Delivering the reform for Victoria's diverse communities


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.

People with disabilities

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

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:

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

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:

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