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Graduate learning and professional development: Planning resource

A resource that outlines the considerations for graduates learning and professional development as a part of the Family Violence and Sexual Assault Graduate Program.

The Family Violence and Sexual Assault Graduate Program’s approach to professional learning and development is intended to be flexible and determined by your local area and agency’s individual needs.

This webpage outlines considerations when planning for graduates’ learning and professional development. These considerations may include the other components in the Program’s professional learning approach, individual learning needs and interests of graduates and relevant capability frameworks.

Professional learning and development approach

The learning and development approach for the Program aims to provide opportunities for graduates at a state-wide level, local area level and agency level. Activities at a local and agency level are supported through the graduate funding allocation.

The Program’s professional learning approach consists of four components, which are detailed below:

Component 1: State-wide learning and development opportunities

The state-wide learning and development opportunities are led by Family Safety Victoria and the Learning and Development Facilitator.

These opportunities provide foundational learning opportunities for graduates and the opportunity to connect as a cohort. Activities include the induction session, a range of tailored workshops and a graduation session. Optional activities may be provided throughout the year based on graduate need. The state-wide learning and development opportunities and their dates are detailed on the Employing Agency and Graduate webpages.

Component 2: Monthly communities of practice

The community of practice sessions are led by the Learning and Development Facilitator. Community of practice sessions provide graduates with a space to reflect on their transition and development from student to practitioner and allow dedicated time to think about and reflect on their practice from different perspectives.

Component 3: Agency-based professional learning and development

Agency-based professional learning and development is led by participating employing agencies. Employing agencies are responsible for providing professional support, practice supervision and health, safety and wellbeing supports for graduates, as relevant to their responsibilities in the agency. This component of the learning and development program is funded through the funding allocation for employing agencies, with this resource designed to support planning for use of this funding.

Component 4: Local area activities

Taking a shared lead approach, Principal Strategic Advisors and employing agencies work together in collaboration to support or delegate coordination of opportunities for graduates to participate as a group in area-based opportunities and orientation activities. Examples of this may include supporting attendance at MARAM Collaborative Practice training and identifying opportunities for graduates to participate in and contribute to local projects or initiatives led by their Family Violence Regional Integration Committee.

Expected knowledge for graduates

All graduates are expected to undertake Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management Framework (MARAM) training, with graduates advised to select the most appropriate training for their level of responsibility in responding to family violence risk based on their organisation and sector. Information around selecting the most appropriate training for graduates can be found here.

Considerations for supporting graduate learning and professional development

In addition to considering the four components of the Program’s professional learning approach, your graduate’s individual learning and professional development needs and goals can be taken into account.

The following section outlines what your planning process could consider:

Consider career interests and goals

Planning can begin by considering what graduates would like to achieve in their career in the short, medium and long-term. This also encourages graduates to think about what they would like to learn and experience as they progress through the Program and, at a beginning level, following their completion of the Program.

This discussion can be revisited throughout the Program as graduates become more familiar with the work they are doing.

Clarify the knowledge and capabilities required for the role

There are a range of practice standards and capability frameworks that can assist in clarifying the knowledge and capabilities required in graduates’ roles in family violence, sexual assault and primary prevention.

Graduates and their supervisors are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the relevant frameworks and standards so they can identify their existing skills and knowledge and identify areas where they would like to build their skills and knowledge throughout the Program.

Some examples of these include:

  • the Code of Practice: Principles and Standards for Specialist Family Violence Services for Victim Survivors created by Safe and Equal, which provides an overarching ethical framework for specialist family violence service provision, within 10 principles, standards and indicators
  • Family Safety Victoria’s Responding to Family Violence Capability Framework and the Preventing Family Violence and Violence against Women Capability Framework, which includes five capabilities relevant to graduates in specialist family violence or primary prevention roles
  • Victorian Centres Against Sexual Assault Standards of Practice which provide a comprehensive set of Standards for Practice for CASAs to follow when services are provided to victims of sexual assault and their families. (Please note that these standards are currently under review)
  • the National Standards of Practice for Services Against Sexual Violence developed by the National Association of Services Against Sexual Violence. These standards set out the expected standards of service provision of practitioners in sexual assault roles, which include consideration of cultural competency, client engagement, therapeutic interventions, individual counselling, client consent, privacy and confidentiality, and practitioner support.

Consider current knowledge or skills

Completing a knowledge audit based on the relevant capability frameworks and practice standards is an effective way to establish an understanding of your graduate’s existing knowledge, including strengths and areas for development. Capability frameworks, such as those mentioned above, can provide information about what knowledge and skills are expected at different levels of practice experience. This can help you and your graduate assess their current level of knowledge and plan for where they would like to be at different points as the Program progresses.  

Some areas that may be useful to consider in a knowledge and skills audit include:

  • working in family violence, understanding and assessing family violence risk
  • working in sexual assault, responding to disclosures
  • working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, children and communities
  • inclusive practice, understanding and working with an intersectional perspective
  • trauma awareness and trauma-informed practice
  • cultural responsiveness and cultural humility training
  • working with women living with disabilities
  • working with children and their families
  • working with LGBTIQ+ individuals and communities
  • working with and within systems, collaborative practice, inter-organisational practice
  • recognising and responding to elder abuse
  • working with people who use violence
  • technological/digital violence and abuse and safety strategies/knowledge
  • prevention of violence against women – understandings of the drivers and reinforcing of violence against women and gender-based violence
  • practitioner well-being, vicarious trauma and health and well-being, organisational responsibility for safety, health and well-being.

Some questions that might be helpful for a graduate and supervisor to consider together are:

  • In what areas would you expect a graduate to have a beginning level of knowledge?
  • Are there areas where you would particularly like a graduate to focus on for their development?
  • Are there areas that are not relevant for a graduate in their role?

Some additional prompt questions that might also be helpful with a knowledge and skills audit are:

  • What did you learn about family violence/sexual assault/primary prevention when you were at university/in previous work?
  • Have you undertaken a field work placement in family violence/sexual assault/primary prevention? What did you learn from this placement?
  • Where do you think your strengths are in relation to what you know about family violence/sexual assault/primary prevention?
  • What areas of practice would you like further development in?

Consider learning and development opportunities

Based on what you have learnt from considering the above, you can work with your graduate around how their learning and development will be approached over the course of the Program.

Your organisation may already have a ‘training calendar’ or similar, but if not, it may be useful to create a high-level plan outlining what training your graduate will undertake and when. This can also help to understand expected costs and how training and other professional development can be spaced out over the course of the Program.

The graduate funding allocation can be used to support learning and development opportunities for your graduate. This can be used for accessing training, but the funding is flexible and can be used for other purposes depending on your graduates needs.

Some examples include:

  • attendance at events that are relevant to your graduate’s role
  • engaging a graduate mentor identified by your agency
  • supporting your graduate to ‘shadow’ other workers
  • accessing health, safety, wellbeing and cultural supports for your graduate
  • providing additional and/or external supervision
  • backfill to enable your graduate and/or supervisor’s participation in Program activities, or to facilitate your graduate’s reduced workload.

Support in planning for your graduate’s learning and development

The Learning and Development Facilitator will schedule a short ‘check-in’ with all graduates and their supervisor’s mid-way through the Program to ensure you are feeling supported with planning your graduate’s learning and development.

The Learning and Development Facilitator, Dr Deborah Western, can also be contacted for assistance with planning for learning and development at any time during the Program by emailing