Reinvigorating the domestic violence sector : systemically addressing conflict, power and practitioner turnover

Duthie, Debbie Lee (2012) Reinvigorating the domestic violence sector : systemically addressing conflict, power and practitioner turnover. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


The purpose of this exploratory Australian study was to consider methods of retaining skilled and experienced staff within the domestic violence sector. The antecedents that might influence turnover of practitioners were investigated and analysed. Antecedents broadly included the work-related factors, organisational factors and professional factors. The changing nature of the domestic violence sector was also examined, in particular, feminist identity and feminist practice frameworks. It became evident, however, that the primary reasons for the turnover of study participants can be described as parallel power processes. The concept of parallel power processes as developed through this research aims to capture how workplace behaviours can strongly mirror, or parallel, behaviours used by domestic violence perpetrators. As such, it appears that some domestic violence practitioners are experiencing their own abusive relationship, not within the confines of their home, but within their workplace. Additionally, parallel power processes are compounded by ineffective conflict management processes within the workplace. These concepts directly contribute to practitioners leaving their workplace and, sometimes, the sector.

This qualitative study utilised a feminist research epistemology and focused strongly on practitioners' stories. Interviews were undertaken with fifteen domestic violence practitioners from three services within South-East Queensland, Australia. Two sets of semi-structured interviews provided in-depth information based on practitioners‘ experiences of working within this specialised sector. Analysis was conducted using a thematic analytical frame, drawing attention to the key themes as mentioned above.

From these findings, it is suggested that in order to retain practitioners, domestic violence services must identify and address parallel power processes through effective conflict management processes. In an operational sense, it is recommended that education and training be undertaken within all staffing levels, in particular management committees. Lastly, it is recommended that the sector itself places greater attention on the re-invigoration of the feminist principles and philosophy that has traditionally guided the sector.

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ID Code: 53134
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Burton, Judith, Best, Odette, & Lonne, Robert
Keywords: parallel power processes, conflict, occupational stress, domestic violence sector, feminism, feminist practice
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 14 Aug 2012 03:09
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2015 02:08

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