To make a real and tangible difference to the safety and wellbeing of victim survivors, the many agencies and services that interact with perpetrators need to work together as part of an integrated system with a shared understanding of purpose.
Every time a person who uses violence interacts with the service system, there is an opportunity to affect behaviour change and intervene.
Behaviour change is more likely to happen when the government, the broader service system, community and society are working together to prevent violence happening and intervene early when it does. This creates a web of accountability that:
- centres on victim survivors and keeps women and children safe
- stops perpetrators from committing further violence
- holds them to account
- keeps them in view
- supports them to change their behaviour and attitudes
...to increase the accountability of family violence perpetrators (we) must shift the burden away from victim survivors who have had to bear responsibility for action for far too long...
Web of accountability
The web of accountability includes the people, groups and services that must deliver mutually reinforcing messages & responses to achieve perpetrator accountability and keep victim survivors safe. The web includes three groups around the perpetrator:
- workforces providing a specialist response, core support or intervention (e.g. perpetrator interventions)
- workforces with opportunities to identify, respond & refer perpetrators (e.g. mental health services)
- community (e.g. sport clubs)
While much of the family violence system has a long-standing role of keeping perpetrators in view, fully establishing an effective web of accountability will take time. It requires continuing cultural change across the whole service system, to tilt the focus of reform to the perpetrator.
This ongoing shift will increasingly be reflected in our approach to reform delivery in areas such as:
- The Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management Framework (MARAM) and information sharing
- The Orange Door network
- Victoria Police operational reforms
- Justice and community-based perpetrator programs
- Dhelk Dja initiatives focused on people who use violence
- Central Information Point
- Specialist Family Violence Courts
Acknowledging Aboriginal terminology
‘People who use violence’ is the preferred term used by some Aboriginal people and communities, recognising that the term ‘perpetrator’ can create a barrier to engagement with people who use violence.
Aboriginal-led prevention and response work with people who use violence is guided by frameworks such as ‘Nargneit Birrang’, the Aboriginal holistic healing framework for family violence. These approaches acknowledge the impact of intergenerational trauma, colonisation and racism, and the need for healing to be incorporated into behaviour change programs.
In this video, Uncle talks about ways that people who are angry and frustrated can calm down when they feel overwhelmed: how to manage the build-up of tension and to think differently about triggers. Uncle also suggests ways that family members can help others to avoid explosive conflict.
Adolescents who use violence
Adolescent family violence is a distinct and complex form of family violence requiring a differentiated, whole of family response that is developed and trauma informed.
Information about how the family violence reform is responding to the needs of adolescents who use family violence, is discussed in the Children and Young People page of the Rolling Action Plan.
Progress since 2016
We have strengthened and broadened the intervention system, by working together with agencies and services that interact with perpetrators and people who use violence.
Developing a new approach to perpetrators
In 2016, the Expert Advisory Committee on Perpetrator Interventions (EACPI) was established in response to the Royal Commission into Family Violence. The EACPI was asked to consider how to increase the accountability of perpetrators and shift the burden away from victim survivors.
EACPI’s final report and recommendations are informing our whole-of-system approach to perpetrator accountability.
The key activities for perpetrators and people who use violence which have been delivered since the Royal Commission are grouped here into five areas.
Victoria Police plays a critical role in responding to family violence and has introduced initiatives to better equip the workforce to manage risk. This includes:
- enhanced risk assessment and management processes
- a specialist investigative response, including 31 Family Violence Investigation Units across the state to work with high risk family violence cases and improve the safety of victim survivors
- ongoing training, including delivering a purpose-built Family Violence Centre of Learning
The Family Violence Protection Act (Vic) 2008 has been amended to better hold perpetrators to account by significantly improving the system of Family Violence Safety Notices (FVSN) and Family Violence Intervention Orders (FVIO), and the response of the justice system to family violence more broadly to maximise the safety of victim survivors of family violence, including children.
The Court Mandated Counselling Order Program is an important mechanism for holding perpetrators to account. It provides more opportunities for group programs and more individual supports to address barriers to behaviour change.
There are a range of justice and community-based programs and activities that strengthen and broaden the intervention system.
Men’s behaviour change programs provide a forum for men to explore and challenge their beliefs, with the intent to initiate a change in behaviour and focus on making them accountable for their violence toward family members
In recognition that 'one-size-fits-all' men’s behaviour change programs are not effective for all perpetrators, Family Safety Victoria, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Justice and Community Safety and Court Services Victoria commissioned trial interventions.
The trials targeted specific cohorts including:
- people with Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) issues
- people who use violence in Aboriginal communities
- women who use force
- people from culturally diverse communities
- LGBTIQ+ people
- people with a cognitive impairment
These trials have been extended, and evaluation will assist us to develop and build programs that are most effective for perpetrators. For example, the 2020/21 State Budget committed $6.1 million over four years to continue the Caring Dads program.
The delivery of community-based perpetrator interventions in Victoria has expanded in recent years, beyond the provision of men’s behaviour change programs to include case management and targeted services for specific cohorts.
Other programs and initiatives that hold perpetrators accountable include:
- The continuation of expanded case management services for people who use violence with multiple and complex needs, including brokerage to provide practical supports that increase victim survivor safety ($4.6 million over four years has been committed in the 2020/21 State Budget to continue case management brokerage).
- Expansion of the Aboriginal men’s crisis service run by Dardi Munwurro. This service is jointly funded by Family Safety Victoria and the Department of Justice and Community Safety.
- The Brother to Brother hotline operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week and assists Aboriginal men who are struggling with relationships, family violence, and drug and alcohol issues.
- The Dardi Munwurro’s Ngarra Jarranounith Place program is a 16-week residential healing and men’s behaviour change program for Aboriginal men.
Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (FVISS)
Sharing information is critically important in effective risk assessment for victim survivors.
The FVISS is pivoting information sharing to the risk the perpetrator holds.
Under the FVISS, the most commonly shared information by Victoria Police are Family Violence Safety Notices and Intervention Orders, family violence history and criminal history.
This is improving the ability across multiple workforces (including Child Protection and The Orange Door network practitioners) to access critical information to inform risk assessment.
Central Information Point (CIP)
The CIP consolidates critical information about a perpetrator of family violence into a single report and provides a comprehensive view of perpetrator risk allowing for targeted safety planning.
The CIP is currently accessible to practitioners in The Orange Door network and its information helps practitioners to keep perpetrators in view, understand their risk of using violence, and engage them safely and appropriately.
Risk Assessment and Management Panels (RAMPs)
RAMPs improve the safety of victim survivors who are experiencing the most serious and imminent threat from family violence.
They bring together representatives from key agencies and organisations every month to facilitate the safety of victim survivors, and focus on perpetrators to prevent them from perpetrating harm and hold them accountable for their actions.
The Orange Door network
- The Orange Door network brings together practitioners from family violence (victim survivor and perpetrator) services and child and family services, to undertake risk and needs assessment and intervention planning that takes a whole of family approach.
- This supports the coordination of responses that helps to keep victim survivors safe, whilst working with the broader service system to hold perpetrators accountable for their actions and connect them to services that aim to change their behaviour.
Family Violence Jobs Portal
- Family Safety Victoria has worked in close partnership with sector partners to develop an attraction and recruitment campaign to help grow the family violence workforce.
- Launched in May 2020, the campaign promotes awareness of the sector and its values, the types of jobs that currently exist (including working with Aboriginal communities) and provides links to a dedicated recruitment website.
- Roles in perpetrator services and working with people who use violence (including intake and assessment, case management, behaviour change and family safety contact) are included in this campaign.
The necessary restrictions associated with the pandemic impacted the delivery of perpetrator programs and services, including men’s behaviour change program group work and face to face services.
In August 2020, the Victorian Government announced a package of more than $20 million to support the delivery of a range of family violence initiatives, that will strengthen perpetrator accountability and victim survivor safety and wellbeing.
Accommodation and support
- The COVID-19 package included funding for the Men’s Referral Service, provided by No To Violence, to deliver the Perpetrator Accommodation and Support Service.
- The service enables perpetrators or people who believe they are at risk of using violence to access short or longer-term accommodation, and support to change their behaviour.
- Funding has also supported men’s behaviour change programs and other perpetrator interventions, to deliver safe and effective perpetrator services during COVID-19.
- This includes case management to deliver a combination of small group work and one-on-one interventions by video or telephone.
Learnings from evaluations of these innovations will inform the future delivery of services for perpetrators and people who use violence.
- Community Correctional Services (CCS) in Corrections Victoria designed, developed and implemented a half-day workshop titled ‘Managing perpetrators of family violence (COVID-19)'.
- The workshop provides CCS staff training to support their engagement with perpetrators via remote service delivery with the overarching aim of promoting the safety of victim survivors.
- As of 16 October 2020, more than 500 CCS and Corrections Victoria staff have participated in a workshop.
- Respect Each Other: ‘Call It Out’ was launched in May 2020 in response to the increased pressure on families and indications of increasing emergency call outs related to incidences of family violence during COVID-19 related restrictions.
- The campaign and related work supports neighbours, communities, family members, housemates and friends to safely and constructively ‘call out’ violence as active bystanders when safe to do so.
- It provides clear advice on where and how to access help, highlight the behaviour of perpetrators and encourage those who may be at risk of using violence to seek help.
Delivery to 2023
We will work with our sector partners, to draw on the experiences of perpetrators and people who use violence, to progress these reform activities.
Responding to the vision and intent of the Expert Advisory Committee on Perpetrator Interventions (EACPI), activities are grouped under three themes for this work program over the next three years:
- Enhanced service responses
- Cultural safety and inclusion
Our program reflects both perpetrator-specific activity and broader actions across the reform that supports the aims of this priority.
1. Enhanced service responses
The service system will continue to be supported to respond, recover and learn from the impacts of the pandemic on the delivery of family violence services for perpetrators and people who use violence.
The future delivery of perpetrator programs and initiatives will be strengthened by the adapted service delivery models and practice approaches implemented in response to COVID-19.
Activities Identify learnings about service adaptations made in response to COVID-19, including through the Department of Health and Human Services rapid review of perpetrator interventions during COVID-19, to inform future service delivery approaches 2020-2021 FSV Support victim survivors to access justice and keep perpetrators in view during COVID-19, through operation of the Online Magistrates’ Court which hears family violence matters 2020-2021 CSV Identify learnings and opportunities from implementation of initiatives that support perpetrators and people who use violence to access crisis accommodation and short-term interventions 2020-2021 FSV Addressing the men’s behaviour change backlog in Community Corrections through a combination of men's behaviour change programs and one-on-one case management 2020-2021 DJCS Continue to deliver Operation Ribbon during the response to COVID-19 and the use of Specialist Family Violence Investigation Units to proactively monitor perpetrators associated with the highest risk victim survivors 2020-2023 Victoria Police
The justice system will intervene earlier to prevent an escalation in risk and help prevent further violence from occurring.
We will strengthen our legal response to hold perpetrators and people who use violence to account for their behaviour.
Activities Consider options to address perpetrators’ use of coercive control 2020-2021 DJCS
The court will establish Specialist Family Violence Courts at four further locations, Heidelberg, Frankston, Bendigo and Wyndham
The Specialist Family Violence Court at Wyndham is part of a new investment in Law Courts for Wyndham announced in the 2020/21 State Budget
2021 (Heidelberg and Frankston)
CSV Consolidate the use of the redeveloped Courts Mandated Counselling Order Program across the courts, including Specialist Family Violence Courts 2020-2021 CSV Evaluation of the implementation and effectiveness of the Koori Family Violence and Intervention Order Breaches pilot in Mildura 2020-2021 CSV Consider whether family violence should be incorporated as a sentencing factor in the Sentencing Act 1991 2020-2021 DJCS Expand ‘Tuning into Respectful Relationships’, a culturally inclusive program suitable for remand and short sentence prisoners, to seven additional prisons 2020-2022 DJCS Explore options for earlier access to therapeutic programs for justice clients, including culturally appropriate programs for Aboriginal people and people from culturally diverse backgrounds 2020-2022 DJCS Strengthen responses to perpetrators who commit multiple intervention order breaches 2020-2022 DJCS
Review and expand justice interventions for perpetrators of family violence, for whom a justice response is the only appropriate mechanism for managing risk 2020-2022 DJCS Ensure family violence offences are appropriately flagged on offenders’ criminal records and relevant IT systems 2020-2022 DJCS
We will deliver a suite of consistently delivered, evidence-based interventions to provide timely, accessible, culturally appropriate, holistic and flexible responses for perpetrators. Targeted programs with a more intensive duration and specialised approach will be available for specific cohorts.
Activities Develop a theory of change and monitoring and evaluation framework for perpetrator interventions, aligned to the Family Violence Outcomes Framework and the Dhelk Dja Monitoring, Evaluation and Accountability Plan 2020-2021 FSV Explore longer-term accommodation models for perpetrators and people who use violence, to keep them engaged and in view of the system, and support victim survivors to remain safely in their own homes and communities 2020-2021 FSV Explore and implement, where appropriate, peer facilitation models for perpetrator interventions
These models involve people who have completed a program being trained in delivering the program and can be an effective way of encouraging behaviour change, as participants relate to the lived experience of the facilitator
These models can also provide employment opportunities for disadvantaged people and communities
2020-2021 DJCS FSV Trial and evaluate a new perpetrator intervention program that addresses the complex interplay between family violence, alcohol and other drugs and/or mental health issues
The program will enable greater opportunity to tailor responses through integrated case management and counselling services for eligible court-mandated clients
2020-2022 CSV Apply lessons from the evaluations of cohort-specific interventions and the broader evidence base, to inform ongoing improvement and future design and delivery of interventions for perpetrators and people who use violence
This includes people with multiple and complex needs, Aboriginal communities, people from culturally diverse communities and people who are LGBTIQ+
2022-2023 FSV Continue Common Clients reform work
This reform recognises that many perpetrators of family violence may interact with multiple services across mental health, drug and alcohol, child protection and the criminal justice system
It involves greater integration of these services to ensure that people with multiple and complex needs are supported in a more holistic way to avoid duplication of service delivery and ensure that the breadth of a person’s needs are met
2. Cultural safety and inclusion
The Royal Commission into Family Violence recognised the disproportionate impact of family violence on Aboriginal people and communities, especially women and children (by both non-Aboriginal men and Aboriginal people), and the significant barriers Aboriginal people who experience or use violence face in accessing culturally safe and responsive services.
Aboriginal Victorians who use family violence will have access to services they consider to be safe, culturally appropriate and responsive. A culturally safe understanding of violence acknowledges Aboriginal communities’ experience of the devastating impacts and accumulation of trauma across generations as a result of colonisation, genocide, the violent dispossession of land, the displacement of men from their traditional roles, and the assimilation policy that resulted in the removal of children and subsequent transgenerational trauma.
Relationships between Aboriginal and mainstream organisations will be strengthened, with recognition of the role played by Aboriginal organisations in providing secondary consultations and culturally appropriate supports.
The vision and guiding principles of the Dhelk Dja Agreement and the Nargneit Birrang integrated principles for Aboriginal holistic healing will guide the work to strengthen Aboriginal cultural safety across Aboriginal and mainstream services. Implementing these agreements will support Aboriginal people who use violence to take control of their journey towards healing and accountability.
Activities Work with community to consider ways to document whole-of-family practice in working with people who use violence and develop holistic healing practice guidance and training for mainstream service providers, in line with Nargneit Birrang 2020-2022 FSV Deliver the Koori Cultural Safety Initiative, in collaboration with an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation, to support mainstream men’s behaviour change program providers to deliver culturally safe and appropriate programs to court-ordered Aboriginal people who use violence 2020-2021 CSV Revise and expand Koori Family Violence Police Protocols to provide statewide coverage 2020-2022 Victoria Police
Mainstream and cohort-specific services will apply an intersectional lens to perpetrator interventions. They will be supported with appropriate practice guidance.
Activities As part of risk management practice improvement, implement the perpetrator-focused MARAM practice guides for those who work with people who use violence
These guidelines support an intersectional, trauma-informed approach that responds to circumstances and needs to stabilise and increase motivation of perpetrators, building their capacity and readiness to change
2020-2022 FSV Implement the Everybody Matters: Inclusion and Equity Statement by developing the associated Inclusion and Equity blueprints, which will include perpetrator intervention activities 2020-2022 FSV Continue the Intersectionality Capability Building Project and the development of resources that support workforces to embed the intersectionality framework, ensuring that resources are applicable and appropriate to perpetrator responses 2020-2022 FSV
As we improve the collection, quality, use and analysis of data about perpetrators, we will strengthen our understanding about demand, perpetrator characteristics and service use. This will help us improve design and delivery of frontline services for perpetrators and people who use violence.
Through the refreshed perpetrator domain of the Family Violence Outcomes Framework, we will measure and monitor the impact of perpetrator interventions and the perpetrator accountability system.
Activities Develop outcome measures for the refreshed ‘perpetrator domain’ of the Family Violence Outcomes Framework 2020-2021 FSV Develop and implement the Family Violence and Sexual Assault Data Dictionary to establish data standards and improve data quality, including for key cohorts and diverse communities 2020-2021 FSV Deliver a meta-evaluation for perpetrator interventions 2020-2021 DJCS Build our understanding about perpetrator characteristics and service use by analysing existing data sources, and broadening the analysis with additional data sources, via the Family Violence Perpetrator Data Linkage Partnership Project 2020-2022 DPC
Develop and implement client outcomes measurement and monitoring for perpetrator interventions 2020-2022 FSV Continue to strengthen and mature the collection and analysis of client and service use data, including waiting list data 2020-2023 FSV
These activities will contribute to achieving the vision set out in Building from Strength: 10-Year Industry Plan for Family Violence Prevention and Response.
We will continue to build a skilled, culturally responsive and qualified workforce who actively contribute to an effective and cohesive web of accountability.
Activities Finalise and release the perpetrator focused MARAM practice guides, tools and training
These resources will include a focus on:
- trauma-informed practice
- working with fathers
- supporting culturally safe engagement
- risk factors and events that relate to a change or escalation in risk and situation and time-based actions required in response
- system-level protocols that reinforce the MARAM principles and pillars, and support practitioners to understand their MARAM responsibilities and what these mean for their day-to-day practice
Continued rollout of the attraction and recruitment campaign for specialist family violence and primary prevention roles, including professionals who work with perpetrators
This will include tailored messages and materials to attract students and graduates, people from Aboriginal, culturally diverse, LGBTIQ+ and rural and regional communities and people with disabilities
2020-2021 FSV Align policies, practice, job descriptions, minimum standards and guidelines for perpetrator interventions with perpetrator-focused MARAM practice guidance 2020-2022 FSV Develop and deliver accredited and non-accredited family violence prevention and response training to support the alignment of MARAM 2020-2022 DET
Implement mandatory minimum qualifications for specialist family violence practitioners, including men’s services (other than men’s behaviour change programs), with development and delivery of a vocational education and training Graduate Certificate in Family Violence as a minimum qualification option that provides training for working in the men’s services sector 2020-2022 FSV Explore opportunities to strengthen practice leadership to foster consistency, integration and safety in the delivery of perpetrator interventions, and enhance workforce capability across the sector 2020-2022 FSV
Relevant risk information will be systematically shared, collated and used to inform the planning and sequencing of justice and community-based interventions for perpetrators and people who use violence.
Phase Two of MARAM and the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (FVISS) equips more workforces with the right tools and information.
There will be established processes to support information flow and action in response to known scenarios that increase risk and/or provide opportunities for engagement, including perpetrator disengagement from services and release from prison.
Activities Perpetrator-focused MARAM practice guidance, tools and training to include time and situation-based actions required to respond to change/escalation in risk and opportunities to engage around behaviour change 2020-2021 FSV Identify barriers to risk coordination, local practices that are working well and opportunities to strengthen current approaches to improve perpetrator engagement and accountability 2020-2022 FSV Continue to embed the family violence and child information sharing and MARAM schemes, with a view to the rollout of Phase Two, to commence in April 2021 2020-2023 FSV
Connecting perpetrators and people who use violence across the reform
Activities in this priority area support, and are equally supported by, delivery more broadly across the family violence reform.
Activities to keep perpetrators accountable, connected and responsible for stopping their violence are informed by our reform-wide priorities of intersectionality, Aboriginal self-determination and lived experience.
The strategic priorities of the Everybody Matters: Inclusion and Equity Statement are being progressively applied across perpetrator interventions.
This will strengthen existing and emerging perpetrator interventions – in line with EACPI’s recommendations – so that they meet the needs of all perpetrators, including those from culturally diverse backgrounds, those with disabilities, and those from the LGBTIQ+ community. This aligns with EACPI’s findings that certain cohorts of perpetrators do not have access to appropriate services.
The Family Violence Multi Agency Risk Assessment and Management Framework (MARAM) and perpetrator-focused practice guides will address intersectionality and trauma-informed practice when responding to perpetrator risks and/or needs.
We are building an evidence base from our trials of new interventions to help us design and deliver tailored services for people who use violence who:
- are fathers / parents
- have alcohol and other substance abuse issues
- have a mental illness
- have cognitive impairment
- are women who use force
We are also building an evidence base from our trials of new interventions to help us design and deliver tailored services for people who use violence against:
- Aboriginal people and communities
- people from culturally diverse communities
- people who are LGBTIQ+
- older people
- people with a cognitive impairment or disability
Activities in this priority area which support delivery of the reform through an intersectional lens are reflected in the Progress since 2016 and Delivery to 2023 content on this page.
inTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence (inTouch) provide integrated, culturally responsive services to migrant and refugee communities.
inTouch is funded to deliver the Motivation for Change program, which supports men from migrant and refugee communities who use violence towards family members. This program includes intensive group work and one-on-one case management support for participants to learn ways to relate to people without using violence.
We will continue to support advancement of self-determination through partnerships with Aboriginal organisations and community in accordance with the vision and guiding principles of the Dhelk Dja Agreement and Nargneit Birrang.
Dhelk Dja is the only enduring Aboriginal-led strategy to address family violence in the country and consultations like this give Aboriginal People voice...
Activities relating to people who use violence and which support Aboriginal self-determination are reflected in the Progress since 2016 content and in the actions set out in Delivery to 2023 on this page
Strategic engagement is being strengthened at Family Safety Victoria to ensure the voices of lived experience and their experience of the service system are reflected in policy development and service design, including in the design and delivery of perpetrator programs and interventions.
The Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council is supporting development of the perpetrator work program, including the development of the Family Violence Outcomes Framework and theory of change for perpetrator accountability.
The Orange Door network statewide concept and service model has been designed using input from people with lived experience, including perpetrators and people who have used violence and have accessed behaviour change programs.
A data collection process to better understand and measure peoples’ experience has been introduced to collect feedback from all clients, including people who have used violence, to understand their experience of The Orange Door network.
Family Violence Outcomes Framework
The perpetrator domain of the Family Violence Outcomes Framework has been refreshed in 2020, to include a more holistic approach to perpetrator accountability and greater scope for therapeutic and non-punitive responses to perpetrators and people who use violence.
Delivering the activities for this priority area will likely have the greatest impact in achieving outcomes against the following domains:
Domains 2, 3 and 4
Royal Commission recommendations
The Victorian Government has committed to implement all 227 recommendations from the Royal Commission into Family Violence.
Of the recommendations still in progress, six relate to perpetrators and people who use violence.
Summary of activities to 2023
Reviewed 19 April 2021