Who is leading the change
- Family Safety Victoria
The Victorian Government include in the 10-year industry plan for family violence prevention and response a staged process for the introduction of mandatory qualifications for specialist family violence practitioners, so that no later than 31 December 2020 all funded services must require family violence practitioners to hold a social work or equivalent degree.
The Model for Implementation of mandatory minimum qualifications (the model) was endorsed in October 2018 and reflected in Strengthening the Foundations: First Rolling Action Plan 2019-2022. The model equips new practitioners with the skills and knowledge they need while recognising the significant value of professional experience, cultural knowledge and lived experience, and the need for flexible pathways into the specialist sector.
The model provides 3 pathways for any new specialist family violence practitioner seeking employment in a Victorian Government-funded service to be considered eligible for employment. All existing specialist family violence practitioners employed prior to the commencement of the transition period will be exempt from minimum qualification requirements for the length of their continuous service in a specialist family violence role – including when changing employers, or when taking carers’, parental or long service leave.
Family Safety Victoria has been working closely with the Industry Taskforce (the Taskforce), its Qualifications Sub-Group, and other governance bodies, including the Dhelk Dja Family Violence Partnership Forum, to develop a considered and culturally appropriate staged process for the introduction of mandatory qualifications for specialist family violence practitioners.
The family violence sector peak bodies have been consulted on the proposed implementation approach, which includes comprehensive communications and supports to assist the specialist family violence sector transition to mandatory minimum qualifications. Consultation with the sector will continue through the Qualifications Sub-Group and Dhelk Dja Partnership Forum Priority 3 Sub Working Group to ensure it is an industry-led approach.
The Centre for Workforce Excellence, with the Qualifications Sub-Group, is in the process of finalising the staged implementation approach, including considering the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes transition strategies for experienced workers without formal qualifications. The approach aims to mitigate any unintended or inequitable consequences for particular workforces and workers. The approach provides a range of supports for individuals and employers during the 5-year transition period, including:
- an organisational ‘tool kit’ to support individuals and employers in navigating minimum qualification requirements
- flexible grants to support the voluntary transition by existing workers who wish to gain a minimum qualification
- transition Support Officers to provide advice to the sector around the implementation of mandatory minimum qualifications and the use of voluntary transition support grants
- a communications strategy to raise the profile of the mandatory minimum qualifications requirements, featuring family violence sector leaders and practitioners.
Work is also underway to determine the fundamentals of the transition including:
- the development of principles to guide employers when determining if a qualification held by a candidate can be considered equivalent to a Bachelor of Social Work, and
- the development of a vocational education and training qualification that aligns to these principles, to support diverse pathways into family violence work
Once the approach has been finalised, Family Safety Victoria will seek approval of the approach from the Minister for Prevention of Family Violence, prior to commencing formal implementation.
In recognition of the ongoing impacts stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, implementation of the 5-year transition period for mandatory minimum qualifications will now commence on 1 July 2021, 6 months later than the original 31 December 2020 implementation date set out by the Royal Commission. This additional 6 months will ensure the sector is well prepared and supported for commencement of the transition, and has been endorsed by members of the Qualifications Sub-Group.
Forecast implementation date: 31 March 2021.
Reviewed 04 January 2021