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.
Family Safety Victoria (FSV) has worked with a range of family violence and education sector stakeholders including peaks, providers, Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) and other government departments over the past four years to develop the model for implementation of Recommendation 209 and the Mandatory Minimum Qualifications policy.
From 1 July 2021, any new practitioner that will be providing direct specialist services to victim survivors and/or perpetrators, within an agency funded by the Victorian Government for the delivery of family violence services, will need to meet the Minimum Qualifications policy requirements 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 the 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.
Implementation of the policy will begin with a 5-year transition period, commencing on 1 July 2021 until 30 June 2026. The implementation model provides three pathways for any new specialist family violence practitioner seeking employment in a Victorian Government-funded service to be considered eligible for employment.
The policy requires that all new specialist family violence response practitioners hold a Bachelor of Social Work or equivalent degree. Seven equivalency principles have been developed, which demonstrate the key competencies required to work as a specialist family violence practitioner and are aligned with the Bachelor of Social Work. These seven principles ensure that there is sufficient flexibility to support recruiting and retaining a diverse family violence workforce.
The minimum qualification threshold will ensure that after the 5-year transition period all new specialist family violence practitioners will have a consistent baseline of knowledge, skills and competencies. The policy aims to:
- signal the level of expertise and knowledge required to undertake family violence work
- recognise the expertise already within the sector and support the retention of existing practitioners
- ensure that the family violence workforce is drawn from a range of disciplines
- support the supply of practitioners for the sector from all backgrounds
- recognise the role of employers as holding the expert voice on who is employed
- signal the value of lived experience and cultural expertise in the workforce.
FSV have worked closely with the Dhelk Dja Forum Priority 3 Sub-Working Group to identify impacts of the policy on the Aboriginal workforce. To ensure the policy and the implementation model support Aboriginal people who choose to work as specialist family violence practitioners in Victorian organisations from July 2021, the policy includes an ongoing employment pathway for candidates who bring significant cultural knowledge and experience and/or lived experience, and who have experienced barriers to formal education. Candidates on this pathway will be able to work towards meeting the minimum qualification requirements over a 10-year period. This ongoing employment pathway also supports individuals from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who bring significant cultural knowledge and expertise and have faced barriers to education.
FSV have also implemented and are developing a range of resources that will support the sector as they work towards aligning with the policy. These include:
- a funded Sector Development Advisor for Recommendation 209 at the peak body Domestic Violence Victoria , to support employers, existing practitioners, and prospective employees
- targeted funding to 78 organisations to support alignment with the policy requirements
- development and release of the Mandatory Minimum Qualifications Organisational Toolkit, to guide employers through translation of the policy into practice to support the recruitment and retention of new specialist family violence response practitioners
- liaising with Higher Education providers to support the translation of the Mandatory Minimum Qualifications policy, and to map education courses and training that is currently available against the equivalency principles
- policy implementation monitoring and gathering data and evidence on the progress of the five-year transition period, with a mid-transition period review. This will be supported by the establishment of a transition monitoring group to monitor implementation of the policy, with membership to include employers from across the specialist family violence sector
- development of a Graduate Certificate in Family Violence that will meet the equivalency principles, providing a Vocational Education and Training (VET) offering for those who do not wish to undertake a bachelor’s degree. FSV will work closely with the Aboriginal sector to ensure that Aboriginal cultural safety and self-determination is central to the design, implementation and delivery of the Graduate Certificate.
Reviewed 22 September 2021