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We all know that people from diverse communities have fundamentally different experiences of family violence. Those differences are often shaped by social attitudes, which in turn create structural barriers and long-term disadvantage and marginalisation including from the family violence service system.

Leah van Poppel, Co-Chair, Diverse Communities an Intersectionality Working Group
CEO, Women with Disabilities Victoria

Each person’s experience of family violence is different. Many Victorians face additional challenges and are at greater risk of violence, because of social structures of disadvantage that marginalise their cultural or social identity or their personal circumstances.

Adopting an intersectional approach allows us to consider the range of factors that can affect the risk, severity, frequency and diverse ways in which an individual might experience or perpetrate family violence.

For example, women with disabilities experience all kinds of violence at higher rates, at a higher severity and duration of abuse than women who do not have disabilities.

The Royal Commission into Family Violence recognised the additional barriers faced by people from diverse communities when seeking and obtaining help.

The Royal Commission called for more accessible, inclusive and non-discriminatory service provision, and an improved understanding of how family violence is experienced by people from diverse communities.

The Royal Commission identified the following diverse community groups:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
  • culturally and linguistically diverse communities
  • faith communities
  • lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) communities
  • people with a disability
  • people experiencing mental illness issues
  • older people
  • women in or exiting prison or forensic institutions
  • people working in the sex industry
  • rural, regional and remote communities
  • male victims
  • young people and young adults (12–25 years of age)

Since the Royal Commission report in 2016 and the subsequent launch of the Victorian Government's 10-year plan to end family violence, fundamental changes have been introduced. These are strengthening the system to ensure intersectionality is considered in designing and delivering the family violence system.

Everybody Matters: roadmap for a safe and inclusive family violence system

In 2019 the Victorian Government released the Everybody Matters: Inclusion and Equity Statement.

The statement sets out government’s 10-year vision for achieving a more inclusive, safe, responsive and accountable family violence system for all Victorians.

The vision is to build a system founded on inclusion and equity where people are supported to be safe and free from violence; a system that is accessible to them and responsive to their unique needs.

A service system where individuals can choose where they go to receive a service and know that they will always receive the right service for their needs.

Everybody Matters: Inclusion and Equity Statement

Everybody Matters recognises that a range of characteristics define both how people might experience family violence and differentiates their needs. These factors often overlap and compound the barriers to support and include:

  • age
  • gender
  • ability
  • sexuality
  • ethnicity
  • culture
  • religion

Everybody Matters: Inclusion and Equity Statement

The first Everybody Matters Inclusion and Equity Blueprint 2020-2022, due for release in late 2020, will outline the actions and initiatives that will be delivered to achieve the Everybody Matters Statement's 10-year vision of a more inclusive, safe, responsive and accountable family violence system for all Victorians.

In this video which was released in 2019, representatives from diverse community groups explain why the Everybody Matters: Inclusion and Equity Statement is so important.

Everybody Matters: Inclusion and Equity Statement

Embedding intersectionality

These are some examples of how we are applying an intersectional approach to building the new family violence system.

It is not a comprehensive list; further detail, activities and actions are reflected elsewhere on this page, and in the individual Rolling Action Plan priority areas.

  • 2018-2022: Respect Older People

    • Respect Older People: ‘Call it Out’ campaign to raise awareness around financial abuse and older people.
    Respect Older People: ‘Call it Out’ campaign

    2018-2020: Safer and Stronger Communities Pilot

    • $3.1 million project across five regions to pilot an integrated primary prevention model in migrant and refugee communities.
    • The pilot will be evaluated in 2021.
  • 2020-2022: The Rainbow Door

    • Online and phone support and entry point for LGBTIQ+ Victorians to access mental health and family violence services

      2020-2021: Statewide Women Exiting Prison Inclusion Advisor

      • Funding to build the capacity of specialist family violence services to better support and respond to the complex needs of women victim survivors exiting prison.

      2020-2022: Family Violence and Disability Practice Leader initiative

      • Three Family Violence and Disability Practice Leaders to:
        • increase the capacity of the specialist family violence and sexual assault support sector to work with adults, children and young people with disabilities
        • provide practice leadership, secondary consultation and expert advice
        • strengthen relationships, understanding and referrals between family violence and sexual assault specialist services and disability and NDIS providers

    People with disabilities

    The family violence reform is improving responses to the needs of children and families affected by disability.

    • Women with Disabilities Victoria

      In partnership with Women with Disabilities Victoria the reform is supporting several initiatives to improve family violence workforce capability to better support and respond to Victorians with disabilities who are experiencing family violence.

      Achievements include:

      • strengthening collaborative relationships across a range of universal and specialist services
      • a mapping and consultation report for the Victorian Government in consultation with 28 organisations on available training on family violence and disability: how disability was addressed in general family violence training and in safeguarding and abuse training

      The findings have been used to:

      • develop workforce capability resources and training to support responses for people with disabilities across the four workforce tiers that intersect with family violence
      • support other organisations to bring a gender and disability lens to family violence workforce initiatives and a gender and family violence lens to disability safeguarding and abuse training

      Women with Disabilities Victoria with Domestic Violence Victoria

      The 2 organisations are working together to pilot a new Statewide Disability Family Violence Inclusion Advisor position:

      • to improve the inclusion of people with a disability in family violence services
      • to build the capacity of the family violence sector to respond to people with disabilities
    • Domestic Violence Victoria and Centre for Excellence for Child and Family Welfare have been funded through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Workforce Development Steering Committee. The new context will mean:

      • an increased priority focus on the NDIS interface
      • development of resources to focus on building competency in working with people with disabilities and the NDIS interface, including practice guidance
    • Victoria is phasing out communal refuges for family violence victim survivors and building new independent units based on the contemporary 'core and cluster' model, giving residents greater privacy and independence while maintaining onsite support:

      • 17 refuges across Victoria are being redeveloped in line with the new model, and an additional 2 new Aboriginal-specific refuges will be built.
      • All refuges are scheduled to be completed by mid-2022.
      • One unit at each facility will be built to platinum Liveable Design Standards, maximising safety and accessibility for people with disabilities, and families with young children.
    • In December 2016 the Judicial College of Victoria published a Disability Bench Book:

      • It was developed with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.
      • Bench books are used as reference and educative tools by judicial officers within the legal sector.
      • The Disability Bench Book provides extensive practical tips to judicial officers about the adjustments that can be made in court proceedings for people with disabilities.

    People with disabilities and the Royal Commission into Family Violence

    There are 10 Royal Commission recommendations specific to the needs of people with disabilities who experience family violence. Three are still in progress.

    Culturally and linguistically diverse people

    People from migrant and refugee communities experiencing family violence face additional barriers that make it particularly difficult to identify their needs and for them to get appropriate, timely and culturally safe support.

    Residency status

    • they may be on a temporary visa
    • this can be weaponised by a perpetrator who might suggest they can’t leave or their visa will be cancelled

    Social isolation

    Social isolation can be an issue:

    • particularly when newly arrived and with no or low English language proficiency and limited understanding of Australian law and our human rights standards
    • these can be additional risk factors if appropriate supports in accessible languages are unavailable or inaccessible

    Actions since 2016 to support Victorians from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds include:

      • $9.2 million invested in specialist support programs to support people from multicultural communities experiencing family violence.
    • InTouch is a specialist support organisation for migrants and refugees:

      • funded to take a lead role in building the capacity of the specialist family violence sector to recognise and respond to people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities experiencing family violence
      • includes building workforce capacity through the development of specialist training
      • in partnership with InTouch, the Department of Health and Human Services has developed a Child Protection e-learning module on family violence in multicultural communities
      • Family Safety Victoria funded InTouch to strengthen family violence responses for people from multicultural communities at The Orange Door network
      • funding for trials of perpetrator interventions targeted to people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities
      • the trials have provided valuable information to inform future service system design

    Prevention and early intervention

    The 2020/2021 State Budget has provided $9.7 million over 4 years to support programs that strengthen the capacity of multicultural, faith and ethno-specific organisations to prevent family violence at its earliest stages.

    Multicultural communities and the Royal Commission into Family Violence

    Of the 227 recommendations from the Royal Commission, seven are specific to people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Three recommendations are still in progress:

    LGBTIQ+ people

    Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or gender diverse, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) people also experience violence in their relationships or from family members.

    During consultation for the Rolling Action Plan we heard from several LGBTIQ+ victim survivors of family violence about their experience. They told us that the family violence system needs to continue to address barriers to the identification of family violence, accessibility of services and the need for individualised responses.

    A 2014 report by the University of New South Wales, “Calling it what it really is”, found that:

    • 34.8% of all LGBTIQ+ participants reported that they had been abused sexually or physically by a previous partner
    • rates of sexual and physical abuse were higher (52.5%) for trans and gender diverse and intersex participants
    • only 12.9% made a report to the police and 31.3% never sought support, information or advice on the abuse
    • Rainbow Door is a free specialist LGBTIQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Gender Diverse, Intersex, Queer, Asexual, BrotherBoys, SisterGirls) helpline. It provides:

      • information, support, and referral to all LGBTIQ+ Victorians, their friends and family during coronavirus (COVID-19) and beyond
      • advice, referral and support from an experienced LGBTIQ+ peer
      • help for people to navigate the system to access the right supports
    • The Victorian Government requires all funded family violence services to achieve Rainbow Tick accreditation. The Rainbow Tick is a quality framework that helps organisations show that they are safe, inclusive and affirming services and employers for the LGBTIQ+ community.

      Family Safety Victoria have funded 26 service providers, including six Aboriginal services, to undertake accreditation. To date seven services have received accreditation.

      • Priority is given to providing funding support to at least one family violence service provider in each of the 17 Department of Health regions in Victoria.
      • All family violence service providers are encouraged to undertake the HOW2 “Rainbow Tick Ready” LGBTIQ inclusive practice training program.
    • A guide to primary prevention of family violence experienced by LGBTIQ+ communities was launched in June 2020.

      The Pride in Prevention Evidence Guide was produced by the LGBTIQ Family Violence Prevention Project 2019-2021, led by Rainbow Health Victoria and funded by the Office for Women in the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet.

      Pride in Prevention summarises the available evidence on the drivers of family violence experienced by LGBTIQ+ communities and provides recommendations for priority interventions.

      Pride in Prevention Guide

    • Family Safety Victoria has funded two LGBTIQ+ family violence positions:

      • a Statewide Inclusion Advisor based at Domestic Violence Victoria to build inclusion across the specialist family violence sector
      • an Aboriginal Rainbow Tick Project Worker, based at Elizabeth Morgan House, to support the six Aboriginal services funded to attain Rainbow Tick accreditation

      LGBTIQ+ Family Violence Capacity Building Initiative (Mid 2020-Mid 2022):

      • building the capacity of specialist family violence services and sexual assault support services to better support people from LGBTIQ+ communities

    LGBTIQ+ and the Royal Commission into Family Violence

    Of the 227 recommendations from the Royal Commission, four relate to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities. Three recommendations are still in progress:

    Older Victorians

    Elder abuse is any act which causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust, usually a family member. The abuse may be physical, social, financial, psychological and/or sexual and can include mistreatment and neglect.

    The Royal Commission into Family Violence also highlighted elder abuse as family violence, recognising the unique dynamics between the older person and a family member, and that it can include intimate-partner violence or intergenerational family violence (such as an adult child).

    Elder abuse is a significant, complex and sensitive community issue. Available evidence suggests that the causes of elder abuse may be gender inequality and ageism.

    Evidence about the prevalence of elder abuse is limited in Victoria, although international research suggests up to 14 per cent of older people experience elder abuse in a given year.

    Progress since 2016

    Reform actions relating to older people and family violence include:

      • A free confidential telephone helpline provided by Seniors Rights Victoria.
      • Providing referral and support services, including advocacy and legal advice about elder abuse.
      • The Integrated model of care for responding to suspected elder abuse initiative builds capacity to improve elder abuse prevention and response.
      • 5 health services lead the trial.
      • Components include: workforce training, counselling and mediation services (including financial counselling), liaison officers at health service sites and an Elder Abuse Prevention Network.
      • The implementation of the trial was evaluated and found that it was effective in supporting a service system response to elder abuse.
      • The 2020/21 State Budget included $1.9 million to continue the initiative in 2020-21 to help address elder abuse.
      • A specialist family violence counselling and mediation service to interface with The Orange Door network in 5 areas.
      • To work with older people and families at risk or experiencing elder abuse.

    Delivery to 2023

    The next phase of the Integrated Model of Care evaluation is underway. It will capture the client experience and inform future policy work and sustainable reforms.

    We will develop an Elder Abuse Statement across the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing, the Department of Justice and Community Safety, and Family Safety Victoria. The statement will:

    • set out the shared commitment to ending elder abuse in a family violence context
    • outline the partnerships and intersecting sectors that need to work together to support older people experiencing family violence
    • set the expectations for the family violence service system to support older people experiencing family violence, including the role of The Orange Door network

    Reviewed 28 April 2021

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