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Edition 2

Who we are

The Department of Premier and Cabinet has established the Family Violence and Service Delivery Reform Unit to lead and coordinate the whole-of-government state response to the Royal Commission into Family Violence. Victim survivors remain at the heart of these reforms.

The unit is leading the approach to system and social change, coordinating across government and key agencies the response to the Royal Commission's 227 recommendations.

Who is inspiring change

People of influence

Kristy McKellar

Kristy McKellarAt the Women's Agenda Leadership Awards, Kristy McKellar, VSAC member, was named 2016 Agenda Setter of the year for her dedication and ongoing work as a family violence and social change advocate. Kirsty was also named as one of Australia's top 100 most influential women in the Westpac national awards in the social enterprise category. Kirsty's achievements ensure that family violence is being championed on a national level.

Kristy has also worked with the Male Champions of Change influencing corporate policy, processes and practical outcomes and increasing their understanding that family violence is a workplace issue and in collaboration with specific corporations will focus on analysing culture and equality issues.

Kristy is also developing and forming the first Victorian local government council led survivor advisory group in Cardinia Shire so survivors can shape the future direction of their own community response and service system and be heard - this will aim to be a blueprint for other local governments.

Maria Katsonis

Maria KatsonisMaria Katsonis, DPC executive and lead writer of the Family Violence Action Plan, was also among the country's top 100 influencers in the diversity category.



People challenging the norm

Tarang Chawla

Tarang ChawlaTarang Chawla VSAC member and advocate has created a social media video called Real Man, which asks men to question what kind of men they are and think about what kind of man they would like to be.

Nikita Chawla: Loss of a daughter haunts a grief-stricken family Source: The Sydney Morning Herald, 7 July 2015.

People taking a stand

Fiona McCormack

Fiona McCormackFiona McCormack, Family Violence Steering Committee Chair and Domestic Violence Victoria CEO, highlighted the need for TV producers to realise their power and influence when it comes to setting the standards of treatment for women on TV.

'You come get on your knees': Sam Newman's sexist on-air on comments towards AFL Footy Show host Rebecca Maddern are 'workplace harassment' Source: Daily Mail Australia, 24 September 2016.

People with a vision

Co-design engagement activity for family violence

More than 600 Victorians across the state have taken part in a Victorian-wide co-design engagement activity for family violence.

A series of community conversations in regional and metropolitan Victoria focused on how Victoria can better prevent and respond to family violence and develop a shared vision.

The results from these conversations have been insightful, powerful and informative, and the voices of victim survivors have been shared and heard.

The Aboriginal Co-design forum in Bendigo also focused on building on a vision for a future family violence system.

Discussions focused on creating an overall vision for reform that:

  • builds on the principles and successes of the Indigenous Family Violence 10 Year Plan
  • balances a gendered approach with a culturally-informed holistic and whole-of-family approach
  • focuses on perpetrator accountability without increasing Aboriginal representation in the criminal justice system
  • meets and safeguards the needs of all diverse groups
  • calls on all Victorians to take responsibility for ending family violence.

These insights will be developed into a high-level vision for Victoria's future family violence system.

Watch Family violence community conversations video:

What's been happening

Commjunity co-design workshops

The government has held a series of co-design workshops to start the design a statewide model for Support and Safety Hubs, which was a new service concept defined by the Royal Commission into Family Violence report.

While there were some recommendations about the establishment, operation and functions of the hubs, there was a lot of scope for Victorians to shape the design of services.

The government engaged Victorians to help build a statewide concept and determine how the hubs should take form: a physical building, a digital portal or both?; visible and obvious or discreet?

Victoria's experts, victim survivors and the broader community took part to help solve some of these fundamental questions.

Community Co-design workshops were held across Victoria, in Geelong, Pakenham Horsham, Swan Hill, Shepparton, Sale and Craigieburn from 13–21 October.

Mapping victim survivors' experiences and insights of family violence

Commjunity co-design workshops

The Department of Premier and Cabinet has engaged Huddle Australia to work with victim survivors to understand their experiences and their vision for the future.

Twenty-three people took part during three workshops and six individual interviews.

Workshops were co-designed with sector organisations and peak bodies to ensure the needs of diverse communities were met, and victim survivors were supported.

Three VSAC members provided advice on the design of the workshops. All of them participated in the activities themselves to share their insights and provide feedback to help refine the approach.

Co-designing the workshops with the sector and peak bodies was critical for this work. We would like to acknowledge the advice and guidance of the Family Violence Steering Committee and thank expert agencies involved: Aboriginal Family Violence Legal Prevention Centre, InTouch, Drummond Street, Senior Rights Victoria and VSAC.

In the workshops, participants were able to share their insights using the approach of their choice by either telling their story verbally or drawing. A range of activities were used to allow participants to focus on both their own experiences and their vision for a future state system.

To be able to build and continually develop this approach, these organisations will be invited to attend a review session to reflect and capture key learnings.

All of the data from the workshops is being synthesised to provide an experience of translating raw data into rich insights.

Some of the early Insights from experience mapping workshops

"Don't perpetuate power and control when you help me. That's already been my world."

"Don't walk in front of me or behind me; walk by my side."

"Victims and survivors are stronger together."

'Engine room' wrap-up

Victim Survivors Advisory Council (VSAC)

VSAC meets once a month and membership includes representatives from the Aboriginal community, CALD communities, women with disabilities as well as younger and older Victorians.

VSAC has met twice and is working closely with the government to help create more effective engagement on a range of activities, including:

  • Aboriginal Co-design forum
  • providing an advisory role through the mapping insights work
  • attending the Australian Women Against Violence Alliance Forum
  • Melbourne Statewide Family Violence community conversations
  • representing at the Social Services Taskforce and Chief Magistrates Taskforce
  • various meetings on the DJR review of Specialist Family Violence Courts
  • representing at the Diverse Communities and Intersectionality working group
  • providing advice and input into the Family Violence Action plan.

Family Violence Steering Committee update

The Family Violence Steering Committee comprises 32 experts from across the family violence sector and is co-chaired by Fiona McCormack, CEO Domestic Violence Victoria. It is the primary source of advice and leadership on the family violence reform agenda.

The committee was briefed at its meeting on 6 September by Tim Cartwright, the newly appointed Family Violence Implementation Monitor.

At its recent meeting on 6 October, the committee was briefed to provide advice and guidance for the 10-year plan, on the family violence community conversations to develop a high-level vision and community co-design hubs workshops.

DJR informed members about the work being undertaken to introduce legislative changes to the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (the Act).

The proposed amendments to the Act will address 11.5 recommendations from the Royal Commission relating to improvements in Family Violence Intervention Orders and Family Violence Safety Notices. The amendments will also improve the criminal justice system's response to family violence.

The department has initiated consultation with the briefing of the Family Violence Steering Committee. The Chief Magistrate's Family Violence Taskforce and VSAC will also be briefed on the legislative changes. Further to this, the department will circulate a consultation paper to key stakeholders to seek their specific view on proposed responses.

Once responses are received and analysed, it is the department's intention to conduct further briefings with stakeholders.

Social Services Taskforce

On 19 September, the inaugural meeting of the Social Services Taskforce was held, chaired by the Special Minister of State, and attended by a cross-section of ministers and sector representatives. The taskforce has been established to consider matters related to systemic approaches to meeting the needs of people experiencing or at risk of family violence and other social services needs.

The taskforce, which will meet monthly, will be a key part in implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence and other major social policy reform initiatives.

Family Violence Housing Assistance Implementation Taskforce

On 18 August, the Family Violence Housing Assistance Implementation Taskforce (Taskforce) met and agreed on its work plan to July 2017, and established three working groups on evidence, housing supply, and support services. The working groups are comprised of Taskforce members, DHHS and DPC officials, and selected community services sector, academic and victim–survivor contributors.

Since then, each working group has met once to progress its specific work-stream, in line with the Royal Commission's recommendations and the taskforce's terms of reference.


The role of the Evidence working group is to monitor, evaluate and report back on the rollout of family violence and housing related initiatives and maximise future investment and programs making a difference.

The Evidence working group will commission an evaluation of the $152 million initial housing blitz announced in April 2016, comprising new and upgraded crisis accommodation, redevelopment of refuges, new social housing and head-leased properties, support for people to access private rental housing and flexible support packages.

Housing supply

The Housing Supply working group will determine the number of additional social housing units required for people who are unable to gain access to and sustain private rental accommodation, including a specific focus on family violence victims.

This working group is commissioning a short statistical report on the estimated shortage of long-term social housing in Victoria. It will also commission the development of a more sophisticated long-term housing demand and supply model.

Support services

The Support Services working group will oversee the implementation of stronger models to prevent homelessness, including the delivery of Safe at Home approaches. It will also design, oversee and monitor the first 18-month phase of the proposed expanded Family Violence Flexible Support Packages.

Subject to evaluation of the proposed expanded Family Violence Flexible Support Packages, the working group will also plan for the statewide rollout of the packages (including rental subsidies) and the social housing required.

For more information on the taskforce and its work, please email: FVHT@dhhs.vic.gov.au.

Aboriginal Co-design forums

Four Aboriginal Family Violence Co-Design forums have been held in Victoria since July.

These forums are a partnership with Aboriginal people and communities in developing and implementing the Royal Commission recommendations for family violence reforms.

On the 14 September, the Aboriginal Co-design forum was held in Bendigo and focused on building on a vision for a future family violence system. This forum was similar in the application and style of the family violence community conversations held across the state.

On 20 October, the fourth co-design form was held at Melbourne Zoo and included a series of workshops on the Strategy for the Prevention of Family Violence, Vision for the Victorian 10 year Plan for Reform and a workshop to inform services approach and cultural considerations for Support and Safety Hubs.

What's new

Diverse Communities and Intersectionality Working Group

The Diverse Communities and Intersectionality Working Group provides guidance and expert advice on intersectional needs of diverse community groups across the spectrum of family violence and social service reform; and supports government to embed an understanding and responsiveness to diverse communities in the design and accessibility of family violence and social service reform.

The DCI Working Group's inaugural meeting was held on 27 September. Working Group members were drawn from across sector and government and represent a range of communities, including Aboriginal, LGBTI, rural and regional and diverse cultural, linguistic and faith communities, as well as younger and older victims, women with disabilities, women in prison, women in the sex industry and male victims.

The Diverse Communities and Intersectionality Working Group met for the second time this week. The meeting focused on discussion on the Designing for Diversity and Inclusion Framework and providing input into the 10 Year Plan, Prevention Strategy and the Support and Safety Hubs. The next meeting is scheduled for mid-November 2016.

Workforce Census

The government will begin a census in late October, across a range workforces that have role in preventing, identifying and responding to family violence, ranging from specialist family violence services through to universal services.

Strong participation in the census will help the government address industry planning challenges highlighted by the Royal Commission and enable a more systematic process to workforce planning and development.

As well as collecting demographic and occupational information, the census will collect information relating to access to professional development, cultural safety, inclusive practice, diversity in the workforce, health and wellbeing and career aspirations.

The census will be conducted in stages, with the first stage focused on the specialist workforces. Data shared with family violence sector to assist with future workforce planning and development.

Roadmap for Reform Working Groups Announced

The Victorian Government recently appointed representatives from the community sector, academia, unions and government to three working groups that will report to the Roadmap Implementation Ministerial Advisory Group: Universal Services Working Group, Out-of-Home Care Working Group, and Learning System and Practice Implementation Group.

The working groups will assist the Roadmap Implementation Ministerial Advisory Group to deliver on the Roadmap agenda by progressing and overseeing co-design, as well as supporting collaboration and engagement across the families and children sector and other related areas of expertise.

The Universal Services Working Group will be co-chaired by Rob Spence, CEO of the Municipal Association of Victoria, and Emma King, the CEO of the Victorian Council of Social Services. The group's immediate priority will be to oversee the Intensive Support in Early Years Project.

The Out-of-Home Care Working Group will be will be co-chaired by Paul McDonald, CEO, Anglicare Victoria and Lisa Griffiths, CEO of OzChild. The immediate priority for this group will be to oversee a program of co-design, including the development of a new intensive support model for residential care.

The Learning System and Practice Implementation Group will be co-chaired by Professor Frank Oberklaid, Director, Centre for Community and Child Health and Deb Tsorbaris, CEO, Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare. The immediate priorities for this group will be the release of a menu of evidence-based practices and programs and overseeing the development of a Children and Families Research Strategy.

A complete list of each working group's membership can be found at strongfamiliessafechildren.vic.gov.au

For enquires contact: respectful.relationships@edumail.vic.gov.au

Where we've been

Women's crisis and residential service

Commjunity co-design workshops

We spent time at an innovative women's crisis and residential service to learn more about a service model tailored to meet the individual and diverse needs of women and children escaping family violence. This service uses pet therapy as a creative and engaging way to support children through the trauma of family violence.

Respectful Relationships Education Program

On 10 October, DET hosted a forum in the State Library to highlight the importance of education in addressing family violence.

The Respectful Relationships education program was introduced into the Victorian curriculum last year. The pilot has run in 19 secondary schools last year by anti-family-violence organisation Our Watch and the evaluation was released at the forum. Key speakers included Rosie Batty and Our Watch CEO Mary Barry.

Hear from teachers and students involved in the trial Respectful Relationships program: Respectful Relationships:

For more information, visit the Respectful Relationships website.

Australian Women Against Violence Alliance (AWAVA) & Our Watch International Conference on violence against women

On 19–22 September, Our Watch and the Australian Women Against Violence Alliance held the Prevalent & Preventable conference in Adelaide. Key national and international spokespeople came together from across the sector, government, non-government and the community to discuss ways to prevent family violence.

The workshops and conference sessions centred discussions in four key areas:

  1. Preventing violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
  2. Putting intersectionality into practice — ensuring that prevention efforts respond to and tackle the complex and multiple forms of discrimination and marginalisation that intersect in different ways to influence the perpetration of violence and its impact on women
  3. Preventing violence against women in settings those with limited services and infrastructure, including rural regional and remote communities in Australia and the Pacific
  4. Children and young people as agents of change.

The full AWAVA program outline and key themes discussed is still available on the website.

Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation forum

On the 28–29 September, the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO) held a 1.5-day forum with VACCHO organisations who deliver services which focus on reducing the incidences of family and community violence, including prevention, early intervention, crisis support, healing and recovery, and family-, community- and cultural-strengthening activities.

Based on the Aboriginal Family Violence Co-Design Forum, VACCHO ran a similar exercise whereby participants created vision boards to articulate their vision of the future family violence system. Participants also reflected on the strengths of the family violence programs and activities in their respective communities, on what works and how other community organisations might replicate similar approaches.

For the diary

15 November 2016 – Family Violence Steering Committee meeting

17 November 2016 – Family Violence Housing Assistance Implementation Taskforce meeting

17 November 2016 – Victim Survivors Advisory Committee Meeting

18 November 2016 – Family Violence Social Services Taskforce

14 December 2016 – Family Violence Steering Committee Meeting

Who we're talking with

We are also actively joining the conversation across Victoria with:

  • Domestic Violence Victoria members meeting
  • Statewide Regional Integration Coordinators' meeting
  • Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Housing Organisation
  • Indigenous Family Violence Regional Action Group
  • Victorian Children's Council
  • Visit to the Neighbourhood Justice Centre
  • Visit to the Broadmeadows Children's Court
  • Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV)
  • Regional Integrated Committees for Family Violence

Further opportunities for engagement and relationship-building with the family violence sector and other partners will be sought over the coming months.

If you would like us to come and listen to your ideas at one of your meetings, please email fv.consultations@dpc.vic.gov.au


Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria has provided training to the Family Violence Service Delivery Reform unit on how the current family system operates for a woman experiencing family violence. The training outlined key entry points, support options, the potential difficulties that can be experienced and the complexities in navigating the current system.

Media articles

Rosie Batty VSAC Chair Rosie Batty has been credited for inspiring Jimmy Barnes to write about domestic violence in his book 'Working Class Boy'. Barnes plans to draw attention to the work of the Luke Batty Foundation.

Geelong Cats veteran Jimmy Bartel has shaved his beard to raise awareness about domestic violence, raising $50,000 for his charity Face up to Domestic Violence campaign.

People are dying: Face up to domestic violence, says newly shaved Jimmy Bartel, Source: The Age, 4 October 2016.

In the loop

Other resources and projects


SmartSafe+ is a free, award-winning interactive App that helps women collect evidence of family violence, in order to obtain an intervention order or prove a breach.

Much like a paper diary, women can record details of incidents but also include photographs, and video or voice recordings. These records are safely saved 'off-device' in a secure cloud account.

The App has several important safety features to support women's safety. For example, women complete a short safety assessment before downloading the App, to ensure it is safe for them to use. These safety questions include 'do you have a shared iTunes account?', 'does he know your passcode','does he have access to your phone', etc. The App also includes tech tips to increase tech-related safety, and contact details for services.

The Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria (DVRCV) worked closely with the Magistrates' Court of Victoria, Victoria Police and community and legal services to develop the App to ensure it is a trusted and valued tool for protecting women. The App won the Victorian Premier's iAward for Public Sector Innovation at the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) Awards in June 2016.

To get access to the SmartSafe+ App, please contact a family violence service or the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria on 9486 9866 or via email at smartsafeplus@dvrcv.org.au. It is available from the App Store and Google Play.

The Lookout

The Lookout website builds the capacity of workers to effectively respond to family violence in Victoria. It's a joint project of the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria and Domestic Violence Victoria, funded by the Victorian Government.

On the site you will find:

  • a directory of family violence and related services (searchable by DHHS region)
  • a calendar of family violence training, events and forums across the state
  • other useful resources such as fact sheets, FAQs and an online Community of Practice
  • access to Common Risk Assessment Framework (CRAF) training.

You can also The Lookout on Facebook or Twitter for the latest updates.

The Lookout also has a dedicated section promoting this newsletter and the state's response to family violence.

iMatter App DonCare — Doncaster Community Care and Counselling Centre

iMatter developed by Doncare is a domestic violence prevention app to help identify the warning signs of abusive and controlling behaviour in relationships as well as promoting healthy self-esteem.

It received a high commendation as a finalist of the ANZIAs (Australia and New Zealand Internet Awards).

Doncare is a support service that actively promotes healthy relationships among young peer groups. The organisation trains young volunteer mentors in respectful relationships who then deliver these workshops in schools as a prevention strategy towards domestic violence.

iMatter is available from iTunes and Google Play.

We want to hear from you

Do you have content to share? Send your photos, videos, key dates or any other information to Christine Panayotou.

We are also looking for updates and content for the family violence response website.