Building Collaboration with Child Protection and Domestic and Family Violence Sectors: Trialling a Living Lab Approach

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Collaboration across child protection and domestic and family violence (DFV) sectors have long been sought despite the competing priorities found in these practice fields. This article describes a research partnership that aimed to explore the competing priorities by focusing on how workers interact across child protection and DFV specialist agencies. Using a Living Lab Approach, enabled twelve focus groups with child protection and DFV social workers (n = 100). Thematic analysis was conducted, and it was found that diverse understandings of DFV created tensions when trying to form collaborations. These tensions were often amplified when other intersecting issues were present in family lives such as drug and alcohol and mental health problems. Understandings of Aboriginal cultural safety, and religious and culture impacts for cultural and linguistically diverse families were unintentionally sidelined. However, practitioners also formed common understandings of opportunities to progress and sustain collaboration across the sectors. The Living Lab Approach facilitated the development of a policy and practice guide for child protection to support future work. This has implications for social work practice because the Living Lab Approach enabled a call for a consistent approach to DFV that should be gender sensitive, trauma informed and culturally safe, and collaboration at practitioner, team and organisational levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)692-711
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number2
Early online date3 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021


  • child protection
  • collaboration
  • domestic violence
  • family violence
  • Living Lab
  • Child protection
  • Domestic violence
  • Family violence
  • Collaboration


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