Domestic and Family Violence - The Child’s Voice

This forum is held in conjunction with our partner organisation the Department of Human Services.

This forum of expert speakers including lived experience will focus on services involved directly with children experiencing child protection risk, and understanding the impact on children within the family construct. Our speakers will discuss current programs supporting children in need and ways forward.


Kerry Beck, Director of Safer Family Services and Ginny Cisneros, Assistant Director, Intensive Family Services, Safer Family Services, Department of Human Services

Learnings about child centred practice when working with families experiencing child protection risk

The Child and Family Support System responds to families with children experiencing child protection risk.  An overwhelming number of these families have domestic, family and sexual violence (DFSV) as part of their lived experience. This presentation will discuss ways of ensuring that the child’s voice is a central element of practice when responding in a context of active DVSV.

Kerry Beck has worked in the Human services for over 30 years beginning her career as a disability support worker and becoming a qualified Social Worker in the early 2000s. Kerry has worked across multiple settings including disability, mental health, housing, homelessness, drug and alcohol and child protection.  Kerry has spent the last 2 decades working in senior positions across SA Government to reform and shape service systems with a focus on the experience of children as accompany their adults through various parts of the human services system.

Ginny Cisneros is a qualified social worker with 25 years experience working in human services both in Australia and overseas.  The majority of her work has been undertaken in the domestic and family violence field and she is passionate about finding ways of working that  hold both the safety of children and the protective parent concurrently.  Ginny has led various integrated models and approaches and values a diversity of views, experiences and skills in developing strong safe practice which increases the safety of children, families and communities.

Craig Rigney, Chief Executive Officer, KWY Aboriginal Corporation

This has to be for our children. Understanding the impact of domestic violence on our children

For our Aboriginal children, the impacts of family violence are always severe and wide-ranging. Aboriginal children do experience family violence both directly and indirectly. As Aboriginal women are often the primary carers of children, they are frequently exposed (directly or indirectly) to violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and its aftermath. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are at greater risk of being exposed to family violence than other children. Two thirds of victims/survivors of physical or threatened violence share the household with children and in one third of cases the children are under the age of five. Today I will talk about the social, cultural, spiritual and physical impact that family violence has on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. The greatest direct impact of family violence is on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, who are especially vulnerable to the direct and indirect impacts of family violence – causing deep and lasting harm and contributing significantly to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s over-representation in Australia’s child protection systems.

Craig Rigney is a proud Ngarrindjeri/ Kaurna man born in Gawler, South Australia. Craig is dedicated to eliminating all forms of violence against women and children and stemming the flow of Aboriginal children and families into the child protection systems. Craig has worked in, led, and grown KWY for 14 years. KWY has been providing holistic culturally endorsed complex case management services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and families. KWY was also the lead cultural and specialist trainer and consultant for the South Australian Homelessness and Domestic Violence sector during this time. Craig, under the guidance of his Board, has built KWY from a staff of two in 2011 to an organisation with nearly 60 staff across Adelaide, Pt Augusta, Whyalla and the Riverland.

Celina Nguyen, Aboriginal Child and Young Person Advocate, Women’s Safety Services SA

The Impacts of Domestic and family violence on children

Celina will address the social, emotional and educational impacts of family violence on children and their families and how to apply relational and play based approaches to shifting normalised narratives and perspectives of violence within families.

Celina is a child and young person advocate with 11 years of experience working with children, young people and their families across government and not for profit services. She is passionate about child centred care, relational and play based approaches to case management and program development. As a first generation Australian herself, Celina believes in standing up and stepping forward to advocate and fight for voices who have been silenced by violence and genocide. She is passionate about working with multicultural families and Aboriginal families, recognising the importance of compassion and education in supporting future generations to tackle intergenerational trauma, breaking the cycle and stigma of violence in family settings. Celina acknowledges the Kaurna people as the traditional custodians of the land upon which she holds the privilege to live and work. This always was and always will be Aboriginal land.

Vanita Schwarz, Lived Experience, Volunteer Manager, Social Worker, Voices for Change, Embolden

Kids and violence.... what I wish I knew

Childhood trauma is complex and long term, this is something I have learnt, at times, the hard way. I will share with you my story, the impact this has had on my life and the impact this has on my parenting, and my children, and the challenges this brings. 

I'm a mum of three who grew up in what I thought was a typical family home. Through a life of many adventures and challenges I am now a parent and committed to breaking the cycle and impact of DV/FV and trauma in my family. Professionally I am a passionate Volunteer Manager, qualified social worker. I have worked in child protection, with kids under Guardianship, and in many of the DV support services I needed to reach out to when living through this. I am committed to advocating for change, to sharing my story to help others and breaking the cycle for my family and others.    


A/Professor Zohra Lassi (HDA Co-Convenor), Robinson Research Institute and School of Public Health, University of Adelaide.

Zohra is a trained epidemiologist recognised internationally for her work identifying interventions for improving reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health and nutrition in disadvantaged settings by advancing knowledge in public health practice and translation into global health policies and guidelines.


Other event information:

Networking and light refreshments will follow the session from 7.30pm.

Please note that this topic is of a very sensitive nature and emotional at times. You can listen to the recording here:

Tagged in domestic family violence, child protection