Partnership working is essential to providing a comprehensive response to the wide range of needs that domestic violence survivors may have.
(Home Office 1999)
The word 'multi-agency' is used throughout this chapter, which discusses the perceived strengths and weaknesses of a multi-agency, inter-agency approach; inter-agency, multi-professional and inter-professional groups are inclusive within this usage.
Whilst it is generally agreed that greater co-operation and co-ordination between agencies provide more effective and responsive services across a range of health and social care initiatives, significant challenges exist for those involved. Not least are the inequitable power dimensions between the collaborating individuals and agencies and the manner in which this differential can impact upon the decision-making processes. For more than a few professional and voluntary bodies to agree guiding principles or mutual philosophies to meet individual and collective needs, requires a considerable degree of negotiation and mutual understanding. For example, each agency, individual or organization has its own values and beliefs that define its specific agenda and consequently there are times when these militate against a harmonious, collaborative process.
This chapter explores the roles and responsibilities of a range of agencies and organizations that collectively seek to make a difference to the women and children they endeavour to serve. Additionally, the role of the major policy-making institutions and organizations is explored.
The needs of a woman in a violent and abusive relationship and those of her family tend to be very complex and inter-related. Seeking healthcare intervention for physical injuries or the mental health abuse consequences is in itself limited if the woman has to return to the perpetrator. For interventions to be successful, individuals, organizations and groups with a shared interest have to operate co-operatively to be effective. In doing so they can: