Critical Conversations bridging the gaps in responses to Sibling Sexual Abuse - an Australian example
M. Brown1, D. Dale1, D. Mcgushin1 (1Sydney AU)
It is widely recognised in the child abuse literature that engaging families where sibling sexual abuse has occurred is challenging, particularly where the abusing sibling is liable to criminal prosecution and parents must choose between perceived incompatible needs and interests of their children.
As first responders, the Joint Investigation Response Team (JIRT) Health Clinicians in New South Wales engage in trauma- informed educational and therapeutic ‘critical conversations’ with parents that focus on the therapeutic needs of all children in the family whilst prioritising the needs of the child who has been abused. The authors argue that ‘critical conversations’ with statutory child protection interagency partners are equally important in facilitating the prioritisation of therapeutic needs of children and families where agencies have differing lenses and agendas, particularly those of law enforcement.
In this paper we will explore the principles and values underpinning these conversations, provide case examples that illustrate how they have influenced the direction of service responses and consequently improved outcomes for children. We will also outline the development of the JIRT Health Clinician role in NSW since 2011 and the challenges inherent to providing this bridge between therapy, prevention and justice responses to sibling sexual abuse.