't work in terms of workforce development



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