Acknowledgement of Victim Survivors
Family Safety Victoria acknowledges adults, children and young people who have experienced family violence, sexual violence, and all forms of violence against women and children, including those with lived experience within our workforce. We recognise the vital importance of family violence system and service reforms being informed by their experiences, expertise and advocacy.
We also remember and pay respects to those who did not survive and acknowledge all of those who have lost loved ones to family violence. We keep at the forefront of our minds, all victim survivors of family violence, for whom we undertake this work.
Family Safety Victoria (FSV) is grateful for the valuable input and insights that members of the Victim Survivors Advisory Council (VSAC) provided in the design and development of this document.
Defining lived experience
This document uses the terms ‘lived experience’ and ‘people with lived experience’ to describe:
- people who have experienced family violence and/or sexual violence.
- people with an experience of seeking support from the family violence and/or sexual assault system as a victim survivor.
- the families, and carers of people directly impacted by family violence via the aforementioned experiences.
FSV also acknowledges and values the many family violence and sexual assault sector professionals, academics and researchers with their own lived experiences of family violence and/or sexual violence. Their lived experience informs and influences their knowledge and practice in both explicit and implicit ways and is a valuable asset for this work.
Recommendation 201 of the Royal Commission into Family Violence set a broad vision for the Victorian Government to identify and develop safe and constructive ways to ensure that the voices of victim survivors are heard and inform policy development, law reform and service design and development.
In April 2022 Family Safety Victoria published the Family Violence Lived Experience Strategy, “More Than Our Story: Action, Wisdom, and Change” (Lived Experience Strategy). This strategy was developed in partnership with VSAC and builds on the work of FSV’s The Orange Door Client Partnership Strategy, and the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing’s Client voice framework for community These strategies and frameworks guide the improved design of family violence and sexual assault policy, service design, and law reform through the engagement of people with lived experience and by trusting in their leadership.
In Victoria, positive advancement of lived experience engagement in policy development, law reform and service design and development has occurred, however, there is an opportunity to further focus efforts on the role of lived experience in research.
The Family Violence Research Program 2021-24 (the Research Program) is FSV’s plan to deliver on its research priorities under the Research Agenda, in partnership with the sector and universities. It includes a competitive, open, merit-based research grants program delivered in two phases:
- Phase 1 of the Research Program includes projects funded in the 2021/22 financial year.
- Phase 2 of the Research Program will include projects funded in the 2022/23 financial year.
The embedding lived experience in research guiding elements project represents one part of FSV’s commitment to implementing our Lived Experience Strategy by developing meaningful ways for lived experience to be embedded in research through a partnership model.
FSV acknowledges that family violence and sexual assault research is underpinned by strong ethical guidance and are subject to stringent ethics review. These guiding elements complement such formal ethical guidance by supporting people with lived experience to be involved in all aspects of research projects. The guiding elements support people with lived experience to be engaged as partners and to have agency and influence over research projects, while benefiting from the research process and its outcomes.
Victim survivors are more than just their story, and it is critical that this is embedded in all areas of FSV’s work.
Who are these guiding elements for?
The guiding elements are for parties interested in applying for Phase 2 of the Family Violence Research Program.
Purpose and Implementation
This document’s purpose is to guide applicants of Phase 2 of the Family Violence Research Grants Program to embed lived experience in their projects.
All applications must demonstrate a commitment to partnerships between researchers and people with lived experience. Applicants will be required in the grants application form to provide information on how they will incorporate the guiding elements in their project.
The intent of these guiding elements is that they will enable partnerships that support shared decision-making between those with lived experience and researchers throughout a research project’s life cycle.
Principles to guide our work
FSV’s Lived Experience Strategy sets out important principles that anchor and sustain our work with people with lived experience.
The guiding elements in this document have been developed in adherence to these six principles. These principles are:
- Dignity: We listen, acknowledge, and learn from the expertise of people with lived experience.
- Value: Professionals and people with lived experience benefit from the work they do together.
- Inclusion: We include voices that reflect the diversity of people that are impacted by family violence in our work.
- Accountability: We ensure our work with people with lived experience leads to action and outcomes.
- Trust: We are transparent, honest and reliable in our interactions with people with lived experience.
- Trauma-aware: We have processes and guidance to support safe working relationships.
The guiding elements provide theoretical approaches and practical examples to embedding lived experience across each stage of research projects.
Guiding Element 1:
Embedding lived experience in the initiation of research projects
The initiation stage of research begins as an idea is identified and scoped.
Research projects may be driven by gaps in existing research, identifying a need for research, or by funding bodies commissioning specific topics. Community advocacy can also generate the need for formal research.
Research must be grounded in a common understanding of the topic between researchers and people with lived experience.
Foregrounding the voices, ideas, and perspectives of people with lived experience during initiation may support research development that is relevant to communities and people affected by family violence.
Involving victim survivors in the initial identification and scoping of research topics can ensure that projects are beneficial for all involved.
In practice examples
- Collaborating with lived experience groups and people with lived experience in the process of generating research ideas, questions, aims and priorities.
- Input from stakeholders, including people with lived experience, in refining and scoping the research topic.
- Identifying early how people with lived experience can and will be engaged over the course of the project.
Guiding Element 2:
Embedding lived experience in the design of research projects
In this stage, the shaping of research happens as projects are planned and designed.
When designing research projects and considering ways to approach and investigate your topic, there must be specific consideration given to how people with lived experience can shape the project.
This includes identifying the roles and type of partnership with people with lived experience across various stages of the research methodology.
Forming a genuine partnership between researchers, and people with lived experience during this stage of the project is crucial.
Individual and structural power imbalances lie at the centre of all family violence. Researchers must be committed to working with people with lived experience in partnerships that strive to dismantle any existing hierarchies of knowledge and power. These partnerships value the expertise of people with lived experience and have a commitment to shared decision-making.
In practice examples
- Planning for appropriate training and supports for researchers, and people with lived experience to carry out the work together.
- Budgeting that includes adequate remuneration, training and support for people with lived experience to carry out the work.
- Conducting project planning in consultation with people with lived experience, including agreeing on their involvement in each stage of the project.
- Working with people with lived experience to define appropriate data for collection and data collection processes.
- Formulating plans and developing research questions shaped by people with lived experience.
- Inviting people with lived experience to guide recruitment approaches for participant groups.
Guiding Element 3:
Embedding lived experience in the conduct of research projects
Through this stage project teams begin to conduct the research through collecting data.
The project’s tasks begin to be undertaken and the objectives and aims begin to be met; these are the transactional outcomes. Through undertaking the work together, people with lived experience and researchers may also experience growth and development beyond the transactional outcomes; these are the transformational outcomes. While the transactional outcomes of the 'doing' are essential, the transformational outcomes of working together are also valuable for all involved.
Researchers may learn and benefit from the partnership with people with lived experience and the incorporation of their contextual expertise. In addition, people with lived experience become agents and beneficiaries of the research, rather than being limited to participants and recipients.
Peer research is a participatory method in which people with lived experience of the issues being studied are involved in directing and conducting the research. Peer research allows for sharing and storytelling to be relational and may minimise the risk of exposing participants to unnecessary shame and discomfort.
In practice examples
- People with lived experience shaping ethics applications.
- People with lived experience shaping research participant safety practices.
- People with lived experience recruiting research participants through safe and sensitive practices.
- Peer researchers undertaking qualitative interviews and fieldwork.
- Peer researchers partnering with researchers to collect quantitative data.
Guiding Element 4:
Embedding lived experience in research analysis
During this stage project teams begin making sense of the data and understanding what has been revealed.
Analysing and interpreting data benefits from the partnership between researchers, and people with lived experience. This partnership allows for the exchange of insights and understanding. The working environment welcomes a diversity of thinking and different ways of knowing and theorising.
Through the foregrounding of insights and perspectives from people with lived experience, findings will be relevant and resonate with those who are affected.
In practice examples
- Forming a lived experience data analysis group which includes diverse perspectives.
- Peer researchers co-lead the generation and checking of themes in the data.
- Peer researchers co-lead the analysis and exploration of the implications of the information.
Guiding Element 5:
Embedding lived experience in the translation and exchange of research outcomes
This stage of the project enables the sharing and distribution of findings.
Once findings are understood it is important that the project team shares the findings in order to increase community, sector, and government understanding. This stage of the project may also have an influence over policy, programs, and investments.
Partnering with people with lived experience to distribute findings may enhance the credibility of the project and generate further impact by ensuring the research is accessible to the communities it affects.
The leadership and insights of people with lived experience may assist in knowledge dissemination that captures target audiences and leads to greater impact.
In practice examples
- Co-authoring papers and articles.
- Utilising creative ways to distribute findings, e.g., Videos, pictures and photos.
- Co-facilitating and co-presenting findings with people with lived experience.
- Producing plain language and easy to read documents with findings and recommendations.
Guiding Element 6:
Embedding lived experience in the continuous improvement of research projects
This stage of the project enables an opportunity for continuous improvement through reflecting on the project and evaluating the experience of working together.
A commitment from project teams to assess their work together is part of honouring the genuine partnerships formed and provides a further learning opportunity for all involved.
During this stage, project teams will reflect on what went well and any learnings from the process that could be improved. Project teams may also reflect on the value of partnering together in this way of working and plan for possible future opportunities to work together again.
In practice examples
- Discussing both the process and the outcomes.
- Sharing successes – both transactional and transformative.
- Reflective sessions on lessons learned.
Reviewed 02 March 2023