Could I work in family violence?

  • Are you empathetic, a good listener and communicator?
  • Do you want to work in a busy, dynamic and evolving sector that is receiving more government investment than ever before?
  • Do you want to change the story for people affected by family violence?

If this sounds like you, the Victorian family violence sector wants to hear from you.

Right now, there are opportunities across Victoria for people with diverse skills, experience, backgrounds and qualifications.

Family violence roles are incredibly diverse - from case management and counselling, to policy and research, to training and communication. Find out more about the diversity of jobs by reading our case studies.

For career changers

Do you work in the community services sector? Are you looking for opportunities to grow your skills in another, related part of the sector?

Then you could be exactly what the family violence sector is looking for.

You can bring in your skills as a social or community services worker and transfer your skills and experience from other, related fields, such as psychology, housing and homelessness, drug and alcohol, mental health, child and family services, disability services, criminal justice and so on.

You will learn and grow through the support of your colleagues, on-the-job training and best practice approaches.

Working in family violence

  • Working in family violence is challenging but meaningful and rewarding.

    • You will work and collaborate with committed and highly skilled people to help change the story for Victorian families affected by family violence.
    • You will learn and grow through the support of your colleagues, on-the-job training and best practice approaches.
    • You can bring in your new skills as a social or community services worker or transfer your skills and experience from other, related sectors.
    • Many family violence roles offer competitive salaries, salary packaging and all now offer portable long service leave.
    • Formal training to build skills and knowledge in family violence. 
  • From social workers and educators, to communicators and researchers - the family violence sector needs people with different skills, experiences and backgrounds for roles as diverse as the communities we serve.

    Pathways to work span all educational sectors, including:

    • industry and vocational (diplomas and certificates)
    • higher education (bachelor and post graduate)
  • With so many different types of roles in the family violence sector, a wide variety of skills, experience and qualifications are needed. Some response practitioners require specialist skills and experience, but the requirements are much broader for roles in fields such as:

    • corporate services
    • administration
    • project and policy work
    • education and training
    • communications
    • legal and court advocacy
    • therapeutic support and counselling
    • primary prevention

    Find out what employers are looking for by searching the jobs on the Family Violence Jobs Portal.

    Introducing Mandatory Minimum Qualifications for specialist family violence practitioners

    Over the next five years a new mandatory minimum qualifications policy will apply to specialist family violence practitioners entering the workforce from 1 July 2021.

    The five-year transition period will give people starting careers as specialist family violence practitioners a number of options for meeting the new mandatory minimum qualification requirements while balancing work and life commitments.

    For more information about what this means to become a new specialist family violence practitioner, visit Mandatory minimum qualifications for specialist family violence practitioners.

    Other roles outside of the specialist response workforce may suit people with broader skills and experience who wish to pursue a career in family violence. This could include work in primary prevention, Men’s Behaviour Change Program facilitation or other non-specialist roles in a family violence service.

Working with Aboriginal communities

There are many opportunities at Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and mainstream services for people with various skills, experiences and backgrounds to work with Aboriginal people affected by family violence. Be part of a team to make positive change with Aboriginal communities. Visit the Family violence jobs portal to find jobs

  • A community-led Aboriginal agreement to address family violence has been launched, along with funding to address family violence in Aboriginal communities.

    Dhelk Dja: Safe Our Way – Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families (Dhelk Dja) was released in October 2018 and is a 10-year Victorian Agreement that commits Aboriginal communities, Aboriginal services and the Victorian government to work together and be accountable for ensuring that Aboriginal people, families and communities are stronger, safer, thriving and living free from family violence.

    About Dhelk Dja

    Dhelk Dja is built on self-determination and aims to drive action at the state-wide, regional and local level. It has the following strategic priorities:

    • Priority 1: Aboriginal culture and leadership
    • Priority 2: Aboriginal-led prevention
    • Priority 3: Self-determining Aboriginal family violence support and services
    • Priority 4: System transformation based on self determination
    • Priority 5: Aboriginal led and informed innovation, data and research

    The 2019-20 Victorian Budget included $28.7 million to continue the work of Dhelk Dja, $18.8 million for more frontline Aboriginal family violence services, and $9.9 million for the establishment and operation of Aboriginal Access Points which will be culturally safe places for Aboriginal people to access family violence support within The Orange Door network.

Supporting diverse communities

The Everybody Matters: Inclusion and Equity Statement is a ten-year commitment by the Victorian Government that supports Ending Family Violence: Victoria’s Plan for Change to build an inclusive, safe, responsive and accountable family violence system for all Victorians. 

A set of definitions are used in the Statement to build a shared understanding across government, the family violence service system, its workforces and across the community about taking an intersectional approach to better support those who experience or who use family violence, regardless of their gender, sex, sexual orientation, age, ability, race or religion. 

  • The Royal Commission into Family Violence recognised that for some groups in the community, family violence is less visible and less well understood by service providers and the broader community. The Royal Commission also acknowledged that the experiences of people from diverse communities are not necessarily reflected in current frameworks. As a result, these groups may be at greater risk of family violence, may experience it at higher rates, and/or face multiple and intersecting barriers to reporting, seeking and obtaining help.

    The Royal Commission identified the following diverse community groups:

    • culturally and linguistically diverse communities
    • faith communities
    • lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) communities
    • people with a disability
    • people experiencing mental illness issues
    • older people
    • women in or exiting prison or forensic institutions
    • people working in the sex industry
    • rural, regional and remote communities
    • male victims
    • young people (12–25 years of age)

    There are many opportunities at community and mainstream services for people with various skills, experiences and backgrounds to work with diverse people impacted by family violence.

    Be part of a team to make positive change with diverse communities. Visit the Family violence jobs portal to find jobs.

Types of roles

Find more information on the types of roles that exist within the Victorian family violence sector.

Specialist response roles

  • Intake and assessment

    Family violence intake and assessment workers are focused on ensuring clients have access to the information and support they need to stay safe and recover from their experience of family violence. Family violence intake and assessment workers respond to calls, referrals and other modes of contact from or related to victim survivors of family violence. These services aim to assess and manage family violence risk, including triaging clients and coordinating associated crisis responses.

    The nature, intensity and duration of the service response is tailored to the client’s risks and needs and may include one or a combination of the following:

    • information and advice (including to families, the community and other professionals)
    • risk and need assessments
    • development of safety plans
    • coordination of crisis responses
    • referral to appropriate services for further support

    Crisis intervention and support

    Crisis intervention and support workers are trained in crisis intervention and provide (predominantly) telephone support to people who are experiencing or have experienced family violence. There are a range of measures crisis intervention and support workers can undertake including to:

    • Provide immediate psychosocial and emotional support.
    • Explore coping strategies and provide accurate information about rights.
    • Safely manage any immediate threat to life or safety and talk about ways to improve safety.
    • Open pathways for longer term solutions to including linkages and referrals to appropriate services.
    • Access to safe emergency accommodation.
    • Crisis intervention and support workers normally have a background as a Counsellor, Psychologist, Case Worker or Social Worker.

    Practitioners/case management for victim survivors

    A Specialist family violence practitioner/case manager for victim survivors works with people experiencing family violence to secure or advocate to secure the resources and supports required to address safety, wellbeing and recovery goals, including the safety and recovery of children and young people.

    The role incorporates the management or coordination of the wide range of responses often needed to promote safety and wellbeing of victim-survivors, as well as the task-focused case work in support of case management goals. 

    Practitioners address gender and power issues underlying the violence on both personal and social levels including:

    • Supporting processes, such as legal avenues, to increase accountability of perpetrators.
    • Continuously monitor the safety of victim survivors, providing high quality risk assessment and safety planning and activation of supports to help clients to achieve and sustain safety and manage risk.
    • Providing a range of support services and intervention, both individual and group based.
    • Effectively work with relevant service providers to support an integrated approach to referral pathways, protocols and joint initiatives in the family violence sector.
    • Ensuring accurate client case notes/records and data collection.
  • The Orange Door is a new way for women, children and young people experiencing family violence and families in need of support with the care, wellbeing and development of children and young people, to access the services they need to be safe and supported.

    It does not replace existing specialist services or responses but enables a new entry point. Importantly, The Orange Door has no restrictions or criteria for entry: contact is attempted for every adult client referred.

    The Orange Door has been designed to:

    • Provide an integrated intake pathway to women’s and children’s family violence services, services for men who use violence and child and family services.
    • Hold perpetrators to account by engaging and supporting them to participate in interventions that address the risk they pose and challenge their behaviour.
    • Keep the whole of family in view with support tailored to each family member’s needs.
    • Provide an integrated service response and connect people to a wide range of supports across the spectrum of prevention, early intervention, response and recovery.

    For more information about working in The Orange Door and the types of roles available, visit our page Working at The Orange Door.

    To access jobs at the Orange Door, visit the Family violence jobs portal.

  • Refuge case manager

    This role provides a crisis response, refuge accommodation and support services to victim survivors who are escaping high risk family violence including:

    • ensuring women and children have safe and secure accommodation in which their crisis support needs are met (intake, ongoing risk assessment and safety planning, case management, exit planning and post-exit support)
    • advocating for clients with police, doctors, court, housing and other services.
    • practical support such as providing material aid and transport to clients attending court and other appointments and services
    • providing clear and accurate information about the legal system, Centrelink, housing, health and other relevant options available to women
    • providing emotional and/or therapeutic support including to children
    • general cleaning and setup of accommodation units and shared spaces
    • conducting ‘house meetings’, group activities and managing dynamics between resident households

    Refuge - children’s worker

    Like a refuge worker but with service delivery tailored exclusively to children and young people. This role entails planned interventions and actions with each child’s mother and in conjunction with the family’s refuge case manager whilst liaising and networking with relevant agencies such as schools and children’s support services.

    Children’s workers aim to develop nurturing, positive relationships to assist each child to deal with their trauma-based responses.

    Whilst different to children’s counsellors, essential to this role is an understanding of the impact of trauma and disrupted attachment on children, and familiarity with therapeutic interventions which promote healing, emotional growth and the development of positive attitudes and life skills.

  • Intake and assessment

    Family violence intake and assessment workers are focused on ensuring clients have access to the assistance and information they need about the options and services available to them. Family violence intake and assesment workers respond to calls, referrals and other modes of contact from or related to perpetrators of family violence. These services aim to assess and manage family violence risk, including triaging clients and coordinating associated crisis responses.

    The nature, intensity and duration of the service response is tailored to the client’s risks and needs and may include one or a combination of the following:

    • information and advice (including to families, the community and other professionals)
    • risk and need assessments including assessments of motivation, capacity and readiness to engage with services in change focussed interventions
    • family safety contact
    • coordination of crisis responses
    • referral to appropriate services for further support

    Men’s behaviour change

    The purpose of Men's Behaviour Change programs is to hold men to account for their violence, challenge their use of violence and keep women and children safe by monitoring and responding to the risk such men present.

    Perpetrator case management

    Tailored responses to individual perpetrators which addresses complex needs such as alcohol or drug misuse, mental health, physical health and homelessness in order to increase the safety of victim survivors.

    There are dedicated Aboriginal and LGBTIQ roles as well as state-wide mainstream coverage. 

    Family safety contact

    Family safety contact workers will work with the perpetrator’s partner and family members, including children, if they are identified as being impacted by the perpetrator’s violence, for the purposes of risk assessment and management, information sharing and referrals.

  • Employed by many specialist family violence services, this role supports victim survivors in court settings by providing information, interim case management and emotional support.

    The role is responsible for conducting risk assessments and court safety planning, liaising with court officials including the Family Violence Registrar, Applicant Workers, Court Support workers, police prosecutors and duty lawyers, providing advocacy and support within the court system and referrals to other support services.

    An understanding of the Australian Law Court system with specific reference to the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia is essential.

  • Specialist family violence counsellors provide flexible, responsive counselling services to victim survivors.

    The role entails one-to-one counselling for short- to medium-term periods including intake and assessment and the development of appropriate therapeutic interventions with women.

    The ability to work collaboratively with a range of other practitioners and family violence specialists is essential.

    The therapeutic framework for family violence counselling currently preferences strengths based, solution focused and trauma informed approaches.

  • Counsellor Advocate, Sexually Abusive Behaviours Treatment Services

    This role primarily provides treatment to children and young people who have used problem sexual behaviours and/or sexually abusive behaviours, and their family and includes:

    • provision of therapeutic services and intervention to children and young people who engage in problematic or abusive sexualised behaviours
    • conducting assessments and facilitating trauma informed counselling and therapeutic group work
    • participating and leading early interventions and professional education and training
    • working therapeutically with the dynamics and effects of interpersonal trauma
    • providing therapeutic interventions aiming to help children/young people to make a positive adjustment to their behaviour.

    Counsellor Advocate, Sexual Assault Services

    This role primarily provides counselling and advocacy services to victim survivors of sexual assault and their support people and to children and young people who have used problem sexual behaviours and/or sexually abusive behaviours, and their family. The role includes:

    • providing counselling, advocacy & group work to victim-survivors of recent or past sexual assault
    • working within a trauma informed practice framework to provide a range of therapeutic, counselling and advocacy services
    • working with women, children, young people, men and people who identify as gender diverse who have experienced sexual assault
    • providing immediate crisis support to victim survivors of recent sexual assault
    • providing counselling support to supporting family members, partners or friends of victim survivors
    • providing secondary consultation to other workers involved in working with victim survivors of sexual assault
    • providing education and professional training to students, teachers, parents and community and professional groups to raise awareness of sexual assault.

Primary prevention roles

  • Primary prevention is about stopping family violence before it starts by addressing its root causes. Prevention workers contribute to broader social change that promotes healthy, respectful relationships and gender equality, and addresses other forms of discrimination so that we can prevent family violence.

    Primary prevention practitioners specialise in designing, implementing and monitoring prevention of family violence initiatives and policy across different settings.

    They undertake education, awareness raising and creative campaigns in schools, workplaces and in sports settings, develop healthy relationship, parenting and other programs for families and communities, contribute to policy and organisational change and advocate for wider social reform. Some specialise in this work, and others integrate prevention approaches as a part of their broader role.

    These practitioners may work in dedicated primary prevention or gender equality agencies or organisations but, for the most part, work within a range of settings including local government, community health, Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations and women’s health organisations.

    They are responsible for adopting a range of approaches to implement projects and programs and use a variety of actions including awareness raising, partnership development, community development, advocacy, structural and organisational development

    Examples of primary prevention workers include:

    • Senior Education and Engagement Practitioner
    • Gender Equality Coordinator
    • Prevention of Family Violence Team Leader
    • Primary Prevention of Violence against Women Policy Advisor
    • Education and Engagement Practitioner  
    • Health Promotion Officer
    • CALD Prevention Team Leader
    • Senior Program Officer
    • PVAW Co-ordinator
    • Manager, Gender Equity and Social Inclusion

Other types of roles

  • Trainers and educators with family violence experience are needed to teach accredited and non-accredited training to emerging and existing workforces who work both directly and indirectly with family violence.

  • Public policy, research and evaluation roles coordinate, direct and oversee the development of strategic policy, in order to deliver outcomes and benefits related to an organisation's strategic direction.

  • Corporate services and administration roles manage the operational and strategic business requirements of the organisation. They include professions in Human Resource Management, Accounting and Finance, Information and Communications Technology, Administration, Communications & Marketing and Monitoring and Audit.

  • Leadership and management roles in the family violence sector can include executive, senior management, program management and team leading positions. Some organisations could also include project or program coordination roles. Many leadership and management skills can be transferable from other sectors.

    ​Current senior leaders within the family violence, and broader community services, sector can apply to participate in a Leadership Intensive program, which brings together public sector thought leaders, academia and the specialist sectors and broader social service sector to enhance change management capabilities and strengthen established leadership qualities. The Leadership Intensive program is run by the Future Social Service Institute

Reviewed 01 June 2021