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NAPVAP is a newly fomed professional association in Australia which arose out of the awareness that much of the literature on partner violence is not readily available to many professionals in the community who are not in academic or research institutions, but who rely on academics and researchers to provide them with up to date information.

As it is only being set up in May 2011, it has a long way to go. We are beginning with this simple wordpress site, but will soon graduate to a fully fledged site with partner violence resources for professionals, including a clearinghouse that will provide access to a whole range of academic papers on partner violence.

There is a fragmented approach to the field of partner violence and what to do about it in Australia. The Federal Government and all State governments have developed a legislative response based on only some of the knowledge and research available in the field. This is because legal developments have rested on information provided by proponents of a traditional view of intimate partner violence, which has dominated the Australian legal response for the last 40 years.

Counselling and other relevant professionals who are in private practice or small counselling services, such as non-government organisations, only have ready access to highly selective sources of information on partner violence. This filtering has been carried out from a traditional ‘feminist’ perspective, which, while useful, is only applicable in a relatively small number of cases of partner violence.

The intention of forming this association is to improve access to the whole field of partner violence literature by establishing a Partner Violence Clearinghouse, and by providing information on a range of other kinds of resources, such as web sites, conferences etc to professionals working in this area.

The founder of the association is a counsellor with a special interest in high conflict relationships and abuse and violence between partners. She is also currently undertaking a Ph.D. investigating how counsellors respond to clients who present with a history of violence in their relationships. Violence in relationships can have a number of causes and sometimes requires a different approach from normal couples counselling processes. In some cases there is a a potential or even real risk to the safety of one or the other of the partners. Statistically this is somewhat more likely to be the female partner in a heterosexual relationship, but not necessarily, as at times women cause significant injuries to their male partners. And same sex relationships are not immune to violence either.

As a result of her own difficulty in accessing useful information in private practice, and recognising that other professionals would be in a similar position, she decided to set up a professional association dedicated to disseminating information and educating professionals.

Any professionals with an interest in joining the association will be welcome. The time is long overdue in Australia for opening up the field of intimate partner violence for a more informed debate that is not constrained by a specific, limited approach to this problem.

Toni McLean
Counsellor & Psychotherapist

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