Interface with Child Protection
The Orange Door and Child Protection have distinct roles in supporting families and preventing harm to children.
The safety and protection of children is a shared responsibility between parents/families, the community, universal services and, where extra support is needed, secondary and statutory services working in partnership.
Child Protection is the statutory service within DHHS that is responsible for intervening when parents/families and universal and secondary services are unable to ensure the safety and wellbeing of a child.
The Orange Door provides a coordinated intake for a range of child and family services, as well as close connections to the other justice, health and social services that support better outcomes for children and families at risk.
By providing a trusted and effective alternative to Child Protection, people referring children and families to The Orange Door can feel confident that appropriate action is taken outside the statutory system so that child safety and wellbeing concerns can be addressed earlier. This allows the statutory system to focus on areas of greatest risk and ensure it is exercised only to the extent necessary to keep children safe.
Child Protection refer to The Orange Door where it previously referred to Child FIRST – that is, where it does not identify a significant risk of harm but identifies a family in need of support with the care, wellbeing and development of children and young people.
People and organisations, including The Orange Door and police, continue to make reports to Child Protection where they have formed a reasonable belief that a child is in need of protection from significant risk of harm.
Child protection practitioners also provide practitioners in The Orange Door with specialist advice, where needed. They play a key liaison and monitoring role where families are engaged with family services and other support services through The Orange Door as part of the case plan for a child and family subject to Child Protection intervention.
Child Protection continue to participate in RAMPs.
What this looks like
People who form a reasonable belief that a child has suffered or is suffering significant harm should report these concerns to Child Protection, while also conducting a family violence risk assessment to identify if family violence is present. This includes people who are legally obliged to report suspected child abuse (‘mandatory reporters’1). Where The Orange Door receives referrals that they believe constitute reports that should be reported to Child Protection, they directly advise the referrer that they should make the report to Child Protection directly and support the referrer to make contact with the relevant area-based Child Protection intake service (including after-hours where appropriate). It is not expected that The Orange Door practitioners verify that a report has been made by the referrer.
1 The Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (CYFA) and the Family Law Act 2005 (FLA) require certain professionals to report child abuse to child protection
In instances where a referrer indicates they will not make a report as advised, The Orange Door practitioners determine whether they make a report based on the information provided by the referrer. This decision takes into account whether The Orange Door practitioner has been provided with sufficient information (for example, the child at risk of harm is able to be identified) and is confident that the information provided is authentic.
The Orange Door is the entry point for a range of supports and services for families needing support with the care, wellbeing and development of children. Where Child Protection intake identifies that a report made to them is related to concerns about child wellbeing, they endeavour to support the person or referrer to contact The Orange Door in the area, or transfer the referral directly (for example, where a written referral is made). The Orange Door works with children and families where permanent care orders are in place and Child Protection is no longer involved.
Child Protection receives L17 referrals from police where they have assessed that a child is in need of protection related to family violence. In many cases, this is alongside L17 referrals to The Orange Door for both or either an adult victim and perpetrator of family violence. The L17 referral and portal provides visibility to The Orange Door practitioners and Child Protection intake that these referrals have been made, and The Orange Door practitioners and the child protection practitioner reviewing or actioning these referrals make contact with each other to coordinate actions for these cases.
During the Child Protection investigation phase, the child protection practitioner may identify the need for support and services to be accessed via The Orange Door. Where this is identified at a preliminary stage of investigation, The Orange Door reviews the referral and information provided by the child protection practitioner and undertake any further assessment warranted. Where the practitioner has undertaken more detailed assessment – for example, when the report has been substantiated – this need for services is captured in a case plan that is developed and managed by Child Protection and is shared with The Orange Door. In these instances, The Orange Door allocates the services identified without undertaking a detailed assessment.
Child protection practitioners may seek information from The Orange Door – for example, during the process of investigation or when preparing a case plan. This is likely to include any history or record of previous or current service responses provided and identifying what services are available and could be provided to a family. This may be necessary as part of preparing evidence for court. In these instances, The Orange Door practitioners seek the advice of their team leader.
The Orange Door practitioners and child protection practitioners collaborate and coordinate actions in relation to families where:
- referrals are received by both The Orange Door and Child Protection simultaneously (for example, L17 referrals following a family violence incident)
- case planning identifies a need for supports for a family accessed through The Orange Door (for example, family violence services, perpetrator services and family services).
This collaboration is needed to:
- identify when and how best to contact and engage a family
- utilise joint visits and appointments to help with developing positive working relationships with families
- share information and analysis to guide assessment and decision making (for example, through participating in case conferences or care team meetings)
- reduce the need for duplication or repeated contact with families
Where Child Protection has developed a case plan for a child, they maintain responsibility for leading and managing its implementation.
Interface with the court system
Courts can be a place where women, children and young people experiencing family violence, or perpetrators, connect with services for the first time. For example, a woman could initiate an application for an intervention order, or a perpetrator could be brought before a court charged with a criminal offence, without having been in contact with any other services. Victims of family violence frequently state that they find court processes traumatic and confusing.
The Orange Door provides critical support for victims to access the range of legal protections and assistance more seamlessly and quickly (for example, family violence intervention orders, access to the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal, and tenancy matters).
Courts are also an important accountability and engagement point for perpetrators because of the authority and consequences experienced at court.
Children and families who are not experiencing family violence but require assistance due to complex issues impacting on parenting may also be engaged with court processes.
What this looks like
Making access to justice easier and safer
The Orange Door works with courts and court support services to arrange supports for women, children and young people experiencing family violence, and families in need of support with the care and development of children and young people who are in contact with the court system as well as perpetrators (see below).
Courts can refer people to The Orange Door before their first court date or at any other time in their court journey.
The Orange Door undertakes risk and needs assessment, and coordinates connections to services, including legal services.
Planning for the future
The Orange Door is piloting the use of video conferencing facilities to allow victim survivors to give evidence in court proceedings from a location other than a court room. The Remote Hearing Pilot (Pilot) aims to increase victim survivors choice as to how they participate in the court process, improve safety and minimise the trauma of face-to-face interactions with the respondent and/or the respondent’s friends or family. The Pilot will inform the feasibility for wider rollout. Video conferencing facilities can also enable clients to connect with external services, particularly in rural, regional and remote communities.
Courts and perpetrator accountability
The Orange Door provides a voluntary intake pathway for perpetrators and complements work that takes place through court and corrections-based referrals and mandatory interventions. The Orange Door works with courts and other services to minimise the transition points between services and agencies that often form opportunities for perpetrators to disengage from the system.
Courts can be an outreach point for The Orange Door practitioners to engage with perpetrators in person.
The effectiveness of the working relationship between The Orange Door and Courts is underpinned by dynamic information sharing. This supports the safety of women, children and young people, perpetrator accountability, and risk assessment and management. For example, The Orange Door provides the court with information about the perpetrator to inform safety planning for court appearances (in accordance with information sharing and other laws).
Court staff may have critical information and observations (for example, the perpetrator’s behaviour in court) that is shared with The Orange Door to inform risk assessment and risk management.
The Orange Door (and other relevant services) are able to access information about the outcomes of court proceedings (such as whether a perpetrator has been remanded, sentenced or released) to inform risk assessment and management. This sharing of information is supported by the CIP but can also take place through direct relationships and requests between The Orange Door and Courts.
Family Violence Contact Centre
The Family Violence Contact Centre within The Magistrates’ Court of Victoria will help to modernise service delivery at courts (for example, telephone and online channels to provide immediate assistance for family violence victims such as information about the court process and initiating matters). This contact centre is particularly important for improving access to those in rural, regional and remote communities. The contact centre will support the roll out of online applications for intervention orders to provide greater choice and safe options for victims about how they initiate proceedings. The centre will prioritise family violence matters, create links to further supports (including through The Orange Door) and function as the point of contact for other agencies to obtain and share information with courts. There are critical links between this new centre and the way The Orange Door assists and provides information to clients. This will be a focus of future work to ensure these are integrated and focused on promoting the safety and choices of people experiencing family violence.
The Orange Door coordinates with court staff when undertaking risk and needs assessments, planning and the coordination of supports and services when there are common or related clients. For example:
- if there are applicant and respondent practitioners at a court, they can work with The Orange Door practitioner to prioritise the daily court list and determine who is seen by court staff and who is contacted by The Orange Door.
- if a respondent practitioner at court has an opportunity to engage a perpetrator, and The Orange Door has already engaged with the victim-survivor, practitioners are able to liaise to inform risk assessment to manage and coordinate supports and interventions.
- if a court practitioner is a case manager for a perpetrator accused of a criminal offence on the Court Integrated Services Program, and The Orange Door is working with other family members, practitioners are able to inform the risk assessment and manage and coordinate supports and interventions
In the future
Outposted practitioners from The Orange Door could be available at the headquarter courts of the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria (including the specialist family violence courts as they are rolled out) to work with services at courts and connect with people attending court who may require access to services through The Orange Door.
The Orange Door will also establish working relationships with the other jurisdictions, in particular the Children’s Court, Koori Court and the federal courts, within the family law system.
Interface with Victoria Police
The Orange Door receives police referrals for people experiencing family violence, and families in need of support with the care, wellbeing and development of children and young people and perpetrators of family violence. The Orange Door provides a trusted and reliable response to referrals from police and builds confidence in community-based responses.
The Orange Door builds on the strong networks and relationships that exist between the police and family services, family violence services and perpetrator/men’s services to further enhance skills and capability across the system, with police bringing expertise in community safety and criminal accountability, and practitioners within The Orange Door bringing expertise in risk and needs assessment and risk management. Information provided by the CIP supports this work.
What this looks like within The Orange Door
The Orange Door receives L17 referrals
The Orange Door receives almost all family violence referrals from police (except for male victims, reports to Child Protection and for Aboriginal people where Koori Family Violence Police Protocols have been put in place to send these to a local Aboriginal service) and referrals for children and families in need of support (which may or may not be related to family violence). Statewide services continue to operate as L17 referral points after hours, and the VSA continues to be the statewide L17 contact point for male victims of family violence.
Referral pathways vary slightly depending on who is being referred, as discussed below.
Referrals for victims of family violence
The Orange Door receives all police L17 referrals for female victim-survivors of family violence needing support. Referrals made outside of The Orange Door operating hours (overnight or over the weekend) are addressed by The Orange Door the following day. Where immediate assistance (for crisis accommodation) is required, police can contact The Orange Door during operating hours or the statewide service (including on weekends and public holidays).
Perpetrators of family violence
The Orange Door receives police L17 referrals for perpetrators of family violence. Referrals made outside The Orange Door operating hours are addressed by The Orange Door the following business day. From Friday evening through to Sunday, police L17 referrals go to the statewide service for telephone information, brief assessment and referral. The Orange Door and the relevant statewide services have processes in place to ensure there is adequate information sharing and handover.
The Orange Door works with police to ensure there are coordinated and well-targeted responses to prevent the escalation of risk to women and children, ensure that perpetrators are kept in view and reduce recidivism of family violence.
At a minimum, The Orange Door works with police to:
- establish information feedback loops to ensure that when police make a referral, they know if and how The Orange Door or a service has responded to it
- share information to ensure The Orange Door’s risk management and safety plans are based on accurate and up-to-date police information
- Engage in risk assessment and management informed by information contained within L17 referrals
- undertake joint risk management and case coordination for high-risk or recidivist cases
Children, young people and families in need of support
Police members make an independent assessment of risk to any child or young person who is present or who has been affected by an incident of family violence. This is consistent with the emphasis on recognising children as victim survivors in their own right and engaging in family violence risk assessment of children under MARAM.
If police believe that a child or young person is in need of protection due to actual or likely sexual or physical abuse, or concerns of harm or neglect, they must report these concerns to Child Protection. Where a report is not made to Child Protection but there are still concerns for the wellbeing of a child or young person, a referral is made to The Orange Door for further assessment and support. If required, The Orange Door intake workers consult with the senior child protection practitioner 1 to determine the need for Child Protection involvement.
1 Previously described as ‘community-based child protection practitioners’
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
The Orange Door supports Aboriginal self-determination, ensuring that Aboriginal communities are active participants in decision making and choose where and how they receive services.
The Koori family violence police protocols that provide guidance to local police in responding to Aboriginal family violence are effective and continue to be used by police.
Many Aboriginal services offer specialised culturally appropriate responses to victims of family violence and vulnerable families and children. In Mildura, L17 police referrals are made directly to an Aboriginal service. Some Aboriginal services may want to work towards a similar arrangement. Community preference and capacity for Aboriginal services to provide tailored access points to The Orange Door and receive police referrals is determined locally.
Aboriginal people who are referred to The Orange Door are offered the option to work with a dedicated Aboriginal worker from The Orange Door and/or an Aboriginal service.
The Orange Door’s feedback to police
The Orange Door establishes feedback loops to and from police family violence units so that police are aware of actions taken by The Orange Door on L17 referrals. Practitioners within The Orange Door provide the information about the outcome of the referral, identifying:
- if contact has been established
- the presence of MARAM high risk factors identified from family violence risk assessment
- whether the client has been provided with a brief intervention or another service from The Orange Door
- whether the client has been referred to an external service
- information about the external service that has received the referral
Feedback to police regarding L17 referrals outcomes are directed to them through the L17 portal. Practitioners within The Orange Door have access to the L17 portal to view, track and redirect referrals, update client information and share information with other services, if necessary.
Relevant information pertaining to an L17 referral (the outcome of the referral and any additional information) is recorded by practitioners within The Orange Door in the CRM which is integrated with the L17 portal to ensure police family violence teams have up-to-date information about a service response or action taken as a result of the referral.
Additionally, under the Family Violence Protection Amendment (Information Sharing) Act 2017, practitioners within The Orange Door must disclose information about clients to police where it is requested to help identify and manage risks for victims of family violence.
Police updates to The Orange Door
The Orange Door has access to historical L17 reports to obtain information about a perpetrator to assist with risk assessment and management.
The Orange Door also has access to the CIP to request critical information about perpetrators from Victoria Police, courts, corrections and DHHS Child Protection. Upon receiving an L17 or other referrals including self-referrals, The Orange Door is able to make a request to the CIP for information about the perpetrator or alleged perpetrator. The CIP consolidates relevant information from each agency’s database into one report that is then provided to The Orange Door. This makes it easier for workers to assess the risk perpetrators pose to women and children and provide timely support.
Practitioners within The Orange Door update risk management and safety plans when relevant information is discovered by police (for example, if the plan was based on a perpetrator being remanded but he has recently been released on bail).
Joint risk management and coordination
Police expertise and experience in assessing and addressing the risk posed by perpetrators provides essential input into the work of The Orange Door for specific cases. Where police assess as necessary, practitioners within The Orange Door liaise with police to inform ongoing risk assessment and case coordination, consistent with MARAM Framework responsibilities 9 & 10. This builds on existing coordination between police and specialist services.
Police and The Orange Door undertake joint risk management on cases that are agreed by both parties as requiring a coordinated and targeted approach. This includes high-risk or complex cases, particularly where a perpetrator is a recidivist offender. In these circumstances, police and practitioners within The Orange Door might participate in discussions or case conferencing to determine the safest and most appropriate response that prevents escalation of risk. This could occur via telephone, videoconference and/or face-to-face meetings between police and practitioners within The Orange Door. Through this approach, additional risks and issues are assessed, additional or new information is shared and response planning is collaborative and more targeted.
Where practitioners within The Orange Door are unable or it is unsafe to make contact with affected family members, practitioners in The Orange Door may request police assistance to undertake joint visits or to conduct face-to-face assertive outreach to encourage uptake into support services. Joint visits provide an opportunity to reduce police callouts and proactively engage affected family members who are hard to reach and need support. Further, they provide a safe approach to support women experiencing family violence where the perpetrator remains in the home.
The Orange Door supports clients in reporting family violence to police
In the course of their engagement with clients, practitioners within The Orange Door may become aware of unreported incidents of family violence or may come in contact with someone who is at immediate risk of violence or further violence. This may include circumstances where:
- a woman presents at The Orange Door and discloses family violence or a risk assessment indicates they are in need of immediate support
- a woman is at risk of violence and unable to leave the location safely without police assistance
- a perpetrator poses a risk or makes a threat against their partner, children or others
- there has been a breach of the conditions of an intervention order
Practitioners within The Orange Door encourage and assist victims (or potential victims) to make decisions about reporting incidents of violence and breaches of intervention orders to police. Practitioners provide victims with a safety plan and targeted information, advice and support relevant to their situation. A safety plan assists victims to identify and recognise their safety needs and may encourage them to report incidents to police for their safety.
If appropriate, practitioners within The Orange Door report an incident to police on behalf of victims. However, reporting is to be centred on support rather than mandatory reporting. In the instance where The Orange Door practitioner wishes to make a report to police on behalf of a victim, consent should be obtained from the victim first unless there is a high risk of harm. This is critical to ensure that victims exercise their agency and to establish client–provider trust.
Where a perpetrator poses a risk or makes a threat against a person, Practitioners within The Orange Door should contact the person to inform them of their concerns for their safety. Practitioners then should consider the need to report any matters of concern to police in consultation with the affected person.
Where there is risk to a child, practitioners within The Orange Door may also need to consult with the senior child protection practitioner within The Orange Door to discuss the appropriate course of action, including by engaging in family violence risk assessment and management of children. If there is reasonable grounds to believe that a child is in immediate danger, practitioners within The Orange Door should call the police emergency line on triple zero (000). Where practitioners within The Orange Door believe that a sexual offence has been committed by an adult against a child (aged under 16), they have an obligation to report that information to police.
In reporting family violence incidents to police, practitioners within The Orange Door should provide police with the following information:
- the victim’s name and location
- the perpetrator’s name and location
- a brief description of the incident
- if children are present
- known weapons/firearms
- drugs and alcohol and other issues
Reporting other incidents
Practitioners within The Orange Door must respect the confidentiality of information obtained from clients in the course of their work. However, they must consider the need to keep clients, themselves and other workers safe from harm.
Police must be informed by calling triple zero (000) if a client reveals they intend to commit a serious crime, particularly if reporting is the only way to prevent harm to an identifiable person or persons. Practitioners within The Orange Door are to advise police by calling triple zero (000) of the threats made and the circumstances pertaining to the threat.
Interface with the Community Operations and Victims Support Agency (COVSA)
The VSA helps people in Victoria to manage the effects of violent crime including family violence. They operate the Victims of Crime Helpline, which provides information and advice and the Victims Assistance Program, which provides case management and supports people through the justice system.
The helpline receives police referrals in relation to male victims of family violence. The Orange Door and VSA work closely together.
The Orange Door and the VSA have developed protocols to support referrals, information sharing and, where appropriate, joint-agency risk assessment, needs assessment and planning, particularly for instances where the ‘primary aggressor’ is incorrectly identified.
What this looks like within The Orange Door
Police referrals for adult male victims of family violence are directed through the L17 portal to the VSA. Associated referrals for the perpetrator of violence against an adult male and referrals for any children are directed through the L17 portal to The Orange Door. Through the reports, The Orange Door and VSA identify where an incident has resulted in referrals to both agencies. This supports workers at both The Orange Door and VSA to share relevant information and coordinate assessment and any actions arising from the referrals.
At times, male victims of family violence may directly contact The Orange Door for support, or are identified through the work of The Orange Door (for example, where family violence is perpetrated towards parents, caregivers or siblings). In these instances, The Orange Door offers the choice to be connected to the VSA for support. Where this is not the choice of the client, The Orange Door can seek advice and expertise from the VSA about working with male victims (secondary consultation) when continuing to work with the client.
Identifying the primary aggressor
Family violence involves one person exerting power and control over another and using behaviours recognised as family violence risk factors. The use by one person of a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviours over time is a key aspect of identifying the perpetrator. For example, that person would be identified as the ‘predominant aggressor’ in the relationship. Identifying who is the victim and who is the aggressor in a family violence incident is not a simple binary decision. For example, a victim of many incidents may defend herself or her children and be classified as a perpetrator in one incident, leading to misidentification of who is the perpetrator/predominant aggressor in the situation. The Orange Door and VSA share information and review individual incidents against the pattern of violence to help identify the primary aggressor. Where The Orange Door or VSA come to a different assessment than initially identified in an incident report, based on full or more up-to-date information, workers arrange for referrals to be exchanged as required, and initial risk assessments are updated as needed.
Practitioners within The Orange Door also ensure that, in relation to L17 referrals, an outcome is captured for each referral so that both The Orange Door and VSA coordinate activity, especially where they need to be transferred due to misidentification of the primary aggressor.
Sharing information, input into risk assessment and management
Where The Orange Door and the VSA are both involved with a family, they share information and coordinate actions as required to avoid duplication. This includes sharing perpetrator information to ensure that risk assessment and management is informed by a comprehensive view of the situation.
Support for victims of crime
Victims of violent crime have a range of needs that may include health, counselling and information about practical support and advocacy when interacting with police, courts and legal processes. The VSA coordinates a whole-of-government approach to services provided to victims of crime in Victoria. The Orange Door refers clients to these services via the helpline, which is the gateway to these services. Practitioners within The Orange Door should coordinate and communicate with the helpline to avoid duplicating services.
The Orange Door receives police referrals for female victims of family violence, perpetrators and children. The VSA receives police referrals for adult male victims of family violence. A person who identifies as a male victim is referred to the VSA and a person who identifies as a female victim is referred to The Orange Door.
Practice tools, frameworks and guidelines
The VSA and The Orange Door use the MARAM risk assessment tools, the L17 referral portal and provide opportunities for joint training or sharing of expertise to help identify victims and perpetrators.
Interface with sexual assault services, including multidisciplinary centres
To be read in conjunction with the interim interface between The Orange Door and multidisciplinary centres (MDCs) and sexual assault services (under development).
The Orange Door, sexual assault services and MDCs work closely to ensure that clients who have experienced sexual assault or family violence have clear entry points into the service system and receive timely and appropriate support.
The Orange Door works with sexual assault services, MDCs and family violence services to ensure that people who access these services receive a coordinated service response.
What this looks like within The Orange Door
Sexual assault in the context of family violence
Some people accessing support through The Orange Door may also have experienced sexual assault. If it is identified that sexual assault has occurred, The Orange Door can refer the client to the local sexual assault service and/or MDC where they exist in that area. In the interests of connecting a client to specialist expertise as soon as possible, The Orange Door will try to make a warm referral as soon as possible. A referral will be made regardless of when The Orange Door identifies sexual assault (whether at initial contact/referral or during any assessment or service delivery).
Non-familial sexual assault
Where a victim has experienced sexual assault in a non-familial context, The Orange Door provides a warm referral to the relevant service for an immediate and appropriate response. This includes referrals to:
- sexual assault services (including CASAs and the Sexual Assault Crisis Line) for assessment, counselling and support
- medical attention (for either emergency or forensic support)
These referrals may then be handled through these services based at an MDC in areas where these are established.
The Orange Door team recognises and supports the existing relationships and roles that services and professionals – including sexual assault support services – may already have with people accessing The Orange Door.
Sexual assault involving children
If sexual assault by an adult against a child under 16 years is identified or suspected, The Orange Door makes a report to police. In addition, The Orange Door practitioner may wish to consult with the senior child protection practitioner regarding the need to make a report to Child Protection.
Through the course of their work The Orange Door practitioners may identify that a victim of family violence or any other client may have experienced, or continues to experience, sexual assault. They support the client to access the appropriate services through warm referrals, which may include phoning the service on behalf of the person.
Where a sexual assault service identifies that a victim of sexual assault has also experienced family violence or where they identify a family in need of support, it may be appropriate to seek additional support that can be accessed from The Orange Door.
Coordinating shared cases
Where both The Orange Door and a sexual assault service or MDC are working with the same client or family, these services must work collaboratively to support the client. Arrangements are based on the preference and best interests of the client, and family members, where appropriate.
Secondary consultation and support may be sought from the local sexual assault service to inform The Orange Door’s work and ensures that the person is provided with support that is informed by the specialist expertise and skills required. Given the expertise and skills required when working with victims of sexual assault, secondary consultation should not replace clients accessing specialist sexual assault services directly.
The Orange Door also works closely with sexual assault services or MDCs to share information for risk assessment and management purposes.
Supporting reports to police
In their engagement with clients The Orange Door practitioners may become aware of unreported incidents of violence and alleged crimes.
In close consultation with specialist sexual assault services, The Orange Door practitioners encourage and assist victims (or potential victims) to report incidents of sexual assault. However, reporting of sexual assault (in relation to adults) by The Orange Door practitioners is centred on support rather than mandatory reporting. In the instance where The Orange Door practitioner wishes to make a report to police on behalf of a victim, consent should be obtained from the victim first. This is critical to ensure that victims exercise their agency and to establish client–provider trust. In cases where the victim is a child or young person, consent is not required
Reviewed 19 January 2020