Workforce Development

Strengthening the specialist family violence workforce

Building momentum

This work has come at a time of huge social change. People are looking for work that is purposeful and meaningful. They want to give back to their communities and we need to capitalise on this appetite for values-driven work.

Gabrielle Williams
Minister for Prevention of Family Violence
November 2019

Strengthening the capacity and capability of the people who work to prevent and respond to family violence is critical to the reform’s success.  We recognise that the specialist family violence and primary prevention workforces are distinct, each with a specific focus and expertise. Both are part of the broader family violence system we are building with the same shared goals.

We know that to deliver sustainable long-term reform we must develop the specialist family violence and prevention workforces and grow the family violence capabilities of the broader workforces that intersect with family violence, including:

  • community services
  • health
  • police
  • courts
  • education

Building strength into our specialist prevention and response workforces means recruiting people with skills from a diversity of backgrounds to give us a pipeline of dedicated and skilled professionals.

We have to provide clear career pathways that develop expertise and knowledge and where people feel valued and supported, so that they stay.

It also relies on creating a system where specialist family violence and primary prevention sectors can work effectively together with the broader social services workforces.

Building from Strength: 10-year Industry Plan for Family Violence Prevention and Response (Industry Plan) is the strategy that will deliver this vision: a family violence and primary prevention workforce that is valued, skilled, empowered and supported to prevent and respond to all forms of family violence.

The Industry Plan is organised around four priorities:

  • building prevention and response capability system wide
  • strengthening the specialist workforce
  • workforce health and wellbeing
  • building a system that works together

The Industry Plan is sequenced into a series of three rolling action plans.

The first rolling action plan, Strengthening the Foundations, was launched in November 2019.

Progress has been made in delivering the plan’s 61 actions. These achievements are reflected on this page alongside the key activities that will set the course of workforce development over the next three years.

Download the detailed plans:

Acknowledging the foundations

The strength of the family violence sector is undeniably its people.

We are fortunate in Victoria to have a strong base of highly skilled, dedicated and resilient family violence and primary prevention workforces who have worked tirelessly for decades helping to keep women and children in our communities safe.

The family violence sector and social workers with family violence expertise will continue to be in high demand: Victoria’s social economy is anticipated to create 60,000 new health and community services jobs in the next five years.1

1 Victoria's Social Economy: Social Opportunity, Economic Growth

As we continue to build capacity in the family violence system and develop training and career pathways, strong connections and partnerships between government and family violence prevention and response providers will be critical.

Their experience and expertise informed the long-term vision in the Industry Plan for the workforces that intersect with family violence.

In this whole-of-reform second rolling action plan we set out where government is leading workforce development initiatives and broader industry planning over the next three years and the key collaborations with the non-government sector. It is not a comprehensive summary of all workforce development activity that is happening in governments and agencies and across the sector more widely.

Progress since 2016

We are making significant progress towards creating the family violence specialist workforce and building the capability of the wider workforces that intersect with family violence.

It's like a new beginning really... for so long we were off to one side and not thought of as a legitimate part of family violence response. But it's exciting now that we're part of that multi-disciplinary team.

I actually enjoy taking a moment of time just to reflect on where we've come from. And that to me, as someone who's been in this sector for a long time, it's good for me to do that and go, 'hey, we have actually changed quite a bit already'.

No to Violence, Practice Development Manager
March 2016

Positioning family violence prevention, early intervention and response as a highly specialised employment sector with clear career pathways and professional development opportunities is critical to delivering the specialist workforce needed by the reform.

The key workforce development activities which have been delivered since the Royal Commission are grouped here into four areas.

  1. The new Family Violence Jobs Portal was launched in May 2020 on the Victorian Government online platform. It provides a single place to search for specialist family violence roles and employment opportunities in the broader intersecting workforce.

    The launch of the portal is supported by a recruitment campaign to attract job seekers and encourage them to consider family violence prevention and response as a career.

    'Thinking about a career change?' - promotional video for the Family Violence Jobs Portal
  2. The jobs portal is part of a broader strategy to build a pipeline of workers to meet demand at every level with a series of targeted initiatives to help fill critical gaps.

    • Fast Track Professional Development Program to increase the number of knowledgeable and skilled practitioners to take up senior level management and leadership positions in the specialist workforce and mid-level primary prevention roles.
    • Enhanced Pathways to Family Violence Work Project to host university students on placements in specialist family violence and non-specialist community service organisations.

    Enhanced Pathways has been positive in our area in drawing students via placement into staffing, in specialist services particularly.

    Senior family violence practitioner
    Rolling Action Plan consultation workshop
    August 2020

    CASE STUDY – Family Violence Case Manager

    • Amber obtained a work placement in family violence response with the Salvation Army as part of her social work degree.
    • The placement led directly to a job.
    • Amber is now employed by the Salvation Army as a family violence case manager.

    Family Violence Case Manager: Amber's story

    Opportunities for leadership development are also available for senior practitioners in the specialist workforce and in workforces which intersect with family violence.  

    The Leadership Intensive Series was developed with funding from the Industry Plan and delivered by the Future Social Service Institute.

    • It brings together public sector leaders, academia and the social service sector, and provides a platform for greater collaboration across the family violence service sector.
    • So far 15 programs have been delivered to 330 sector leaders.

    CASE STUDY – Senior Practice Adviser

    • Jaya is a Senior Practice Adviser with the national primary prevention not-for-profit Our Watch.
    • She reflects on how participation in the program encouraged her to think differently about leadership.

    Senior Practice Advisor: Jaya's story
  3. The reform is partnering with government and non-governmental organisations to deliver tailored accredited and non-accredited training to:

    • the specialist family violence workforce
    • the primary prevention workforce
    • broader workforces that intersect with family violence across Victoria

    New accredited courses for the broader workforce

    As we continue to roll out the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Framework (MARAM), we are providing change management support to train workers and build skills in family violence prevention.

    To date more than 23,000 professionals have been trained in Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Framework (MARAM) and information sharing.

    In partnership with the Department of Education and Training and relevant sector organisations, we have developed two new family violence accredited training courses.

    The courses include foundational family violence knowledge and cover MARAM responsibilities for screening and identification and brief and intermediate risk assessment and management.

    The courses are available to all workforces, regardless of their MARAM prescription. They are delivered through registered training organisations including dual-sector universities and TAFEs and supported by training resources developed by leading family violence and cross-sector experts.

    Training resources are and will be contextualised to a range of workforces including:

    • alcohol and drugs
    • disability
    • mental health
    • hairdressing
    • young people
    • and those supporting diverse communities

    You see the ripple effects in your community. It’s not a shame thing, it’s just to try to get those families the right support that they need and doing that in a safe environment without being judged.

    I want to make sure our mob get... supported all the way through… with the right avenues.

    Participant, Family Violence course
    TAFE Gippsland and Gippsland and East Aboriginal Co-Operative

    Through the VET Development Centre, the Department of Education and Training has delivered professional development to upskill trainers in MARAM and family violence training delivery. This includes building trainer knowledge and skills in working with Aboriginal communities and LGBTIQ+ groups.

    Regional capacity building

    Women's Health Services have been funded to deliver the Workforce Capacity Building prevention program to regional partners.

    In 2019 Women’s Health Services delivered training to 7,099 participants across Victoria.

    Modules include:

    • gender equity
    • bystander action
    • healthy masculinities
    • intersectional perspectives on family violence

    MARAM Collaborative Practice training

    Family Violence Regional Integration Committees are supporting delivery of MARAM Collaborative Practice training within their regions.

    This training supports local services to build a shared understanding of family violence and collaborate across agencies to respond to family violence risk.

    Hospital workforce

    The Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence project equipped frontline hospital staff with the skills to identify and respond to family violence.

    • Since the program commenced 66,162 staff have received training, equating to 57 per cent of the Victorian hospital workforce.
    • The program has been updated to align with the MARAM framework.

    Cross-sector training

    The Safer Families training program, run by Women’s Legal Service Victoria, is for lawyers working in community legal centres. The program:

    • builds the skills of community legal practitioners to deliver family violence legal assistance
    • enhances lawyers’ capacity to assist with broader family violence legal needs
    • reduces risk and prevents escalation and complexity of legal issues

    Family Safety Victoria has also funded Women’s Legal Service Victoria to deliver their Critical Legal Issues Map training for specialist family violence practitioners.

    Developed in collaboration with the sector:

    • the training and resources support early identification of legal needs so practitioners can make effective referrals for clients
    • the course aims to reduce risk, prevent escalation and complexity of legal issues and reduce trauma for those experiencing family violence

    Public service workforce family violence training

    The Department of Justice and Community Safety has developed and delivered Foundational Family Violence Training to more than 3,000 staff. Training continues to be delivered remotely in 2020, ensuring:

    • participants can confidently recognise, respond to, and refer cases of family violence
    • best practice advice is provided on how to respond as a bystander to sexist language, harassment and gender inequality

    Training materials from this course are being shared with other departments to improve whole of Victorian Government training for staff on family violence response.

  4. Within the space of a few weeks over March and April almost the entire family violence workforce adjusted to online and remote service delivery and working from home.

    Family Safety Victoria worked with the peak family violence organisations Domestic Violence Victoria, No to Violence and SASVic (previously Victorian Centres Against Sexual Assault Forum) to support the transition, convening a series of COVID-19 and family violence online forums focused on:

    • enabling service continuity
    • workforce requirements
    • managing occupational health and safety

    Family Safety Victoria developed additional COVID-19 response resources to support the workforce, including updated MARAM practice notes and guidance.


    Remote technology meant that workshops and training could continue to be delivered during COVID-19. The shift to online delivery for most courses has allowed those living in regional and remote areas of Victoria to access professional development opportunities as readily as the rest of the workforce.

    Our family services and specialist family violence services have come together to collaborate much more during COVID-19.

    Senior family violence practitioner
    Rolling Action Plan consultation workshop
    August 2020

Delivery to 2023

    This high-level overview of the main workforce development activities for the next three years focuses on highlighting key actions from the first rolling action plan, Strengthening the Foundations.

    Additional workforce development activity supporting the reform is reflected in the web pages for each priority and in the page showcasing Victoria Police reform delivery.

    This overview of our planned workforce development activities to 2023 is grouped into three areas.

      1. Activities
        Accredited family violence prevention and response courses for the specialist family violence workforce and broader workforces that intersect with family violence:
        • Intermediate Risk Assessment and Management of Family Violence Risk (22651VIC) will be ready for delivery in 2021
        • Comprehensive Risk Assessment and Management course to be developed
        • Primary Prevention Contributors and Practitioners courses to be developed
        July 2020-2022 DET FSV

        Fast Track Professional Development Program to support the rapid development of practitioners in prevention and response roles:
        • Early 2021 - delivery of first round of prevention and response programs
        • Mid-late 2021 - delivery of second round of prevention and response programs
        • Mid 2022 - delivery of third round of prevention and response programs, and program complete
        2021-2022 FSV
        Building the family violence and sexual assault support workforce by accelerating training pathways

        $8.1 million over three years will support coordination of up to 240 traineeships across the state

        2020-2023 FSV
        Minimum qualifications introduced for the Specialist Family Violence Response workforce:
        • Begin 5-year transition period for existing specialist family violence workforce to upskill where required
        • Support officers and grants available to support transition
        • Pathway Graduate Certificate course developed to provide a training-based pathway to minimum qualifications with delivery to commence in 2022
        2021-2025 FSV
      2. We are creating an evidence base that will:

        • inform how we build workforce capability
        • ensure training is fit for purpose and accessible
        • support recruitment and retention of a diverse workforce that is representative of our community

        We will evaluate and monitor Strengthening the Foundations by focusing on long-term prevention and response capability and capacity across a strong and connected system where activities are driven by the needs of the workforce.

        The implementation of minimum qualifications for specialist response practitioners is an example of how we are considering the needs of the workforce as we transition to a new, more professional structure.

        • We will have supports for existing employers and workers.
        • There are grants available for upskilling and a 5-year transition period.
        • The model has been designed in collaboration with industry.

        Further activities that will support evidence-based decision-making include:

        Analysis of 2019 Workforces Census
        • 2020 - Publication of census findings for primary prevention workforce
        • 2021 - Publication of census findings for specialist and broader workforces
        Current-Early 2021 FSV
        Deliver a new Best Practice Education model that:
        • provides an evidence-base to inform the delivery of high-quality family violence accredited training
        • supports expert-informed high-quality and safe training practices
        • provides professional development for existing trainers
        • supports the growth in supply of trainers across the TAFE system
        • developed in collaboration with the family violence sector and Aboriginal workforce experts, ensuring Aboriginal cultural safety and contemporary family violence expertise sits at the heart of accredited family violence training
        2020-2021 DET
        Job Role Design
        • undertake research in job role design in the specialist sectors
        • develop options for current and future system requirements

        The research may inform a range of products that support future specialist family violence job-role enhancements

        Insights will be critical to informing innovative approaches to organisational performance in the specialist family violence sector, potentially providing the basis for:

        • workforce planning
        • organisation design
        • health, safety and wellbeing
        • career and succession planning
        2020-2021 FSV
      3. The people who work in the specialist response and primary prevention sectors are our most valuable assets in building a future where all Victorians can live free from violence.

        We recognise that although the work is fulfilling and rewarding it can also be stressful, emotional and fatiguing. The pressures of working remotely during COVID-19 and increased complexity of cases has impacted the workforce.

        Prioritise the health, safety and wellbeing of the workforce and develop the Family Violence Health, Safety and Wellbeing program

        This program is for specialist family violence organisations to provide positive and supportive work environments
        Mid 2021 FSV

        Our proactive approach for the next few years will be supported by several priority actions:

        • research into best-practice clinical supervision models
        • online health, safety and wellbeing resources for workers
        • peer support strategies to better connect and support workers
        • workplace strategies for the broader workforces that intersect with family violence

      Connecting workforce development across the reform

      The ongoing delivery of connected reform activity further strengthens the broader workforces that intersect with family violence. For example:


      • The continued rollout of MARAM with Phase Two commencing in 2021 to a further 5,855 organisations and services across the health and education sectors.

      Victoria Police

      • Victoria Police delivery of family violence training statewide to officers at every rank through the establishment of Family Violence Centre of Learning, a purpose-built facility at the police academy in Glen Waverley.

      Reform-wide priorities

      Activities to strengthen the family violence workforce have been designed from the outset to consider intersectionality, Aboriginal self-determination and lived experience.

      The MARAM principles provide professionals and services across different workforces with a shared understanding of family violence and facilitate consistent, effective and safe responses for people experiencing family violence.


      Strengthening the Foundations

      The first of the industry rolling action plans was developed with a gendered and intersectional lens to embed intersectionality in workforce development.

      Under Action 3.8 of Strengthening the Foundations, we are reducing workforce entry barriers to increase workforce diversity, working towards achieving a workforce that reflects the community.

      Intersectionality Capacity Building Project

      This project supports organisations to embed an intersectionality framework and recruit and develop an inclusive, diverse workforce. It is:

      • funded through the Industry Plan
      • an action in Everybody Matters: Inclusion and Equity Statement,which outlines the 10-year vision for a more inclusive, safe, responsive and accountable family violence system

      The government’s reform delivery is providing funding to the specialist family violence and broader sectors to embed an intersectional approach into their service delivery. For example:

      • No to Violence is Australia’s largest peak body for organisations and individuals who work with men to end family violence.

        • Project funding from the Department of Education and Training through the Workforce Training Innovation Fund to develop new practice frameworks by the end of 2020.
        • Delivering content and online learning opportunities to better equip the family violence workforce with the skills and knowledge to apply an intersectional approach in their service delivery.
        • Funding from the Department of Health and Human Services to design and deliver a training program for the Department’s disability workforce to recognise and respond to family violence.
        • Significant work to prevent violence against immigrant and refugee women.
        • Provided cross-cultural and intersectional training for the family violence prevention workforce and access to multilingual communities.

      Intersectionality Overview

      Aboriginal self-determination

      Future workforce activities will be guided by the forthcoming Aboriginal Family Violence Industry Strategy which is being developed through the Dhelk Dja Partnership Forum.

      Aboriginal Self-Determination Overview

      Lived experience

      Lived experience is central to the design and delivery of training initiatives and pathways to minimum qualifications for family violence practitioners. It informs the family violence workforce reform through the Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council’s representation on Family Safety Victoria advisory bodies.

      Lived Experience Overview

      Measuring outcomes

      Family Violence Outcomes Framework

      Delivering the activities for this priority area will likely have the greatest impact in achieving outcomes against the following domain:

      Domain 4

      Domain 4, Preventing and responding to family violence is systemic and enduring
      Domain 4
      Download Domain 4

      Reviewed 09 December 2020