Through 6 years of reform, Family Safety Victoria (FSV) has gathered a range of evidence and insights on engagement with lived experience over the first two phases of its work. This includes evidence from the Royal Commission into Family Violence, reports of the Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor and internal evaluation. This evidence provides a range of opportunities to strengthen the impact of engaging with lived experience.
To move towards phase three, FSV will build on this evidence by working on 4 strategic priority areas. The strategic priorities will see government work together with people with lived experience to fulfill the vision of shaping a system that meets the needs of the people that use it.
The priorities and actions below can be adapted and replicated by government departments, agencies and community sector organisations who are seeking to evolve their partnership with people with lived experience of family violence.
Investing in lived experience leadership
To transition to phase three, the priority is to expand the space for people with lived experience to increase opportunities for leadership and influence. Government also needs to apply the lessons from VSAC to engaging with other people with lived experience. This includes clarity on role and remuneration, as well as intentionally supporting professional development opportunities for people with lived experience.
To support this priority, FSV commits to:
- pilot and evaluate a shared decision-making model where people with lived experience and government staff co-design key organisational projects
- support people with lived experience mentor executives to create cultural change and bring a human face to policy and reform
- continuing to build opportunities for people with lived experience to co-produce new policies, services and strategies within teams in government
- support VSAC members to contribute to setting VSAC’s forward agenda, through an annual planning day to collectively develop priorities and present to senior executives
- support the leadership and skills of past members after the conclusion of their term, who choose to continue to contribute to the reforms, for example, through undertaking mentorship and casual engagement work.
VSAC will continue to play a critical role in the next phase of reforms. Its key role will continue to be providing collective advice to government decision makers on policy, law reform and service design priorities.
FSV commits to continuing to strengthen the VSAC model on an ongoing basis, including:
- ensuring a fair, transparent and consistent remuneration model
- providing further opportunities for documenting and learning from peer reflection
- processes for continuous improvement and ongoing evaluation against the principles outlined in this strategy, involving people with lived experience.
Engaging with a broader range of experiences
The service system needs to better understand and respond to the complexity and spectrum of family violence experienced and perpetrated by people with a diverse range of social characteristics. Given the significant reforms over past years, government also needs to engage with people with contemporary experience of the service system to create a responsive system.
To move towards phase three, government needs additional streamlined mechanisms to engage with a broad and diverse range of experiences to realise the vision of shaping a system for people who will use it.
To support this priority, FSV commits to:
- trialling a register of people with lived experience, providing opportunities for people with lived experience expertise to inform and participate in the design, implementation and evaluation of the family violence reforms, including clients of The Orange Door
- engaging with a broader range of people, including people from Aboriginal and diverse communities by working closely with specialist community organisations, and leaders with lived experience within those communities
- co-designing engagement methods, with people with lived experience on how to reach more diverse voices
- engaging with individuals with lived experience via current VSAC members’ networks, where applicable
- seeking opportunities to partner and collaborate with other lived experience initiatives within the community sector and across government.
Strengthening workforce capacity
Government staff have said they have limited expertise and confidence in engaging with people with lived experience and need clear guidance for the engagement process.
In transitioning to phase three, government needs to support staff to engage meaningfully and respectfully with people with lived experience of family violence. FSV has developed a workforce guidance pack that enables increased reflection, capability and confidence for government staff to embed lived experience and trauma-aware expertise into everyday work and support cultural change to deliver on the vision of the lived experience strategy.
To support this priority, FSV commits to:
- encouraging and supporting all government staff to utilise workforce guidance when designing and delivering engagement with people with lived experience, including engaging in critical reflection
- capacity building workshops for staff that are co-facilitated by lived experience representatives including sharing good practice examples, as well as the experiences of internal champions with expertise in this area
- one-on-one mentoring between people with lived experience and government staff to build engagement capacity for government staff.
Stewarding best practice for evolving lived experience work across government and sector
There are many organisations operating a range of initiatives to engage with people with lived experience in the family and sexual violence sectors. There is a need for development of best practice guidance and better collaboration and coordination across these programs. This includes a focus on making workplaces more inclusive and accessible to a diverse range of people who have lived experience.
FSV staff, particularly those with lived experience of family and sexual violence, have commented on the value that their experience and perspective brings to their role in delivering the family violence reforms while at the same time, seeking to avoid feelings of stigma or shame in being a victim survivor in their professional roles. Government acknowledges that the decision to disclose one’s lived experience is a highly personal one and is committed to supporting all staff with a lived experience of family and sexual violence. FSV will lead by example in acknowledging the lived experience in its own workforce.
To move towards phase three of this strategy, government, people with lived experience and sector would benefit from sharing lessons and practice expertise.
To support this priority, government commits to:
- hosting a Lived Experience forum, with contributions from VSAC, other survivor advocates and sector representatives, to showcase how to best engage and share lessons across sectors
- create a virtual space for mutual learning and knowledge transfer for attendees of the forum, co-designed with people with lived experience (please see the Lived Experience Showcase)
- a community of practice led within the community sector to showcase work in engaging with lived experience and share lessons
- ensuring that the perspectives of people with lived experience are ethically and safely embedded within government’s family violence research program, including as participants, and contributing to the design and delivery of research
- supporting the development of sustainable community led initiatives that engage with people with lived experience.
FSV will lead by example as an employer by:
- communicating that all people with lived experience, including employees and stakeholders, should feel safe and respected whether they choose to disclose
- increasing the visibility of lived experience expertise across government through including people with lived experience in communications and events.
The way forward
The Victorian Government looks ahead to a future where our collective vision is realised by working together towards achieving the actions outlined in our strategic priorities. Government will invest in the leadership of people with a lived experience through the co-design of the implementation of this strategy and embedding shared decision making throughout the implementation process. Together we will transform a system to meet the needs of the people who use it.