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Edition 6

Message from the Premier

Hon Daniel AndrewsOne year ago Australia's first Royal Commission into Family Violence delivered its ground breaking report.

It uncovered secrets. It opened locked doors. It gave victims a voice. It revealed the truth.

It made 227 recommendations which the Government immediately accepted.

We made it clear that we would waste no time in building a system that protects victims, holds perpetrators account, and prevents family violence from happening in the first place.

Over the past year we have made a significant start on this work. An outline of progress has been prepared and you can have a look at it at here. It shows how the changes and investments we are making are helping Victorians who experience family violence.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you - victim survivors, family violence specialists, service providers, experts and everyday Victorians for your contribution to this work. I would also like to acknowledge members of the Government for their commitment to delivering these unprecedented reforms.

We know that this is just the beginning. There is much more to do. We will make further announcements that will coincide with the upcoming budget. These will demonstrate that our commitment to these reforms is unwavering.

What’s been happening

Once in a generation reform: one year on

One year on

Building a future free from family violence started with the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

One report with 227 Recommendations. Unprecedented investment of $572 million. Once in a generation reform.

12 months on, the foundations for reform are changing the way we work across the family violence sector, government and other social services.

More women and children are getting the help they need as these reforms begin to take effect guided by the voices of victim survivors and the expertise of the specialist family violence and community sectors. Flexible support packages, is one of many changes which has offered immediate support to those escaping family violence. Read Mary’s story.

Victoria’s ambitious plan to end family violence is working to save lives, help to change attitudes and behaviours and has a strong focus on not only services but also prevention, early intervention and addressing the underlying links to gender inequality that leads to family violence and recognising that family violence can take many forms reflecting the diversity within our community.

Click here to find out what’s been happening for the last 12 months.

Our next steps

The next major milestones of family violence reform agenda will coincide with the upcoming 2017/18 State Budget, this will include:

  • delivery of our first Rolling Action Plan which will build on our investment last year of $572 million
  • an update on our progress to implement the Royal Commission’s recommendations
  • Victoria's Primary Prevention Strategy and the State-wide Concept for Support and Safety Hubs.

International Women’s Day 2017

#ChangeOurGame

To celebrate International Women’s Day, a bipartisan, interactive sporting event was held on the steps of Parliament House to highlight the contribution of Victorian women in sport. The event promoted the value of sport in enhancing gender equality and raising awareness of the importance of promoting core values of fairness and respect. The event was attended by elite female athletes and coaches across the four popular codes—AFL, netball, cricket and soccer.

An investment of $550,000 in funding for a new program to promote gender equality in grass roots sporting clubs across Victoria was also announced. The investment recognises the important role of sport in addressing gender equality. Elite athletes, program facilitators and state sporting organisations will work with local sporting clubs to support and celebrate women and girls’ sport.

To promote the outstanding work that women contribute year-long to Victoria’s economic and social prosperity, a calendar of women’s cultural events was also launched. The calendar features local Victorian events, campaigns and activities relating to women while also recognising the national and international days that acknowledge them.

Expressions of interest for a new Ministerial Council on Women’s Equality opened on International Women’s Day and will close on 31 March 2017. The Council will provide expert advice and help implement gender equality across Victoria.

For further information visit the Women Victoria website.

Victorian Honour Roll of Women 2017

Group of women honoured in the Victorian Honour Roll of Women 2017

On 6 March, 25 outstanding women were inducted onto the 2017 Victorian Honour Roll of Women at a ceremony in Melbourne.

The annual induction, which coincided with International Women’s Day celebrations, acknowledges and celebrates exceptional Victorian women who have made a significant and lasting contribution to their local community, the nation or the world, in many fields of endeavour.

This year’s inductees included VSAC member Kristy McKellar, Anna Moo, former coordinator of the Migrant Women’s Refuge and founder of the Refuge Ethnic Workers Program, Peta Searle, the first female to coach in the Australian Football League, and the late Stella Young, a journalist, comedian and activist who challenged the way Australians perceive disability.

The 2017 inductees will join over 500 remarkable women named in in the Honour Roll since it commenced in 2001.

For more information and to read their inspirational stories visit the Women Victoria website.

Support and Safety Hubs Consultations

DPC is continuing to work with organisations in the family violence and child and family services sectors to work with people who have accessed these services and hear their insights into how Support and Safety Hubs should work.

We have held three Support and Safety Hubs workshops with an Expert Design Group that has brought together frontline workers and leading thinkers from across the service system. DPC has also met with the Diverse Communities and Intersectionality Working Group, and today will meet with the Aboriginal Co-design Forum. This work will inform the Support and Safety Hubs State-wide Concept, which will provide a standard model for the design and implementation of the Hubs to ensure a baseline approach and consistent response for all Victorians.

DPC has also commenced initial engagement with key stakeholders in the launch site areas, in preparation for local design which will commence in earnest following the release of the state-wide concept.

Reducing Family Violence in Aboriginal Communities

The 2016-17 Indigenous Family Violence Strategy Community Initiatives Fund is investing $650,000 across 40 projects to prevent and raise awareness of family violence in Aboriginal communities across Victoria.

The projects have been recommended by the 11 Indigenous Family Violence Regional Action Groups located throughout the state that identified priority areas for funding in their community.

Projects include:

  • Ballarat – Healing Our Mob: a project aimed at bringing the community together to talk about the impact of family violence and how to address the problem
  • Geelong – A preventative project for fathers using traditional methods such as storytelling and yarnups (a community discussion) to help build strong family relationships
  • Outer Eastern Melbourne - supporting Aboriginal women who have been victims of family violence with tailored legal, family violence and maternal and child health information sessions. Cultural training and workshops will also be held to educate family violence workers.

’Engine room’ wrap-up

Aboriginal Co-design Forum

Aboriginal Co-design forum

The Aboriginal Co-design Forum is being held today.

The purpose of this forum is to continue conversations from 2016 and co-design responses on recommendations from Victoria's Royal Commission into Family Violence, in partnership with Aboriginal Community representatives and stakeholders.

The forum presents an important opportunity to influence key family violence system reforms that will impact on many Aboriginal people and families across Victoria.

This forum will include discussions around (but not limited to) the following items:

  • Holistic Healing Models - workshop activities
  • Support and Safety Hubs
  • Family Violence System Reform - update
  • Dynamic Report Tool
  • Industry Plan and Workforce Census.

The Co-design Forum is intended to be a broad engagement mechanism to garner as many perspectives as possible to shape the reform agenda.

Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council (VSAC)

Opening doors - a victim no more

The Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council held its planning day on Wednesday 22 March 2017.

The planning day enabled the council to reflect on their work to date and next steps. It also included a performance from the No Excuses Choir, made up of victim survivors of family violence.

VSAC is now also represented on the newly formed ‘Profiling Women and Children in Refuge’ reference group, a group that sits under the Family Violence Housing Assistance Implementation Taskforce.

VSAC member, Phil Cleary, is leading social change at local footy clubs in the Hume Municipality. Phil is working on a campaign with Dianella Community Health to help end violence against women. He will be talking to clubs in the Essendon District Football League in April and May about the role local footy clubs have in changing attitudes and behaviours towards women. He will be asking them to take on the challenge of creating roles for women and settings which are respectful towards girls and women.

Phil will be speaking in the following clubs:

  • 7.30pm, 27 April 2017 – Roxburgh Park
  • 7.30pm, 2 May 2017 – Craigieburn
  • 8.00pm, 4 May 2017 – Tullamarine
  • 7.30pm, 16 May 2017 – Jacana
  • 7.30pm, 18 May 2017 – Westmeadows

On International Women’s Day, VSAC Chair Rosie Batty was named one on the Amnesty International list of bold and inspirational women. Rosie was acknowledged alongside a group of women who are all working to combat inequality and injustice against their fellow humans beings.

Click here for the full list.

Family Violence Steering Committee

The Family Violence Steering Committee held a planning workshop on 9 March 2017.

The workshop provided an opportunity for Steering Committee members to hear about the key milestones and priorities for the current year across eight family violence work streams across government. These included prevention, information and data reform, justice reforms, perpetrator accountability, police reforms, Support and Safety Hubs and family violence housing. Members provided input and expert advice on a number of outstanding policy design and matters across these reform work streams.

In addition, the Steering Committee was provided with the draft 2017 Engagement Schedules across all family violence work streams, including those streams that sit with the Department of Justice and Regulation, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education and Training and Victoria Police. This document provides members with an overview and snapshot of the concurrent engagement activities in 2017 across the breadth of the whole of Victorian Government reforms.

The next Family Violence Steering Committee is scheduled to occur in early May 2017.

Family Violence Housing Assistance Implementation Taskforce

The Family Violence Housing Assistance Implementation Taskforce (the Taskforce) has met nine times since it was established in May 2016 and will next meet on 4 April 2017. The Taskforce is progressing its work through three working groups comprised of Taskforce members, DHHS and DPC officials, community services sector and academic contributors. In March, a number of key pieces of work have progressed including:

  • RMIT University has been engaged to undertake research profiling women and children experiencing family violence who require a crisis supported response, with an anticipated completion date of late June 2017. This research will provide a clearer understanding of the refuge access and exit issues for different client groups and recommend strategies to improve pathways to sustainable housing.
  • the independent evaluations of the $152 million family violence Housing Blitz package and the family violence flexible support packages, with the Evidence working group and the Support Services working group providing ongoing oversight and expert advice on these projects.

For more information on the taskforce and its work, please email: FVHT@dhhs.vic.gov.au.

Roadmap for reform

This year the Victorian Government is focused on designing, testing and implementing many of its Roadmap for Reform initiatives.

The Intensive Support in the Early Years' service has entered its next phase of development with a number of design workshops scheduled in the coming months. Participants are working through exactly what services and interventions are needed to support highly vulnerable pregnant women and families with young children.

Progress is being made on the nine innovative models of care and support that are being tested in Victoria’s south to assist children and young people in, or at risk of entering, out-of-home care. There is a strong focus on co-design with these models, and ensuring they represent best practice and insights from out-of-home care practitioners. Over the next 18 months the Victorian Government will co-ordinate, test, refine and evaluate the models.

At the end of February, the Roadmap Implementation Ministerial Advisory Group met for the first time this year where they discussed how key areas of reform are progressing. The working groups under the Advisory Group are continuing to oversee and support much of the work.

The second Roadmap for Reform Symposium is scheduled to be held mid-year. The Symposium will provide an opportunity for the Victorian Government to engage with the community services sector on the progress of initiatives under the Roadmap for Reform.

Diverse Communities and Intersectionality Working Group

On 2 March 2017, the Diverse Communities and Intersectionality (DCI) Working Group met and welcomed a new member from the Centre for Multicultural Women’s Health.

At this meeting the group contributed their expertise on the design and function of the Support and Safety Hubs. The group discussed how Support and Safety Hubs design principles can be used to ensure that all hubs will be accessible and inclusive for people from diverse communities but also allowing for both state-wide consistency and local area responsiveness. The group also took some time to reflect on its work to date and how the group can ensure it can continue to contribute its expertise across reform areas.

In April, members will meet again to discuss the Group’s forward work plan and to consult on specific reform areas.

Social Services Taskforce

The Social Services Taskforce held its first meeting of the year on 27 February 2017.

At this meeting the Taskforce was provided with an update on Victoria Police’s approach to implementing the Royal Commission recommendations under their responsibility.

The Social Services Taskforce also considered items related to perpetrators of family violence, the Diversity and Intersectionality Framework and a report back on the work of the Industry Taskforce.

The Taskforce provides a forum to discuss and link the wide range of social policy reforms currently underway across government and industry, and plays a critical role in helping to achieve the broader social services and justice reform agenda. The Social Services Taskforce will meet again in June 2017.

Expert Advisory Committee on Perpetrator Interventions

On 15 March 2017, the Expert Advisory Committee met for the third time and considered work to support the government’s response to Royal Commission Recommendation 85 within the recommended 12 month time-frame.

The Centre for Innovative Justice (CIJ), who have been engaged by DPC to map the roles and responsibilities of the service providers and agencies that have contact with perpetrators of family violence, presented to the Committee on the second phase of their work.

The Committee discussed the map of the possible roles and responsibilities that agencies and service providers have in their contact with perpetrators, providing a strong foundation for further more detailed sector consultation. It is anticipated that after March, DPC, in partnership with CIJ, will consult more broadly with the non-government sector, including services, peak bodies, and Aboriginal and diverse communities.

Having a clear understanding of the responsibilities and connections between service providers and agencies in the perpetrator service system will support work toward an integrated, whole of system response to perpetrators of family violence. Ultimately this work will provide greater clarity to all relevant services and agencies about what we are currently doing right in our engagement of perpetrators, and what we can do better in future.

The Committee also discussed the principles that should inform the services, initiatives and programs that respond to perpetrators of family violence.

What’s new

New laws

This month, the Victorian Government has introduced new legislation to better protect victim survivors and enhance the justice system’s response to family violence.

The introduction of the Family Violence Protection Amendment Bill 2017 was a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

The Bill will increase protections for women and children through quicker processing of family violence intervention orders, new measures to intervention order appeal processes and in some cases, the ability to use pre-recorded evidence to support family violence offences.

Find out more about the Bill.

New family violence practitioners

Three Family Violence Principal Practitioners positions were created in response to  Recommendation 213 of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

The Family Violence Principal Practitioner role is to build family violence workforce capability within the Victorian Government, lead practice reform across our departments and support the key priorities for practice development identified by the Royal Commission in to Family Violence and the 10 Year Plan.

The Family Violence Principal Practitioners will work state-wide and connect policy, research and practice. They will support models of practice that recognise intersectionality and address vulnerability, trauma and disadvantage.

The new practitioners are:

Department of Education and Training (DET)

Malia Dewse - has over 20 years’ experience in workforce development, research and evaluation and family violence service provision, policy and implementation. In Victoria she has worked at the state-wide family violence crisis service and in whole of government system reform.

Department of Health ad Human Services (DHHS)

Dr Anita Morris - holds a PhD in health responses to children experiencing family violence. She has worked as a social work practitioner, researcher and manager across family violence, public health, education and the community sector for over 20 years, with a strong interest in responses to children and trauma informed models of care.

Department of Justice and Regulation (DJR)

Connie Kellett - has worked within the Victorian family violence sector and over the past 12 years. Connie has held a position as social work manager and executive within the Federal Department of Human Services leading national reform in family violence. She is currently completing her PhD researching the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires through a gender lens and is a member of the Beyond Bushfires study at the University of Melbourne.

For the calendar

Calendar

4 April 2017 - Family Violence Housing Assistance Implementation Taskforce

6 April 2017 - Diverse Communities Intersectionality Working Group

13 April 2017 - Family Violence Steering Committee meeting

18 April 2017 - Victim Survivors’ Advisory Committee meeting

20 to 21 April 2017 - Indigenous Family Violence Partnership Forum

26 April 2017 - The Diverse Communities and Intersectionality Working Group

18 May 2017 - Expert Advisory Committee on Perpetrator Interventions

30 - 31 May 2017 - Aboriginal Children’s Forum

Media articles

Targeting gendered norms and stereotypes from the classrooms
Read article.

Big Little Lies continues to expose the misconceptions of an ’abusive relationship’
Read article.

Early Years reaping results
Read article.

In the loop

Promoting change is about changing the culture of what is acceptable

The Policy Shop - The University of Melbourne

A recent podcast by ‘The Policy Shop’ and hosted by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, examines the issue of family violence with a panel of subject experts.

Family Violence Steering Committee member and CEO of Women’s Legal Service Victoria, Joanna Fletcher, Professor Germaine Greer and Mary Polis, former Chief Executive Officer of Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence highlights the importance of holistic approaches to intervention, the need to change community attitudes to family violence and to bring this discussion out from behind closed doors.

Listen to the podcast.

GQ Australia & family violence

Tarang Chawla

GQ Australia, March edition, featured Victim Survivor’s Advisory Council member, Tarang Chawla, in the Real Men on What it Means to Be Masculine in 2017, helping to mainstream family violence and its underlying causes to creating social change in Victoria.

Read article.

’Getting Ridhima my hair!’

Nikita Chawla

Nikita Chawla, sister of VSAC member, Tarang Chawla, was murdered by her husband in 2015. Nikita Chawla's best friend Ridhima Tandon shaved her head to raise money for Domestic Violence Victoria. She has raised almost $10,000. Donate to the cause.

Watch video.

Silence is the Accomplice

Australian Army Jacket

“Silence is the Accomplice” is a short film produced by the #AustralianArmy that tells the stories of four of its members: four very brave serving soldiers and their experiences with family and domestic violence.

The Australian Army hopes to start a meaningful conversation and has spoken out that this violence happens too often behind closed doors and things must change.

Watch the video.

Special Rapporteur

United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Dr Dubravka Šimonoviæ, visited Australia from 13 to 27 February meeting with a number of victim survivors as well as government, non-government and family violence sector organisations.

In Victoria, she met with members of the Family Violence Steering Committee, VSAC and members of the Indigenous Family Violence Partnership Forum.

Dr Šimonoviæ's also visited Canberra, Sydney, Hobart, Brisbane, Cherbourg, Alice Springs, and Adelaide and her review focused on assessing laws, policies and services to prevent and combat gender based violence.

Read the official trip summary.

We want to hear from you

Do you have content to share? Send your photos, videos, key dates or any other information to fv.consultations@dpc.vic.gov.au.

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