The transition to parenthood period can be a time of heightened risk for a range of wellbeing issues. As new parents adapt to the role of parenthood, they may experience changes in their routines, working hours, their relationships and finances, all whilst navigating the challenges of raising children. In response to need identified during this transition period, CFRE’s Just Families research identified early risk factors for the onset of family violence during the transition to parenthood for heterosexual couples, which informed the development of a range of practice principles, prevention education programs and a smart phone app with an in-built screening tool and links to service pathways.
CFRE is currently supporting the implementation and evaluation of drummond street’s Ready Steady Family (RSF) program, that aims to address early multi-risks in the transition to parenthood period (conception to first year postnatal) in order to maximise the mental health and wellbeing for all family members (adults and infants). It seeks to reduce couple/family conflict, improve family functioning and increase cohesion and couple relationship functioning during this period. It is one of the few services of its kind in Australia in that it is a flexible, multi-intervention program with a diverse workforce that specifically targets vulnerable cohorts within this transition to parenthood period.
Building on the Just Families research, CFRE is currently undertaking an evidence-building project to identify specific domestic and family violence risk factors during the transition to parenthood for LGBTIQ+ parents through a rapid evidence review, community consultations and a clinical file audit as part of the LGBTIQ+ Transition to Parenthood Primary Prevention Action Research project, funded by Respect Victoria.
One of the key findings from this research highlights how the normalisation of cisgender, heterosexual couples and families leads to a lack of recognition of LGBTIQ+ parents and a lack of acknowledgement that family violence can exist within LGBTIQ+ relationships. Gendered assumptions inform unhelpful societal messages and misconceptions that that two women cannot be violent, for example, or that two men cannot provide enough nurturing and care. These unhelpful and inaccurate gender stereotypes make it difficult for LGBTIQ+ individuals to recognise family violence and seek help when needed. They also allow for systems that often do not recognise queer families or offer appropriate and inclusive support. For those parents who also identify with other marginalised groups, such as people of colour or people with a disability, they often face multiple and intersecting layers of discrimination.