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Edition 5

What’s been happening

The Art of Disruption

Safe, responsive, no wrong door system response - Victim Survivor

The new year has begun with traditional approaches to family violence being actively disrupted with a series of innovative co-design and consultation activities across January and February.

The Support and Safety Hubs and Magistrate's court process are benefiting from the direct lived experience of victim survivors which challenge, and improve responses and services.

Meantime, the family violence sector are also once again sharing their specialist expertise for workforce planning, contributing to the development of Victoria’s first workforce census.

The Victorian Government’s advertising behaviour change campaign Family Violence No Good Days and Respect Women for our Children’s Future, has almost hit 1 million video views and has generated many emails and letters for unapologetically presenting the gendered nature of family violence.

This is an issue that’s finally gathering momentum. Men of influence and with a profile are speaking up against family violence targeting mainstream audiences and especially male dominated sporting environments like the Superbowl. By drawing attention to the importance of positive male voices calling out abusive behaviour towards women and getting ’air-time’ independent of any campaign, it begins to tackle deeply rooted societal inequalities and promote better respect for each other.

Information Sharing Workshops: Co-designing the Central Information Point Report

Better information sharing between services was a clear direction to emerge from the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

A co-design approach is being used to develop a coordinated report that will help provide access to critical information as part of the Central Information Point for Family Violence.

In the future, it may be possible to automate aggregation of information to support managing risk assessment and management for practitioners in the Support and Safety Hubs and prescribed organisations.

Meanwhile, the challenge is to provide a manual report with valuable information for practitioners within a range of practical constraints, such as time, quality and volume of information.

At a workshop on the 13 January 2017, practitioners and IT systems designers came together to co-design the interim report. 15 family violence practitioners/operations staff including those from children and family services and 10 systems designers, across 8 agencies took part.

Together they negotiated what information would be most useful in the report, what was the most useful timeframe for report delivery, what data was readily available to provide the necessary information and how long each piece of data was likely to take to retrieve.

The resulting prototype report was live tested on 31 January 2017. System designers from 4 agencies gathered together at the Neighbourhood Justice Centre, in Collingwood, to trial producing the report in a number of different scenarios. The report will be further refined to ensure it addresses practitioners' needs and is technically feasible. In the future live testing will include case practitioners.

Support and Safety Hubs Consultations

Womanadding post-it notes to wall during Support and Safety Hubs Consultations

The establishment of Support and Safety Hubs is 1 of the key reforms recommended by the Royal Commission. Bringing together expertise in family violence, children and family services and perpetrator interventions, the Support and Safety Hubs will provide a multi-disciplinary approach to providing safety and support. They will support stronger collaboration, combining different expertise and perspectives.

During February, DPC is working with organisations in the family violence and child and family services sector to host small group conversations with people who have accessed these social services. There will be discussion about people’s lived experiences, and hearing their insights into how the Support and Safety Hubs should work.

This work will be fed into the state-wide concept plan, which will form a standard model for the design and implementation of Support and Safety Hubs in each area to ensure that they deliver a consistent approach and response for all Victorians.

Family Violence Outcomes Framework workshops

A number of workshops with sector representatives were held to develop indicators for the Family Violence Outcomes Framework throughout February 2017. These indicators build on the outcomes framework, which was released as part of Ending Family Violence - Victoria's Plan for Change in November 2016. The framework details a range of key outcomes that demonstrate Victoria's collective priorities in preventing and responding to family violence.

Participants provided valuable insight to develop a comprehensive set of indicators, which will be used to track progress against the outcomes in the Family Violence Outcomes Framework. Workshops were held in Shepparton, Sale, Ballarat, Warrnambool and in the Melbourne CBD.

DPC would like to thank all those who took time out of their busy work schedules to participate in these sessions (particularly those who travelled some distance to attend), and also those who contributed valuable feedback offline.

Behaviour Change Campaign Advertising Update

Family Violence advertising campaign

Since the campaign's launch in December, the campaign videos have received almost 1 million views, with the campaign now showing on all metropolitan and regional television commercial stations; print advertisements in The Age and Herald Sun; local and regional newspapers; online and digital advertising and cinema advertising.

The Victorian State Government is continuing to develop the next steps of the campaign and is also looking at new ways to communicate this key message to all Victorians.

Watch the advertisements

Workforce Census

Victoria’s first family violence workforce census will be launched in March. It will seek to collect data across the range of workforces that play a role in preventing, identifying and responding to family violence, to inform the development of the 10 Year Industry Plan and the government’s workforce reform program.

The census questions have been shaped to be quick and easy to complete and crafted through a series of workshops and user testing to develop a survey which understands the challenges facing some workforces, including capacity and capability gaps, staff retention, health and wellbeing issues.

Developed through a co-design approach with peak bodies, unions , professional associations, service providers and workers, the census will aid Government in ensuring that the 10 Year Industry Plan demonstrates an informed, detailed and comprehensive understanding of Victoria’s family violence workforce.

The survey is designed for everyone who plays a role in responding to family violence, or in primary prevention, not just those in specialist family violence services. Filling out the census will provide workers with the opportunity to have a voice on key issues affecting them, and will ultimately shape the final outcome of the Government’s 10 Year Industry Plan.

The survey is expected to be released in March.

Courageous Conversations at Midsumma Festival

People in room at Courageous Conversations

As part of this year’s Midsumma Festival in Melbourne, the Victorian Government and Switchboard Victoria co-sponsored a special community event titled ‘Courageous Conversations’ on 1 February 2017.

The event featured a compelling talk by Melbourne-based psychotherapist, Carol-Ann Allen. ‘Some of the most important conversations in our lives never happen,’ Carol-Ann said, ‘because we have learned somewhere along the way that it is safer to stay silent.’

Silence is often the real communication issue that underpins conflict in relationships. ‘It’s not what partners are saying to each other, or at each other. It’s what is not being said that is the true problem, what feels too risky to be spoken.’ And in violent relationships, self-silencing can feel like the only option. But keeping silent provides ‘only a wish of protection.’

Switchboard General Manager, Jo Ball, acknowledged the partnership with the Victorian Government to help break the silence about the realities of intimate partner and family violence in our communities, that have stayed hidden for too long.

Tickets to ‘Courageous Conversations’ sold out days before the event.  The talk was moved into a larger space at Magnet Galleries in Melbourne to host over 100 attendees. 

Switchboard has been providing courageous conversations with Victoria’s LGBTI communities for 25 years.

More information is available on the Switchboard website. Phone counselling services are also available on 1800 184 527 or wechat counselling at www.qlife.org.au.

‘Engine room’ wrap-up

Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council (VSAC)

Members of the Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council are directly influencing and shaping the direction of the reforms and changes across the whole system. VSAC is challenging normal practice, providing advice through lived experiences, telling hard truths and placing another lens on decision making enabling the Victorian Government to see things from different perspectives.

VSAC has been working across many of the recommendations and other system reforms in the past few months, contributing to the direction and design of laws and policies through the following:

  • consultations on information sharing legislation for family violence and children’s matters
  • providing feedback on the Prevention of Family Violence Strategy
  • responding to the consultation paper on the Commonwealth proposed changes to the Family Law Act 1975
  • responding to the proposed Family Violence Protection Amendment Bill 2017
  • designing, developing and running workshops for the Support and Safety Hubs with people who use services
  • raising awareness about the impact of family violence on children and young people, in their own right.

Family Violence Steering Committee update

The Family Violence Steering Committee held its first meeting for the year on Wednesday 8 February 2017.

The meeting included progress of the family violence information sharing and child safety and wellbeing information sharing reforms. A subset of Steering Committee members will meet out-of-session to discuss matters relating to these important reforms in more depth.

DPC provided information about the progress of the service design for the Support and Safety Hubs. Members were informed of the upcoming Hubs Expert Design Workshop Group meetings, which commenced on the 10 February 2017. Workshop Group participants will assist with design options for the state-wide Support and Safety Hubs concept.

The draft Prevention of Family Violence Strategy was also discussed and members provided expert advice and feedback on the direction of the Strategy.

The Department of Justice and Regulation advised members that the review into Victoria's bail system focussing on legislative and practical reforms to manage risk and maximise community safety has begun. Members were invited to provide feedback through the public consultation process that is currently open. Submissions close on 28 February 2017 and can be submitted online at engage.vic.gov.au/bailreview.

The Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor, Mr Tim Cartwright APM, attended the meeting and informed members of the work undertaken to date by his Office.

A Family Violence Steering Committee Planning Workshop is scheduled for Thursday 9 March 2017. Key objectives of the workshop include to enable strategic planning for effective consultation and engagement, and to coordinate the engagement of members across the whole of Victorian Government family violence reform agenda.

COAG Update

The Victorian Government will continue to push for national reforms in family violence.

In 2017, Victoria will again present the case for prohibiting the cross examination of victims by perpetrators. Victoria will also continue to pursue the introduction of paid family violence leave in the National Employment Standards. Victoria also will work with the Commonwealth to examine gaps in primary health care for family violence victims.

One of Victoria’s key priorities in 2017 will also be to bring a proposal to COAG to improve cross-jurisdictional funding arrangements for family violence support and services.

A number of national reforms in family violence proposed by Victoria were agreed to at COAG in December last year.

The Commonwealth agreed to a 1-year extension of the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness. This is approximately $23 million in funding for homelessness services, which amongst other things, contributes funding for specialist family violence services.

The Commonwealth also agreed to amend the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) so that state and federal courts can work together to share information and improve protections for victims.

Victoria’s position is however that further national reforms are required in family violence. The next COAG will meet in April 2017.

Family Violence Housing Assistance Implementation Taskforce

The Family Violence Housing Assistance Implementation Taskforce, has met 9 times since it was established in May 2016. The Taskforce is progressing its work through 3 working groups comprised of Taskforce members, DHHS and DPC officials, community services sector and academic contributors. The work includes:

  • following an open tender process, the Evidence working group has engaged ACIL Allen Consulting to undertake an independent evaluation of the $152 million family violence housing blitz package initiatives, which were announced in April 2016. The evaluation commenced on 18 January 2017 and a final report is due in December 2017
  • the Housing Supply working group is finalising the scope for an in-depth demand and supply model for social housing and housing-related assistance in Victoria, including a focus on family violence
  • the Support Services working group is in the process of commissioning research profiling women and children experiencing family violence who require a crisis support response, with an anticipated completion date of June 2017.

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

Diverse Communities and Intersectionality Working Group

On 2 February, the Diverse Communities and Intersectionality (DCI) Working Group held its first meeting for 2017. The group warmly welcomed some new members, including a representative from the Victim Survivors' Advisory Council and 3 new representatives from the Youth Affairs Council of Victoria.

At this meeting the group engaged on the draft Prevention of Family Violence Strategy and discussed how this strategy can best work towards addressing the social conditions, or ‘drivers’, of family violence impacting people from diverse communities. The group also engaged on issues relating to industry and family violence workforces including: the capacity of the workforce to respond to people’s diverse needs, pathways to employment for people from diverse communities, and good practice in employing people with lived experience of family violence.

Working Group members are looking forward to engaging on work around the planned Family Violence Support and Safety Hubs at the next meeting on 2 March 2017.

Expert Advisory Committee on Perpetrator Interventions

Perpetrator Story

At the Committee’s second meeting, on 20 January 2017, the Centre for Innovative Justice (CIJ) presented the progress of the second stage of its research to map the roles and responsibilities of government and non-government service providers and agencies that have contact with perpetrators of family violence. The Committee also considered and provided feedback on the draft principles that should underpin perpetrator interventions.

Throughout February 2017, CIJ will continue its research through holding a series of workshops with government and non-government agencies before providing its final report for the Committee’s consideration.

In March, the Committee will provide its final advice to the government on the mapping of the roles and responsibilities of government and non-government agencies and service providers that have contact with perpetrators and the proposed principles for perpetrator interventions.

What’s new

Special Rapporteur

Australia welcomes the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, Dr Dubravka Šimonoviæ, for her official country visit from 13 to 27 February 2017.

The purpose of her mission is to assess the causes and consequences of violence against women, and Australia’s existing mechanisms and challenges with a focus on prevention, protection and prosecution.

The Special Rapporteur has requested to meet with members of the Family Violence Steering Committee, VSAC and members of the Indigenous Family Violence Partnership Forum and meeting preparations are underway for late February.

For the calendar

Image of calendar

21 February 2017 - Victim Survivors’ Advisory Committee Meeting
27 February 2017 - Family Violence Social Services Taskforce
28 February 2017 to 1 March 2017 - Aboriginal Children’s Forum
2 March 2017 - Diverse Communities Intersectionality Working Group
9 March 2017 - Family Violence Steering Committee Planning Day
15 March 2017 – Expert Advisory Committee on Perpetrator Interventions
4 April 2017 - Family Violence Housing Assistance Implementation Taskforce

Media articles

Rosie Batty speaks out for victims fleeing violence family violence:

Simone O’Brien supports Full Stop Foundation’s #Igotflowerstoday social movement

A letter to my son on International Women’s Day

Increase in demand for domestic violence helpline

Russia introduces bill decriminalising domestic violence

In our thoughts

Bourke Street Tragedy

Bourke Street tragedy - flowers at memorial site

On 20 January 2017, tragedy struck in the heart of Melbourne, with the senseless act of 1 individual, who was known to police through his history of family violence.

We offer our deepest condolences to the families that have lost loved ones and our thoughts are with the victims of this harrowing crime.

Victorians showed remarkable courage and without hesitation, came to the aid of innocent victims.

An abundance of floral tributes and condolence cards were left at the corner of Elizabeth and Bourke Streets as Melbournians began to learn of the magnitude and scale of the incident.

A vigil was held on 23 January 2017, to allow community to remember those lost and show their support to all victims and witnesses of the Bourke Street tragedy. The Premier, Daniel Andrews MP, the Governor of Victoria, Linda Dessau AC and the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle were in attendance as well as the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police Graham Ashton AM, various emergency services staff and a moving performance by Raphael Wong.

The Victorian Government set up a fund for the families affected by the incident, pledging an initial $100,000 and for those who wish to make a financial contribution please visit www.vic.gov.au/bourkestreet or call 1800 226 226.

If you, your family or people you know are having difficulty coping with the event and its aftermath support is available to help you deal with what you are feeling by contacting Vic Emergency Hotline on 1800 226 226 or Victim Support Hotline 1800 819 817.

In the loop

GQ Australia

Victim Survivor’s Advisory Council member, Tarang Chawla, will be featured in the March 2017 edition of GQ Australia. The article will discuss his views on how masculinity is changing, violence against women, mental health and the need for better male role models in Australia.

I’m a Celebrity (…)Speaking out about Family Violence

Nazeem Hussein, comedian, has chosen Intouch - the Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence as his preferred charity on the popular TV show ’I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here’. Nadeem speaks about the importance to influence societal change for a better future.

Watch video

Kris Smith, model, has also chosen to support White Ribbon Australia after being motivated by a story of victim survivor, Simone O’ Brien, and encourages the community to stand up, speak out and tell someone to help end family violence.

Watch video

All About Gender Equality

What do I tell my daughter? Audi’s Super Bowl Ad considers the gender issues that still exist today. Watch advertisement.

Not the Only One

Researchers at the University of Melbourne developed a website where Australian women who have experienced domestic violence can share their stories - helping to raise awareness and also to reassure other victim survivors that they are not the only one.

Northern Integrated Family Violence Services Calendar

Northern Integrated Family Violence Services produces a calendar of family violence support groups run by organisations in the northern metropolitan region.

The term 1 calendar is now available.

International Women’s Day

International Woman’s Day campaign this year is focusing on helping to forge a better working world – a more gender inclusive world. They are asking those to support the social hashtag #Beboldforchange. Find out more on their website.

What is Privilege?

Buzzfeed Australia posted a video to visually illustrate how privilege plays out in Australian society.

Watch video.

We want to hear from you

Do you have content to share? Send your photos, videos, key dates or any other information to fv.consultations@dpc.vic.gov.au.