Foreword from the CEO, Family Safety Victoria, Eleri Butler

This has been an incredible year to join Family Safety Victoria, inspired by the evident commitment to ensure family violence and the inequalities which underpin it are no longer tolerated.

I feel privileged to be part of an ambitious reform program which centres Aboriginal communities’ self-determination and strengths, and places the expertise of specialist services and people with lived experience at its heart.

The achievements outlined in this 2019-20 annual report for The Orange Door network, delivered in collaboration with our sector partners, are momentous because this is a new way for people to access help and support, and we are working in ways that have never been done before.

The achievements this year are all the more remarkable, given the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic outbreak part way through the year. The safety and wellbeing of Victorians remained foremost in our response, as we adjusted short and medium-term priorities to meet immediate service delivery support requirements, while also maintaining momentum towards establishment of The Orange Door network across the state.

Family Safety Victoria has led the work to implement The Orange Door network since 2017, in response to Royal Commission recommendations to provide integrated access to effective support and improve the experience of people seeking family violence and family services.

By bringing together specialist services for victim survivors, services for perpetrators of family violence, and services for children and families in need of support, the model introduced significant change and investment to the service system.

The Orange Door network now forms an integral part of the family violence and family services systems in Victoria. It provides an entry point into the continuum of service provision that aims to ensure there is no wrong door to access high quality, consistent and effective support for families and children in the community. This includes tailored support for women and children impacted by family violence, holistic support for Aboriginal families in local communities, help with the care, development and wellbeing of children, and work with perpetrators to manage risk and change behaviours.

By the end of 2019-20, The Orange Door network operated across 5 areas - Barwon, Inner Gippsland, North Eastern Melbourne, Bayside Peninsula and Mallee, which is the focus of this Annual Report. The data in this report provides us with an overview of how people accessed and were supported by The Orange Door network in its second year of operation.

Over 50,000 people directly accessed or were referred for support into The Orange Door network of services. The needs and risks facing more than 15,000 children and young people were identified and assessed. The majority (80%) of people who engaged with The Orange Door had their needs met or were able to be connected to another support service.

Towards the end of the year, we welcomed the publication of the Victorian Auditor General’s Office (VAGO) performance audit of The Orange Door, which began in July 2019. Their audit focussed on whether the hubs “are providing effective and efficient service coordination for women and children”. The final audit report Managing Support and Safety Hubs was tabled in Parliament on 27 May 2020.

We welcomed the Auditor’s recognition that we engaged and consulted extensively with specialists and services to inform early development and delivery of The Orange Door and have demonstrated commitment to learning from feedback received. We had no hesitation in accepting all 9 recommendations, and the resultant actions are central to our implementation plans for the next phase of rollout of The Orange Door network.

As VAGO acknowledged, this is a long-term program of reform to transform family violence service systems in Victoria. We cannot achieve this alone.

As we move into the next phase of delivery, we remain committed to effective collaboration with Peak bodies, services and people with lived experience, to ensure the system meets the needs of individuals and families across the state. The second evaluation of The Orange Door, scheduled for completion in 2022, will focus on impacts and outcomes for people using our services.

Despite recent challenges, future delivery of The Orange Door network continues at pace. The Central Highlands and Loddon areas commenced in October 2020, while The Orange Door network commenced in Goulburn in April 2021. Inner Eastern Melbourne, Ovens Murray, Southern Melbourne, Outer Gippsland, Hume Moreland, and Wimmera South West will be operational by the end of 2021 and Western Melbourne, Brimbank Melton and Outer Eastern Melbourne will commence in 2022.

I want to acknowledge how incredibly hard our teams and our delivery partners have worked locally and across the state, to establish and deliver this integrated service response in our communities. Effective collaboration with specialist family violence services, perpetrator services, children and family services, Aboriginal services, and targeted services for multi-cultural communities, is vital to our success.

This annual report demonstrates our collective commitment towards building a service system that is connected, inclusive and works together to help keep adults, children, and families safe.