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Edition 8

What's been happening

Family Safety Victoria

'I am safe, we are safe.' - Victim Survivor Community Conversations

A dedicated family violence agency will be set up for the first time in Victoria next month to co-ordinate and deliver better access to help, protection and support to end family violence.

Family Safety Victoria will be established as Administration Office alongside the Department of Health and Human Services and will deliver key initiatives to keep women and children safe and hold perpetrators to account.

Supported by the Victorian Government's historic $1.9 billion investment, Family Safety Victoria will:

  • establish and operationalise the 17 Support and Safety Hubs
  • coordinate family violence and other services accessed through the Hubs
  • ensure that phone and internet inquiries are referred to the relevant Hubs in operating hours and are connected to a state-wide service response after hours
  • implement a family violence information sharing regime
  • establish and operationalise the new Central Information Point (CIP), which will allow police, courts and government services to track perpetrators, keeping victims safe
  • redevelop the Family Violence Risk Assessment and Risk Management Framework
  • deliver the Industry Plan
  • establish and house the new Centre for Workforce Excellence to build workforce capacity and capability in partnership with the sector.

Family Safety Victoria will be at the centre of collaborative approaches to ensure victim survivors remain at the heart of the reforms.

It will ensure that the expertise of the family violence sector will shape the way reforms are delivered and embedded more broadly across social services, and will collaborate with a diverse range of groups to ensure responses are safe, accessible and culturally appropriate.

Recruitment is underway to appoint a CEO for Family Safety Victoria. The CEO will be responsible for supporting FSV's establishment and delivering Government’s commitments on family violence reform.

The CEO will be accountable to the Special Minister of State, Gavin Jennings MP, and the Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews MP.

FSV will work closely with the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC).

DPC will retain a family violence branch responsible for monitoring and coordinating the delivery of all 227 Royal Commission recommendations, and other whole of government aspects of family violence reform.

Taking a stand to help end family violence

Australia Post

Kristy McKellar speaking to BHP employees

Victim Survivors' Advisory Council member, Kristy McKellar, has been helping workplaces adopt measures for preventing family violence and supporting victims and survivors.

She met with Australia Post CEO Ahmed Fahour last August as part of the Male Champions of Change initiative. Their conversation was the spark for Australia Post's introduction of a free, confidential mail redirection service for victims and survivors of domestic violence.

Ms McKellar spoke to Australia Post staff about the confronting and costly process of changing her address while she escaped her violent relationship.

She then spoke about the hope she now feels knowing that victims and survivors can expect understanding and sensitivity from Australia Post staff members during such a traumatic time.

Read the Herald Sun article about Kristy's campaign.

You can see the details of the Australia Post policy on their website.

BHP Billiton

Kristy McKellar speaking to BHP employees

Ms McKellar then took her message to Western Australia, where she was invited by BHP Billiton to speak to rig staff in the Pilbara.

The sessions gave BHP insight into understanding how workplaces can play an active role in the prevention of family violence and better support both employees and the wider community.

Ms McKellar emphasised the importance of cultivating a workplace environment where all employees feel confident and safe enough to speak up and seek help from their employers.

Ms McKellar also had the opportunity to address the Port Hedland community at 'Help Soften the Blow', a forum organised to educate the general public about family violence. Speakers taught important skills for identifying potential signs of violence and discussed methods for breaking cycles of abuse.

Community groups partner to prevent family violence

Picture of hairdryer

From hairdressers to footy players to business leaders, Victorians are taking up the challenge to create the social change that will end family violence in their communities.

This month, the Victorian Government provided $3.85 million worth of grants through the Community Partnerships for Primary Prevention Grants Program. The grant program is designed to foster robust community partnerships that can prevent family violence at the local level.

All communities are equally important and grants will be awarded across regional, rural and urban Victoria. The need to coordinate and invest in community activity is a key theme of Victoria's Prevention Strategy and will play a key role in ending family violence and all forms of violence against women.

The program received nearly 170 applications. Successful proposals included:

  • a project training hairdressers to understand the links between gender inequality and family violence
  • a partnership working with male leaders in football clubs in Bendigo and Macedon
  • primary prevention partnerships lead by women’s health services across the state
  • promoting family safety partnerships in African communities
  • the ‘Liwurruk girls in the hood’ program, which is empowering Aboriginal women to take a stand against family violence.

A full list of grant recipients is on the Women Victoria website.

Read media release.

Engine room wrap-up

Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council (VSAC)

Waiting room at Dandenong Court

The Victim Survivors Advisory Council toured the newly upgraded Family Violence Court facilities at Dandenong Court in May.

They were joined by Deputy Chief Magistrate Broughton and Magistrate Hawkins and were able to see how the Magistrates' Court is working to improve the safety of victim survivors who attend court.

Members then met with the magistrates to discuss how the Court is implementing the family violence reforms and how to keep the experience of victim survivors central to those reforms.

The meeting was also attended by the Special Minister of State, Gavin Jennings MP, who spoke about how the $1.9 billion announced in the Victorian Budget to address family violence will benefit victim survivors. Members took this opportunity to talk to Mr Jennings about the importance of keeping the experiences of victim survivors at the centre of the reforms.  

VSAC's federal family law submission

VSAC has made its first formal submission to the Federal parliamentary inquiry on safety in family law announced earlier this year.

The Inquiry will address: how quickly the family law system responds to family violence; the protection afforded victims in the handling of consent orders; support for those who are self-represented; and the financial needs of those affected by family violence.

VSAC responded to each area of the Inquiry and utilised the lived experience of victim survivors in their multiple recommendations for reform of both procedure and process in the federal family law system.

Family Violence Steering Committee

A special consultation on the draft State-wide Concept for the Support and Safety Hubs was held on Monday 29 May 2017, with the Special Minister of State, Gavin Jennings MP.

Members had the opportunity to provide feedback and input into the concept. The next Steering Committee meeting will be held on 6 July 2017.

Family Violence Housing Assistance Implementation Taskforce

At a meeting on July 1, the Family Violence Housing Assistance Implementation Taskforce met to discuss the following projects:

  • the new Family Safety Victoria agency
  • the whole of Victorian Government Diversity and Intersectionality Framework, including housing and accommodation issues for diverse communities
  • the development of the Rough Sleepers Strategy, including an update on the Towards Home program, which is assisting rough sleepers in the Melbourne CBD
  • the work on the Homelessness and Social Housing Reform Launch Sites in Brimbank Melton, Hume Moreland and Inner Gippsland to improve the outcomes for people who are experiencing homelessness or housing crisis.

Work is progressing through three working groups comprised of Taskforce members, DHHS and DPC officials, the community services sector and academic collaborators. In April and May, advances were made on a number of key projects:

  • Dr Judy Yates’ research project on Victoria’s social housing requirements to 2036 was completed and released by the Taskforce.
  • An RMIT research project that is profiling women and children experiencing family violence who require a crisis supported response. It is expected to be completed in late June 2017.
  • Independent evaluations of the $152 million family violence Housing Blitz package and the family violence flexible support packages.

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

Diverse Communities and Intersectionality Working Group

The Diverse Communities and Intersectionality (DCI) Working Group met on 26 April 2017.

At this meeting the group provided important input into guidelines being developed by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission to guide family violence service and accommodation providers in delivering inclusive, accessible and non-discriminatory services to all Victorians. Set to be launched in the coming weeks, the guidelines will deliver on Recommendation 141 of the Royal Commission.

Members workshopped some case studies that demonstrate best practice in providing inclusive and accessible family violence services.

Working Group members will meet again on 21 June to discuss and provide expertise in relation to other important reform areas.

Social Services Taskforce

The Social Services Taskforce held their second meeting of the year on 1 June 2017.

At this meeting the Taskforce were provided with an update on the Government’s investment in family violence reform as part of the 2017-18 State Budget, the establishment of Family Safety Victoria and the progress of the Support and Safety Hubs.

The Taskforce were also briefed on Court reforms and their role in the implementation of the Royal Commission into Family Violence recommendations.

The Social Services Taskforce will meet again in August 2017.

LGBTI Taskforce's Family Violence Working Group

The LGBTI Family Violence Working Group has thus far provided input into the following reform areas:

  • victim survivor client journey mapping
  • Visioning and Hubs Statewide consultations
  • data and information sharing
  • Specialist courts
  • The Prevention Strategy, and the development of an LGBTI-specific prevention campaign
  • VEOHRC Guidelines for inclusive, non-discriminatory family violence and accommodation service providers (Recommendation 141)

Working Group membership includes high-level representation from across the LGBTI sector, including service, research and advocacy organisations, and representation across LGBTI communities. People with intersex variations are consulted through the Taskforce's Intersex Expert Advisory Group.

The Working Group is co-chaired by the Commissioner for Gender and Sexuality and Diverse Communities Branch, who also provides the secretariat support for the group.

The Working Group will continue to provide subject matter advice regarding: LGBTI-specific Royal Commission recommendations 166-69; the development, guidance and review of family violence policy, guidelines and services as they relate to LGBTI communities; current and emerging LGBTI family violence issues and on government policy to address these issues; and any other matters referred to it by the LGBTI Taskforce or Family Violence and Service Delivery Reform Group.

This Working Group was established in 2016 to assist with reform co-design and consultation processes on behalf of the LGBTI Taskforce.

Expert Advisory Committee on Perpetrator Interventions

On 18 May 2017, the Expert Advisory Committee on Perpetrator Interventions met for the fourth time. The Committee discussed how the hubs could potentially engage and work with perpetrators, while prioritising the safety of women and children.

The Committee also discussed a presentation on Victoria’s family violence prevention strategy, ‘Free from Violence’, and highlighted the importance of the need to educate people about gender equality and how to have respectful relationships as part of the continuum of interventions to respond to perpetrators of family violence.

Free from violence is Victoria's strategy to end family violence and all forms of violence against women. Watch the following video to see how everyone can play a role.

 

The next Committee meeting will be held on Friday 9 June and will focus on the range of perpetrator interventions in the justice system, including courts and corrections.

What's new

Research into the prevention of family violence in LGBTI communities

Group of 2 women and 3 children

The Office of Prevention and Women's Equality has awarded funding to Our Watch, in partnership with Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria at La Trobe University, to bring together research and evidence about the drivers of family violence and reinforcing factors for all parts of LGBTI communities.

This partnership will present the Victorian Government with national and international research that identifies effective principles of primary prevention policies and programs that work to prevent violence for LGBTI communities. This work will further inform implementation of the Prevention Strategy.

New LGBTI case managers

Through DHHS, the Victorian Government has allocated $400,000 funding across Drummond Street Services and the Victorian AIDS Council (VAC) for Victoria’s first dedicated LGBTI Case Manager positions. These two positions will support people experiencing family violence to access the services and supports they need, including Flexible Support Packages managed by VAC and other organisations.

Information sharing bill improving oversight of perpetrators passed

The Family Violence Protection Amendment Bill was passed by the Victorian Parliament on 7 June to create an information sharing regime specifically for family violence. It will amend the Family Violence Protection Act 2008.

The bill will make it easier to protect victims by allowing relevant organisations to share information about perpetrators without the perpetrator’s consent It will also create a Centralised Information Point that will provide timely access to up-to-date information, allowing quick and effective risk assessments.

Premier Daniel Andrews says the new laws “will provide the systems and approaches needed to allow relevant organisations to have the full picture of people’s circumstances”.

Financial counsellors continue to support victim survivors

An initiative announced in September last year to train and employ 10 full-time family violence financial counsellors is continuing to help victim survivors across the Victoria.

Minister for Consumer Affairs Marlene Kairouz visited the Good Shepherd Youth and Family Service in St Albans on 14 June. Since being established, the agency had offered help to 44 women at the time of Ms Kairouz's visit.

The counselling service is funded through Consumer Affairs Victoria’s Financial Counselling Program. It is a free, independent and confidential service delivered by community agencies across the state.

Read the media release

Improving child protection responses to family violence

The Victorian Government has established the Child Protection Family Violence Steering Committee as part of our continual efforts to improve child protection practice and systems for responding to family violence.

The committee will oversee the implementation of key recommendations relating to child protection practice and systems. These include:

  • strengthening practice guidelines for further engagement with perpetrators of family violence and improving collaboration between Victoria Police and service providers [Recommendation 25]
  • strengthening existing child protection guidelines, including a requirement for practitioners to include a safety plan as part of a child’s case plan [Recommendation 26]
  • improving information sharing with Victoria Police and specialist family violence services when a report to child protection has indicated the presence of family violence [Recommendation 27]

The child protection manual was recently updated to include new information related to working with families experiencing violence. Changes include new practice advice, a tip sheet for practitioners who work with perpetrators and plan child safety, comprehensive updates to information about family violence services and tips for receiving, registering and processing reports.

Promoting healthy relationships to young Aboriginal Victorians

Deadly Duos Competition

The power of friendship is the theme of a new social media campaign, launched by the Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service Victoria (FVPLS Victoria). The Victorian Government funded campaign focuses on promoting healthy and respectful relationships between young Aboriginal Victorians.

Kiah’s story shows how important it is to have supportive friends who can help to identify red flags in a relationship. Watch the animation.

The campaign includes a competition asks young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women aged 13-21 years who live in Victoria to talk about their BFF and why their best friend is so deadly. The competition closes on the 29 June.

Family Violence Risk Assessment and Management Framework

The Victorian Budget 2017/18 committed $30 million over two years to implement the redeveloped Family Violence Risk Assessment and Risk Management Framework, also known as the Common Risk Assessment Framework (or CRAF). This investment will also provide change management support for the breadth of workforces that work with victims and perpetrators of family violence.

KPMG, in partnership with University of Melbourne’s Professors Cathy Humphrey and Kelsey Hegarty, and Thomson Goodall Associates, have been engaged to deliver the Framework redevelopment over 2017.

The redevelopment of the Framework will include the review and development of new risk assessment tools; the development of comprehensive practice guidance; minimum standards and roles and responsibilities, and the development of sector readiness tools and resources for organisations.

The redevelopment will also be informed by other reviews including the Coronial Inquest into the Death of Luke Geoffrey Batty, and the 2016 Monash University review.

This is a significant program of work, and has important intersections with other family violence reform underway, such as the new information sharing laws, and the work of the Expert Advisory Committee on Perpetrator Interventions.

Over 2017 there will be significant consultation across different parts of the workforce about their role in the assessment and management of risk that will inform the development of the right practice guidance that people need.

Specialised Aboriginal Family Violence training

Three police

Victoria Police this month launched a specialised Aboriginal family violence training initiative. It will help police build trust and form collaborative relationships with Aboriginal communities.

A new eLearning resource, Understanding Family Violence in the Aboriginal Community, teaches police about the impact of Australia’s colonial history on Aboriginal peoples, and how past trauma can relate to violence and police interactions today.

It was developed with leaders of Aboriginal agencies and organisations including Victorian Aboriginal Legal Services, Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service and the Commission for Aboriginal Children and Young People.

The Royal Commission into Family Violence estimated that Aboriginal women are 45 times more likely to suffer family violence than non-Aboriginal women and 25 times more likely to be killed or injured as a result of family violence.

Victoria Police also announced this initiative through Facebook live and included media comments from Aboriginal Family Violence Legal Service Victoria.

Keeping women and children safe

Young girl with 2 dolls

The Victorian Government is helping keep women and children safe from family violence in their own homes through the state-wide expansion of the Personal Safety Initiative.

Personal safety responses and technology, including CCTV, personal alarms, locks and security doors, will be funded and accessed through a $17 million boost to the Flexible Support Packages program.

The expansion follows trials in eastern Melbourne and Gippsland.

The pilot, which is due to be completed by the middle of the year, is already helping at-risk women. Early findings from the pilot have helped the Victorian Government understand how personal safety responses and technology can be used to keep victims of family violence safe.

The expansion is supported by the Federal Government, which is contributing $2.6 million for 17 Personal Safety Coordinators to ensure personal safety technology is used consistently and effectively as part of a broader plan for the safety and wellbeing of women and children.

Trialling new ways to support victims of family violence

The Victorian Government recently announced $22.87 million for 26 pilot projects across the state to trial new ways to provide intensive therapeutic support to women, children and their families experiencing family violence.

The pilot projects will move away from a traditional model of crisis response to focusing on providing a therapeutic response for as long as survivors of family violence need. Find out more about the projects on the DHHS website.

Read media release.

Housing options and support for those affected by family violence

Houses

The Victorian Government is investing an additional $133.2 million through the 2017-18 Budget to support women and children impacted by family violence.

This investment will enable the redevelopment of family violence refuges and provide long-term housing options.

The $133.2 million package includes:

  • $83.2 million to redevelop all Victorian refuges to core and cluster facilities and construct two new Aboriginal refuges in the new model
  • $48 million to provide an additional 110 public housing properties specifically for women and children affected by family violence
  • $2 million to privately lease homes ensuring women and children can access housing support.

Read media release.

In the loop

Rolling Action Plan 2017-2020

Family Violence Rolling Action Plan 2017-2020

Watch this video now for a short overview on the government’s investment of $1.9 billion and next steps through the Rolling Action Plan.

Our Watch releases handbook to help practitioners put evidence into practice

A new guide has been released showing how to put evidence-based theory into practice. It will assist practitioners engaged in preventing violence against women in a variety of different contexts and is intended for specialists and non-specialists alike.

The handbook contains detailed step-by-step guidance, tools and resources based on the best available research in the areas of violence against women and gender inequality. It is written for practitioners working in any context, whether it’s the workplace, school, sports club, local government or an NGO.

The handbook can be found on the Our Watch website

Dark Secrets: Australia’s Hidden Shame

Ray Martin and Rosie Batty

More than 500,000 people watched the premier of Ray Martin's 'Dark Secrets: Australia's Hidden Shame'. Rosie Batty was one of the Australians interviewed for the one-hour special on family violence, raising awareness of the courageous and often confronting experiences of victim survivors.

Watch the episode.

Surviving domestic violence from an LGBTI perspective: My Other Closet, the Cabaret

Voice artist Russell Vickery tells (and sings) his story of surviving domestic violence in a cabaret performance that is running at the Bella Union from July 15-28.

‘My Other Closet’ is both entertainment and a community education project, offering an honest first-hand perspective on the unique aspects of domestic violence in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender relationships.

Visit the website for more information

Report into the cost of family violence

The cost of family violence in Victoria

The Victorian Government has recently release a report on the cost of family violence in Victoria.

In 2015-16:

  • the total cost of family violence in Victoria was an estimated $5.3 billion
  • the cost to individuals and their families was an estimated $2.6 billion
  • the cost to the Victorian community and broader economy was an estimated $918 million.

Read the full report.

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day

Raising awareness of Elder Abuse

15 June 2017 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day which aims to raise awareness of the maltreatment of elderly people. The incidence of abuse towards older people is predicted to increase as many countries experience rapidly ageing populations.

Seniors Rights Victoria provides information, support, advice and education to help prevent elder abuse and safeguard the rights, dignity and independence of older people.

Events are being hosted over the month of June to raise awareness. Further details are available on the Elder Abuse website and also within the promotional flyer.

Raising awareness of Elder Abuse: Protecting your rights - flyer Raising awareness of Elder Abuse: Protecting your rights - flyerPDF (908.92 KB)

‘My family knows all too well the consequence of a culture that victim blames’

Tarang Chawla reflects on what’s missing from the family violence conversation in Australia in a recent article published by To Her Door.

Read the article.

2018 Victorian Honour Roll of Women - Seeking nominations

The Victorian Honour Roll of Women (the Honour Roll) acknowledges and celebrates the outstanding achievements of women in Victoria.

Nominations for the 2018 Honour Roll are now open! If you know an extraordinary woman who deserves recognition for her contribution, leadership and achievements, please nominate her by visiting the Women Victoria website. Nominations close 5pm Monday, 17 July 2017.

Please also refer to the Women Victoria website for the application guidelines, further information and to nominate an outstanding woman you know.

Applications open for new Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Women Leaders Program

Two women in front of computer

Applications for the new Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Women Leaders Program are now open.

As Victoria's first and only female premier, the late Joan Kirner's political legacy is characterised by her commitment to promoting women and reforming education.

The Joan Kirner Young and Emerging Women Leaders program will honour Joan’s legacy by supporting up-and-coming female leaders to obtain the critical skills, networks and experiences they need to advance their leadership careers.

Applications close Monday 3 July 2017. Please refer to Women Victoria website for the application guidelines and further information about the program.

The program is open to individuals aged between 18 to 40 years who identify as a woman and live in Victoria. Scholarship recipients will have access to a comprehensive package of developmental opportunities that have been specially designed by Leadership Victoria to support them in their leadership journeys.

If eligible, you can submit an application under any of the following categories:

  • education
  • environment
  • women's health
  • western suburbs of Melbourne
  • Aboriginal women
  • culturally diverse women.

RSPCA and family violence

Woman with dog sitting on the pier

The RSPCA’s recent Animal Welfare update looks at the relationship between intimate partner violence and violence to pets and gives advice to vets on what to look for and how to offer assistance and information to those seeking help.

Read further details on page 15 of the April 2017 (Issue 56) of RSPCA's Animal Welfare Science Update.

For the calendar

  • 7 June 2017 - LGBTI Taskforce meeting
  • 9 June 2017 - Expert Advisory Committee on Perpetrator Interventions
  • 21 June 2017 - Diverse Communities and Intersectionality Working Group
  • 3 July 2017 - Establishment of Family Safety Victoria
  • 6 July 2017 - Family Violence Steering Committee meeting
  • 3 August 2017 - Family Violence Housing Assistance Implementation Taskforce
  • 18 August 2017 - Social Services Taskforce

Media articles

Housing boost for family violence victims

Hairdressers to cut out violence

Family violence investment to prevent homelessness

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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