Disability and family violence prevention: A case study on participation in evidence making

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Evidence and Policy, 2021, 17, (2), pp. 315-333
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Background: The paper draws on empirical evidence from a project investigating service responses to disabled women and children experiencing domestic and family violence (DFV). Service provision in these sectors is often rationed due to resource constraints, and increasingly marketised, and disabled people often do not have their needs met. Their opportunities for participation in policy and practice are also constrained. Aims and objectives: Our aim is to bring critical studies of intersectionality into dialogue with 'evidence-making' scholarship on policy implementation, to allow for new analyses of the inclusion of lived experience expertise in policy. We ask: What are the potential drivers for new forms of practice and evidence making in policy and service settings? Methods: The multi-method study comprised literature and policy review and qualitative research about the experience and implementation of an early intervention violence prevention support programme. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with mothers (n=27) and children (n=7), and service providers (n=28). Findings: Many mothers did not identify as disabled, although they discussed the effects of impairment. However, children were all diagnosed, and diagnosis was a means of accessing funding and services. The service was focused on brokering responses to family needs, and formal participation mechanisms for clients were not prioritised. Discussion and conclusion: Resource constraints and workforce capacity are ongoing concerns in the disability and violence prevention sectors. Relationships that facilitate trust, agency and choice remain key. Insights from critical policy scholarship suggest opportunities to recognise existing relationships as participation, with implications for policy and practice.
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