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There are several themes that cut across our family violence reform work. The Rolling Action Plan 2020–2023 addresses the following three priorities:
- Intersectionality recognises people are diverse and that characteristics such as race, age, class, ability, sexuality and gender can combine to create overlapping systems of discrimination and disadvantage.
- Involving people with lived experience of family violence in the design, delivery and evaluation of our work to prevent and respond to family violence helps ensure it is inclusive and accessible and leads to better outcomes for all Victorians.
- Aboriginal self-determination creates policies and structures that put Aboriginal communities at the heart of decision making on the matters that affect their lives. For further information, refer to the Dhelk Dja priority area.
Additional themes that cut across family violence reform have emerged during the development of the Rolling Action Plan:
- Adults, children and young people often experience sexual violence, abuse and harm (also referred to as sexual assault) in a family violence context. Reforms to the family violence system must take this into account.
- Children and young people are victim survivors of family violence in their own right. They have distinct needs.
There are limited Rolling Action Plan activities specifically related to sexual violence abuse and harm, and children and young people. However, these themes are considered across the delivery of all areas of family violence reform.
We also know that effective reform oversight and governance is critical to delivering family violence reform. Our governance and oversight structures continue to evolve in response to the maturity and progress of the reform.
This section reports directly on some activities contributing to overarching themes. However, activities reported in other priority areas also have reform-wide impacts, such as:
- the Workforce development priority area, which includes building the capacity and capability of specialist family violence services. This includes, for example, responding to the experience of diverse groups such as people from the LGBTIQ+ community, people with a disability, children and young people, and people from refugee and migrant backgrounds
- the Research and evaluation priority area, which includes developing consultation guidelines on incorporating lived experience into family violence program evaluations.
What has happened
- The Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council, created in June 2016, gives people with lived experience of family violence the opportunity to advise the Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence on the violence reform program. The council also participates in the design, delivery and evaluation of key reform initiatives. Council members are developing a Lived experience strategy. This will embed lived experience into the centre of the family violence and sexual assault systems. Council members are also appointed to family violence reform governance groups. They are closely engaged in the development of key initiatives for the reform, such as the Family Safety Victoria strategic and the Medium-term Perpetrator Accommodation Services.
- We have developed consultation guidelines on incorporating lived experience into family violence program evaluations. These guidelines promote a victim-centred approach to evaluation of family violence initiatives. They aim to improve awareness of good practice for including perspectives of victim survivors in evaluation.
- We are developing the 10-year strategy to prevent and address sexual violence, abuse and harm. It is informed by victim survivors and by consultation with the sexual assault and family violence sector and diverse communities. The strategy includes the Victorian Government’s response to the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s review of sexual offences in Victoria: Improving the response of the justice system to sexual .
- Victoria is working to implement the National strategy to prevent and respond to child sexual , a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. This strategy is the first of its kind in Australia. It provides a nationally coordinated, strategic framework for preventing and responding to child sexual abuse.
- We are focusing on strengthening system-wide engagement with children and young people. They have unique needs and experience the impacts of family violence in their own right. The Roadmap for reform: strong families, safe focuses on earlier intervention and prevention to reduce vulnerability and equip children and young people to reach their full potential. The Roadmap aims to enhance and integrate pathways for the children, youth and families’ services system. This will improve it for children, families and practitioners.
- Family Safety Victoria and Safe and (formerly the Domestic Violence Victoria and Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria) have worked in partnership to develop case management program requirements for specialist family violence services funded by the Victorian Government. These requirements provide specialist family violence organisational leaders with a case management ‘manual’ to ensure case management is delivered in line with a set of universal quality criteria. The requirements establish a statewide benchmark for quality, holistic and person-centred case management service delivery for children and young people and other diverse communities and age groups.
- The Everybody matters: inclusion and equity statement was launched in April 2019, following significant community engagement. The statement provides a framework to build towards our vision of a more inclusive, safe, responsive, accessible, and accountable family violence system. The statement applies an intersectional framework to outline a more inclusive family violence system. This will be done by investing in systemic change and building our knowledge, capabilities and specialisation. The Everybody matters inclusion and equity blueprint was released in 2021. It outlines actions and initiatives to achieve the statement's 10-year vision.
- The LGBTIQ+ Family Violence Capacity Building initiative is progressing. This initiative builds capacity in the specialist family violence system to provide appropriate support and resources for LGBTIQ+ communities.
- The Family Violence and Disability Practice Leader project aims to strengthen access to specialist family violence and sexual assault support for people with disabilities at risk of family violence. It will ensure that support is tailored to the individual needs of people with disabilities at risk of family violence.
Women victim survivors exiting prison
The Victorian Government is partnering with Flat Out Inc. to build the capacity of the family violence system to better support criminalised women.
The project includes a number of activities to support workforce capacity building and women with a criminal history who are at high risk of family violence. This includes:
- co-developing a best-practice framework with criminalised women to support cross-sector capacity
- developing and piloting training and capacity-building resources
- co-designing a specialised assessment tool to undertake legal needs assessment for criminalised women
- continuing the peer support network for criminalised women.
- The Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management (MARAM) Framework incorporates an intersectional approach to family violence practice across all MARAM Practice Guides, risk assessment tools and resources. This approach supports the building of capability across the service system to recognise gendered and other drivers of family violence that reflect structural inequality and discrimination, further contributing to barriers to service supports.
- The Intersectionality Capacity Building Project is developing resources to increase the capacity and capability of family violence and universal service workforces. This includes fostering including and equity by adopting and embedding an intersectionality framework across family violence, sexual assault, and child and family wellbeing.
- In 2020–21, the state budget provided $9.7 million for family violence prevention and early intervention with culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Of this, $7 million has been provided to 33 organisations through the Supporting Multicultural and Faith Communities to Prevent Family Violence 2021 Grant Program. This program will strengthen the capacity of multicultural and faith-based communities to prevent family violence. It uses innovative, culturally appropriate primary prevention and early intervention initiatives.
- We established the Family Violence Reform Advisory Group. The group comprises government and non-government members. It ensures the perspectives of people working in the family violence sector influence reform efforts. It also promotes transparency and government accountability to the broader sector. The group provides advice to the Minister for Prevention of Family Violence and relevant government departments to realise the vision set out within the Rolling Action Plan, Dhelk Dja: Safe Our Way – Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families Agreement and the Everybody matters: inclusion and equity statement.
What is next
- Capability building and strengthening of the workforce will continue through the LGBTIQ+ Family Violence Capacity Building initiative. It will also involve recruitment and engagement with family violence and disability practice leaders.
- We will continue to develop a Victorian elder abuse statement. This will set out our commitment to ending elder abuse in family violence contexts. It will outline the partnerships required to support older people experiencing family violence. It will also set expectations for the family violence service system to support older people.
- Over the next two years, we will strengthen engagement with multicultural and faith communities on the family violence reforms. This will build opportunities to strengthen engagement and build the capability of workforces of multicultural organisations. It will increase their knowledge and skills to support clients experiencing or at risk of family violence. We will also support cross-sectoral collaboration between multicultural, ethno-specific and faith-based organisations, specialist family violence services and The Orange Door network.
- The case management program requirements will be consolidated into a single document. This will include roles and responsibilities in the provision of emergency accommodation and after-hours services. This will integrate case management program requirements into all stages of support.
Reform oversight and governance
The Family Violence Reform Advisory Group will continue to meet three times a year. It will advise government on system-level impacts of family violence reforms. It will also consider opportunities for improvement in service provision.
Sexual violence and harm
- The Family Violence Graduate program provides a pathway for new and recent graduates into the family violence, primary prevention and sexual assault sectors. The program ran in 2021 and will continue in 2022.
- The Whole of Victorian Government sexual violence and harm strategy will be launched.
Children and young people
Victoria will continue to work closely with the Commonwealth, states and jurisdictions to influence a strong National plan on the safety of women and children and its supporting five-year action plan.
What this means for outcomes
The overarching themes in the Rolling Action Plan are mirrored in the Free from Violence Second Action Plan. They are embedded in projects being implemented across the primary prevention sector.
The approach taken to implement primary prevention activities is underpinned by the understanding that:
- intersecting forms of marginalisation and discrimination drive family violence and violence against women
- Aboriginal self-determination is fundamental to prevention projects within Aboriginal communities
- lived experience is critical to the design of prevention programs.
The primary prevention sector’s focus on these overarching themes will support Victorians, organisations and communities to be safe and inclusive.
Victim survivors' experiences are at the centre of our family violence reform. They inform how we conduct reform activity. The Victim Survivors Advisory Council (the council) gives people with lived experience of family violence a voice and opportunity to consult on the family violence program. It ensures their voices are heard and directly influence family violence reform. Members of the council also provide feedback and insights into critical issues through the Family Violence Reform Advisory Group and the Primary Prevention Sector Reference Group. This enables government to deliver better outcomes for all victim survivors of family violence. It also centres the experiences of victim survivors in prevention and perpetrator accountability work.
We will work to better support and engage with perpetrators by understanding their individual needs. Perpetrator-focused MARAM Practice Guides reflect the broad range of identities and experiences of people using family violence.
This intersectional lens is threaded throughout the guides. The guides consider the risk and needs of people using violence across communities. They support targeted responses for people using violence. This helps hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.
The following case study highlights how increasing our awareness and ability to respond to all individuals improves our outcomes.
LGBTIQ+ Practitioner Services
An example of pre-court engagement supporting early referral pathways to specialist family violence support services
Samantha* was listed as the female respondent for two separate family violence intervention order matters. Based on information provided through the application process, the matter was referred to the family violence practitioner service at the local court.
Before the court hearing, the respondent completed a notice of address form, in which they provided a different first name, Storm.* They also identified as a transgender male with pronouns he/him and requested support from the LGBTIQ+ Practitioner Service.
When the court registrar received the information, they referred the respondent to the LGBTIQ+ Practitioner Team. An LGBTIQ+ Family Violence Respondent Practitioner then engaged with Storm. They assessed his support needs and undertook risk assessment and safety planning. They also discussed appropriate referral services, including gender identity support services. The LGBTIQ+ practitioner updated court records to accurately reflect Storm’s name and gender.
The practitioner continued to engage with Storm throughout the matter. This ensured risk assessment and safety planning remained current. It also meant appropriate referrals were made to address Storm’s needs and support behaviour change.
*Names have been changed
Increasing the capability and skills of the family violence and primary prevention workforce is key to implementing many aspects of family violence reform. By increasing capability, workforces can respond sensitively to community members who are more vulnerable.
The Family Violence Reform Advisory Group also provides an important opportunity for family violence non-government professionals to directly engage with government stakeholders and reflect on the impact of reform for people affected by family violence.
Engaging across the community and sector creates a system that is person-centred, supports primary prevention, is responsive to victim survivors, including infants, children and young people, diverse cohorts and vulnerable groups, and can provide flexible tailored responses.
Reviewed 14 April 2022