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Support service providers to phase out the communal refuge model

Recommendation:
015
Status:
In progress

Who is leading the change

  • Family Safety Victoria

The Victorian Government support service providers in phasing out the communal refuge model and replacing it with accommodation that promotes safety, is accessible to people with disabilities, provides private units and enables connections with the community, work and school (core and cluster model). To facilitate the transition, the Victorian Government should provide a capital fund to assist service providers with business case development, design options and implementation (including construction of redesigned accommodation) and fund interim arrangements to avoid loss in service delivery during refurbishment or redevelopment.

  • We are redeveloping 17 Director of Housing owned family violence refuges and constructing two new refuges specifically for Aboriginal victim survivors of family violence.

    Site selection for the new core and cluster facilities is based on a range of criteria to support safety, accessibility and connection to community. Family Safety Victoria is working closely with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Asset Management Branch, DHHS local area offices and the refuge service provider to select the most appropriate site for future refuges. Sites are considered against the following criteria:

    • Privacy and safety of the surrounding environment
    • Proximity to amenities and services including public transport, schools and childcare options, and universal services such as health services
    • Size and capacity to accommodate up to 6 independent dwellings, outdoor areas and staff facilities

    Standard design requirements have been developed to ensure consistency across all new core and cluster refuges.  These articulate the building features, standard inclusions and accessibility requirements that apply across all new developments. A consistent project delivery methodology is also in place which includes key phases of land acquisition, procurement of contracted services, user consultation, construction, building handover and transition to service.

    Site locations are also selected to be in high demand areas to ensure victim survivors can access the support they need. The facilities promote safety and are accessible to people with disabilities as well as providing connections to community, school and work.

    The 2019-20 State Budget provided funding to agencies to support refuges to:

    • Provide 24-hour operations at recently redeveloped refuges and support additional households in the new core and cluster facilities
    • Support agencies to respond to children and young people in refuge
    • Provide more intensive and holistic support to clients including complex clients where they may previously have been excluded from communal refuges due to the complexities of communal living models.

    Completion of the project will increase the number of households that can be accommodated in Director of Housing owned refuges by approximately 50% from around 105 to around 160 households.

  • To date:

    Four new refuges were completed in late 2019 and have commenced service from the new facilities.

    • Land has been secured for a further 13 sites with works in progress across the various stages of design, planning and construction.
    • Land searches continue for the remaining 2 sites.
    • A state-wide project control group and local user groups with sector representatives was established to oversee this work and they continue to meet regularly to oversee progress and manage any developing risks or issues.

    Interim support is in place to support agencies to adopt the ‘core and cluster’ model and ensure service continuity during the development of new refuges. All refuge sites except one are new sites, allowing services to be maintained at previous sites during development.

    Family Safety Victoria is working in partnership with Domestic Violence Victoria to develop The Specialist Family Violence Service Model (program requirements)that supports service delivery and operation of the core and cluster refuge facilities. This work is progressing well and is due for completion by mid 2021. 

    Additional funding of $10 million has been allocated to fast track delivery of the core and cluster refuges and upgrade existing crisis accommodation facilities as part of the Victorian Government Building Works package announced in May 2020.

    The 2020-21 State Budget provided $18 million over two years provides operational funding to enable the redeveloped refuges to operate at full capacity.

  • Forecast implementation date: 31 December 2020.

Reviewed 06 January 2021

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