Barnardos Child, Youth and Family Services (CYFS) Program Manager, Gethin Cadwaladr, shares his insights about the challenges families and children who have experienced domestic and family violence face and also their resilience.
Hi, I’m Gethin Cadwaladr and I’ve been with Barnardos for five years now, initially as a Family Support Worker for the Child, Youth and Family Service (CYFS) at the Auburn Children’s Family Center and currently the CYFS Program Manager. CYFS consists of five different programs, which include Family Support/Intensive Family Support, Domestic and Family Violence, Youth and Counselling Programs.
I am fortunate to be in a job that I’m very passionate about. It may sound cliché, but the most rewarding part of my job is getting to work with the families who are referred to our programs. The resilience they show constantly blows me away. Some of the stories they share are harrowing and it’s hard to fathom that these stories are their lived experiences. I’m grateful that I get to play a part in making them safer, building their capacity to parent, supporting them to make safer choices, building their confidence and hopefully starting the process of healing from trauma. I also get to experience and learn about different cultures, which is a beautiful way to connect with people.
As a child, I dreamt of growing up and playing football for Liverpool FC. I was definitely a dreamer (or delusional). Unfortunately, it was evident early on that I wasn’t going to live out my childhood dream so after trying out several roles in various industries, I found my calling in the welfare sector, specifically family support. Having previously worked for Barnardos Cymru (Wales), I knew what a great organisation it was to work for and how Barnardos’ vision aligned with my beliefs and values. From experience, I knew the wraparound service Barnardos offers ensures comprehensive, holistic and appropriate supports for families, which in turn leads to better outcomes.
It’s a sad reality that not enough is being done for children and families experiencing Domestic and Family Violence (DFV). Too often DFV is placed in the “too hard box” and organisations such as The Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ), Police and the Courts have not implemented an appropriate DV lens when working with families who are trying to escape DFV.
I think education and early intervention in primary schools is key. This needs to be part of the curriculum so that appropriate relationships are discussed at an early age. This would hopefully make DFV become less taboo, less socially acceptable, and more openly spoken about so that more families can feel safe and comfortable to reach out for help when they need it.
If we had more funding for specific DFV housing/refuge in the Cumberland area it would be beneficial. In addition, funding for Stay Home Leaving Violence is needed in Auburn and the surrounding suburbs. This would give us the brokerage to pay for essentials for keeping families safe like; security cameras, changing locks, putting locks on windows, security cameras in cars etc.
I would also love to see additional specific DFV support workers. And for all staff to be trained on how not to collude with men who choose to use violence. Specialist training needs to be provided for working with perpetrators. This is an extremely complex field and, in my opinion, needs intensive and specialist training to ensure that we increase the safety and wellbeing of survivors and their children. The danger is that without this training, collusion can occur, or we endanger and make it worse for the survivors.
It would be great to have accredited men’s DFV groups to be facilitated by Barnardos. With 70% of men who choose to use violence having regular contact with their children, we need to ensure that we are engaging with men, to ensure that the behaviour is highlighted. Working with men will continue to increase the safety of the survivors and their children.
Additional counselling supports are also badly needed. In an ideal world, all our clients would be provided with counselling support. I am lucky enough to manage the Counselling Program here at Auburn, which allows us to provide a wraparound service. Many of our families who are working with our specialist DFV Case Worker also access our counselling support. This allows for our survivors to heal from the effects of trauma, which is one of our Practice Framework Principles.
Like everyone, my work comes with its fair share of frustrations and challenges. But what keeps me going is knowing that peoples’ lives are better because I went to work that day. Our role here at Barnardos can often be heavy with distress, and I encourage everyone to take care of themselves so we can continue providing our services to those who need it most.