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The MARAM reforms are now in their third year, and it is vital that change management continues to involve clear and consistent leadership by departments, supported by sector peaks.

The early evaluation of MARAM noted that central MARAM teams in government departments provided a strong foundation for leading the roll out of the reforms. This is supported by a clear and robust governance structure.

The additional funding provided directly to peak bodies and organisations means that departments can lead in practice direction, while trusted workforce leaders can work more directly with practitioners to support implementation.

This chapter is in three sections. Firstly, it describes the efforts by FSV as reform lead to provide central policy, resources and governance oversight to support implementation. Secondly, it focuses in on the leadership provided by departments to their sectors in guiding implementation. Finally, the report looks at the critical role of sector peaks and organisations in leading sector readiness and supporting the long-term cultural change necessary to implement and embed the reforms.

Section A: Family Safety Victoria as WoVG lead

Highlights

  • The Rolling Action Plan 2020-2023 articulated MARAM as a WoVG core foundational priority, and essential to developing a system-wide approach to perpetrator accountability
  • The State Budget 2021-22 allocated a further $97 million over four years across relevant government departments and agencies to fund the continued implementation of MARAM, FVISS and CISS, with a focus on Phase 2.
  • The regulations were amended on 15 December 2020, to enable Phase 2 organisations to commence under the reforms on 19 April 2021. These amendments prescribed organisations to MARAM, as well as to FVISS and CISS.[12]

Governance oversight and accountability

In direct response to an evaluation recommendation on MARAM implementation by the Cube Group, FSV revised and strengthened the governance and oversight arrangements. A MARAM and Workforce Directors Group oversees the implementation of MARAM (as well as FVISS and the Family Violence Industry Plan) and reports to a Project Reform Board. The Directors Group, chaired by FSV, provides regular project oversight of the reforms, including high-level tracking of expenditure, risks and issues of multilateral relevance, achievement of milestones and deliverables against agreed project plans.

The revised approach to governance provides a platform for strong and effective oversight of the implementation of MARAM activities, including monitoring of and responding to implementation challenges. In addition, sector grants implementation has been strengthened during this period by developing connected and clear working relationships and strengthening monitoring and performance management through quarterly reporting.

Oversight of actions to strengthen the perpetrator response has been strengthened through its inclusion as a domain in the Family Violence Outcomes Framework.

Perpetrator response

A significant area of work for FSV is in strengthening the perpetrator response through central policy development:

  • Practice guidance on working with adults who use violence has been developed throughout 2020-21; with the release of the guidance in 2021-22. Chapter 7 contains additional details about the development of the guidance in supporting consistent and collaborative practice.
  • Service guidelines, which outline a multi-intervention service response to perpetrators during the COVID-19 pandemic, were developed to support the continuation of work with perpetrators to ensure the safety of victim survivors. The guidelines were published in July 2020 and updated in November 2020 to align risk assessment, management and safety planning to MARAM.
  • The perpetrator domain in the Family Violence Outcomes Framework, released in November 2020, was updated. The new outcomes and indicators contribute to consistent and collaborative practice (Pillar 2) by emphasising whole-of-system responses for holding perpetrators accountable and by driving integrated responses to support stabilisation for perpetrators and reduce risk (for example related to housing, mental health, the use of alcohol and drugs).
  • A perpetrator accountability theory of change and monitoring and evaluation framework is being developed, contributing to a shared understanding of family violence (Pillar 1) by making clearer the full breadth of family violence (for example, including coercive control), which when measured will drive deeper understanding of perpetrators’ violent actions and patterns of behaviour, as well as systems, outcomes and continuous improvement (Pillar 4) through the improvements in collection and use of data and analysis.

Everybody Matters Statement and Implementation

FSV continues to fund initiatives that support members across Victorian communities, taking an intersectional approach in line with the Everybody Matters statement and leading the development of best practice.[13]

This includes:

  • funding three Family Violence and DisabilityPractice Leaders in three Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) areas in which The Orange Door Network is operational to build capability of The Orange Door and specialist partner agencies workforces, provide practice leadership and strengthen linkages and referral pathways with disability services
  • developing and disseminating four new practice tools to help navigate the NDIS system, identify risk and protective factors related to the NDIS and tips for family violence and sexual assault practitioners when writing support letters and for communicating with the NDIS related to key NDIS processes
  • How2 (‘Rainbow Tick ready’) inclusive practice training provided for over 100 specialist family violence sector organisations
  • preliminary work in conjunction with DFFH to develop a WoVG strategy to respond to family violence committed against older people (elder abuse)
  • in July 2020, a Multicultural Communities Family Violence Working Group, co-chaired by FSV and the Victorian Multicultural Commission, was established to support the 20 organisations funded under the Multicultural COVID-19 Family Violence Program. The Program is a joint initiative between DFFH and FSV, providing $2.4 million to 20 multicultural, ethno-specific and faith-based organisations across Victoria during the COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery to deliver family violence awareness raising, primary prevention and early intervention activities within their communities
  • the development of the Aboriginal Family Violence Industry Strategy under Dhelk Dja, to provide a culturally informed framework to continue to build the capacity of Aboriginal services and its people in the family violence sector. Building on the strong foundations of experience in the sector, it will increase the number of Aboriginal people engaging in further education, prioritise Aboriginal led family violence programs and prevention initiatives and highlight the importance of Aboriginal culture in the sector.

Section B: Departments as portfolio leads

Highlights

  • DFFH and Department of Health (DH) amended service agreements for funded organisations to include a new reference requiring prescribed organisations to align to MARAM.
  • DFFH has established an internal MARAM Implementation Steering Committee to support a consistent approach to MARAM alignment and implementation across the department’s prescribed Community Services Operating Division workforces.
  • DFFH has developed a series of behaviour statements (I-statements) to support practitioners to integrate MARAM Responsibilities into their practice and build confidence and competence in recognising and responding to family violence.
  • DJCS Victim Services Support and Reform (VSSR) signed a memorandum of understanding with FSV to pilot the use of online tools for risk assessment and management for victim-survivors of family violence.
  • DH established a Specialist Family Violence Advisor (SFVA) state-wide steering committee in November 2020 to provide state-wide support, direction and leadership of the SFVA positions, including ensuring the positions support MARAM alignment and implementation.[14]
  • The Strengthening Hospitals Response to Family Violence (SHRFV) initiative has developed MARAM-aligned training and practice guidance to support front-line hospital staff to identify and provide early support to victim survivors of family violence. This means that staff report family violence risk as a standard part of their role, and it is built into hospital business as usual.
  • DET’s Supporting Student Cohorts Affected by Family Violence Initiative (FVI) received the Evidence Based Policy Award at the IPAA Leadership in the Public Sector 2020 Awards on 20 April 2021. The FVI initiative achieved significant increases in school staff members’ levels of awareness, knowledge, skill and confidence to support students affected by family violence as well as increased identification and improved referral pathways.
  • DET has signed on all Victorian government schools to the Respectful Relationships initiative, acquitting recommendation 189 of the Royal Commission into Family Violence. More than 1,950 Victorian government, Catholic and independent schools are participating in Respectful Relationships.

Department of Education and Training

More than 1,950 Victorian government, Catholic and independent schools are signed on to the Respectful Relationships whole school approach. This includes all government schools, acquitting recommendation 189 of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

Respectful Relationships is a primary prevention of family violence initiative. It supports schools to promote and model respect, positive attitudes and behaviours and teaches students how to build healthy relationships, resilience and confidence.

Department Respectful Relationships Area staff provide on-the-ground support to schools, including project leads to guide implementation and liaison officers to support schools to respond to disclosures of family violence and implement FVISS and MARAM.

This is also supported by Respectful Relationships professional learning for early childhood educators. The professional learning aims to increase awareness and understanding of the dynamics of gender equality and family and introduces MARAM, FVISS and CISS.

The Supporting Student Cohorts Affected by Family Violence Initiative (FVI) was designed as a secondary or early intervention to build on the foundation laid by the Respectful Relationships Initiative.

The FVI was established in 2018 to develop evidence-based policy, along with practice guidance and resources for all school staff to assist them in providing an effective and early response to students who may be or are affected by family violence.

The objectives of the FVI were to:

  • increase knowledge, skills, and confidence of school and regional staff (teachers, health and wellbeing specialists, leadership, and support staff) to respond to and support students who are experiencing family violence
  • provide clarity and consistency on areas of responsibility for different roles within schools and the Department
  • assist in development of referral pathways and service linkages
  • contribute to the evidence base on early interventions to support school students who may be or are affected by family violence, including the processes for developing and implementing such supports.

DFFH: Child Protection

DFFH is developing a Strategy to Enable Practice Change. The strategy provides a considered and wholistic approach to support the implementation of MARAM and builds capability to recognise and respond to family violence risk.

To support practitioners to integrate MARAM responsibilities into their practice, the strategy contains ’I statements’ developed with the Victim Survivors Advisory Council (VSAC), including:

  • When I see observable signs of trauma or assess there are safety risks, I ask the family violence screening questions in a place I know is safe for the client.
  • I do not undertake screening and identification for family violence with the victim survivor when the person alleged to be using violence is present.
  • I apply the Structured Professional Judgment Model to the information sought and shared through asking the risk assessment questions to determine the level of risk.
  • I can describe high-risk factors, that based on the perpetrator’s behaviour and circumstances, have changed, or escalated in frequency or severity.
  • I assess the risk to each child and young person independently and then consider this collectively with the risk experienced by the parent/carer and other children/young people to inform my determination of the level of risk for each family member.

DFFH: Multicultural Affairs

The Victorian Government is committed to ensuring that all Victorians, no matter their cultural identity, background or faith, feel accepted and free to participate fully in society. The actions taken by DFFH to support the first three months of alignment was to provide clear and consistent leadership to newly prescribed framework organisations across the multicultural and settlement sector to begin aligning their policies, procedures, practice guidance and tools to MARAM.

  • FSV has provided sector support funding to AMES Australia, Whittlesea Community Connections and Jewish Care to deliver tailored implementation support. The department is working closely with the three organisations, who have developed agreed deliverables for the 2021-22 reporting period.
  • Information sessions were organised for the services by Multicultural Affairs, the Office for Prevention of Family Violence and Coordination, Office for Youth, and Family Safety Victoria (FSV) to introduce the operational aspects of MARAM and information sharing to support the identification, assessment, and management of family violence risk.
  • An internal working group of departmental officials has been established to provide program-level oversight and support clear and consistent leadership in relation to the ongoing implementation of MARAM and the information sharing schemes by prescribed multicultural and settlement organisations.[15]

DH: Ambulance Victoria

The Ambulance Victoria Safeguarding Care Program has been established to oversee Ambulance Victoria’s approach to family violence, child safety and improvement activities that provide a safety net for victim survivors, children, vulnerable people and at-risk communities. The ‘Safeguarding Care Senior Lead’ will oversee the implementation and operation of MARAM across Ambulance Victoria by leading the work to identify which parts of Ambulance Victoria’s practice can be brought into alignment now and develop a longer-term plan to improve family violence risk assessment and management practice over time.

DH: Health services

Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence (SHRFV) was established in 2016 to provide a system-wide approach to responding to family violence. Twenty-seven hospitals were funded to implement the initiative and provide mentoring and support to the remaining 62 public hospitals in a regional hub-and-spoke style model.

DH recognises the key role that SHRFV has played in supporting health services respond to family violence and the great opportunity to continue the important work through supporting health services alignment to MARAM. Prior to prescription the SHRFV initiative team had already developed resources to support organisational leaders adopt a stronger response to family violence and develop a MARAM action plan to be endorsed at the highest level.

Funding has been approved for SHRFV to support MARAM alignment until June 2024.

Department of Justice and Community Safety (DJCS): Corrections Victoria

Corrections Victoria (CV) has designed and published a Corrections Family Violence Programs and Services Guide which outlines clinical and non-clinical programs and pathways and the availability of CALD and Aboriginal specific services related to family violence.

To embed MARAM practice within Corrections Victoria’s funded service programs, many organisations have:

  • committed to focus work on LGBITQA+ communities, women, trans and gender diverse people who have enacted harm and young people who have both enacted and experienced family violence
  • applied intersectional analysis to understand clients as individuals with unique needs and experiences
  • undertaken deeper clinical exploration in relation to marginalised groups, including gender affirming approaches and literature
  • ensured that an intersectional approach is embedded into family violence practice
  • dedicated specific resources to embed MARAM
  • mapped programs and services against the MARAM responsibilities to guide work plans
  • set up working groups to support MARAM alignment and the implementation of the FVISS.

Women’s prisons

Embedding a trauma-informed approach to prisoner management at Dame Phyllis Frost Centre and Tarrengower women’s prisons is a key area of reform to improve the gender responsiveness of the women’s prison system. Working in partnership with the women, understanding their lived experiences, including of family violence and how this can impact them in prison is essential to trauma informed practice.

CV has engaged a consultant to review and develop a new gender responsive, trauma informed training framework and associated packages, for custodial staff employed to work in the women’s system. The final packages were provided to CV at the end of the financial year, and implementation planning commenced in July 2021.

FSV: The Orange Door

The Orange Door is a free service for adults, children and young people who are experiencing or have experienced family violence and families who need extra support with the care of children.

During 2020-21 The Orange Door opened a further three sites in Central Highlands (October 2020), Loddon (October 2020) and Goulburn (April 2021). A further nine sites are planned in the 2021-22 period bringing coverage to all 17 DFFH areas.

The opening of an Orange Door is complex as it involves the establishment of local partnerships working in collaboration from one site to offer a multi-disciplinary response to family violence for those experiencing and using family violence, as well as for families with children in need. The implementation approach is continually adapted and strengthened based on the operational and implementation experiences in opening previous premises demonstrating a responsive leadership approach.

This can be demonstrated through the development of the Inclusion Action Plan for The Orange Door, which is a state-wide two-year plan to embed inclusion, access and equity in The Orange Door services. The plan was approved in April 2021 and outlines key measures to set the baseline so that everyone who uses The Orange Door feels safe, welcomed and respected. The plan supports The Orange Door partnerships to establish an intersectional approach to their work across family violence, sexual assault and child and family wellbeing in line with MARAM Principles.

Figure 3: Inclusion Action Plan Pillars

Figure 3 Report on the implementation of the Family Violence Risk Assessment and Management Framework 2020-21
Figure 3: Inclusion Action Plan Pillars

Outline of the Inclusion Action Plan Pillars. It showcases the following:

  • Vision: Everyone who uses The Orange Door feels safe, welcomed, respected and included
  • Inclusion Action Plan Pillar:

    • Communicate effectively: People ore heard, valued and receive information in ways that work for them. Physical cues ore used to help people feel safe, respected and included.

    • Accessible services: All Victorians have equal access to The Orange Door and we actively identify and remove barriers to access.

    • Work together: Working with clients to inform service delivery. Developing partnership across the community to ensure services work together to provide people with the support they need.

    • Develop our capabilities: Our staff, systems, policies and processes reflect best-practice through a culture of learning and continuous improvement.

  • Enablers:

    • Supportive leadership and culture

    • Monitoring and continuous improvement

    • Ongoing workforce development and training

    • Clients have a say and choice

Download Figure 3: Inclusion Action Plan Pillars

The Aboriginal inclusion action plan is a three-year plan that focusses on actions The Orange Door services need to take to improve access and equity for Aboriginal communities.

This plan was endorsed by the Dhelk Dja Partnership Forum on 13 May 2021 and FSV will be consulting with ACCOs on the most appropriate approach to implement the plan, building from the Strengthening Cultural Safety of Family Violence Services project led by the Victorian Aboriginal Childcare Cooperative Agency. This will include the rollout of MARAM-aligned cultural awareness training and approaches to embed a continuum of learning for practitioners and partner agencies.

The Courts

The courts are aligning policies, procedures and processes with the MARAM Framework and MARAM implementation operational guidance. This work is supported by the MARAM operational sub-committee established in late 2020 which includes senior staff from the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria and the Children’s Court of Victoria who provide operational subject matter expertise.

The sub-committee supports:

  • developing tailored guidance to help courts’ staff apply MARAM Responsibilities in their day-to-day roles
  • supporting staff to use MARAM aligned tools and processes correctly and confidently
  • providing opportunities for collaboration and information sharing among staff
  • integrating MARAM tools in the courts existing IT and data capture systems to improve the efficient application of MARAM tools and processes and support information sharing.

The project team is working with the Case Management System (CMS) project to ensure the new court-information system provides an integrated solution to capture, store and share family violence risk related information across the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria and the Children’s Court of Victoria.

Victoria Police

A significant review of the Victoria Police Manual – Family Violence was completed in 2021. This was undertaken to ensure the policy directions for responding to family violence and assessing and managing risk are appropriate and aligned to community and sector expectations. During the period, practice guidance was developed to support the Family Violence Report (FVR) approach and promote consistency throughout Victoria Police. Further family violence practice guides are subsequently being reviewed, including the Victoria Police public-facing Code of Practice for Investigation into Family Violence.

Victoria Police actively collaborated with the sector on a number of family violence issues by participating in executive and senior manager level steering committees, advisory groups and workshops on specific family violence issues such as the misidentification of the primary aggressor at family violence incidents, perpetrator engagement by the sector, the operation of The Orange Door, and providing input to Family Safety Victoria for the development of practice guidance documents for victims and family violence support operators.

Following two years of staged implementation of the new Family Violence Report (FVR) (also known as an L17), stakeholder engagement indicates increased confidence by frontline police members in their decision making in response to family violence situations and more useful and fulsome narratives passed onto The Orange Door and other service agencies through the Department of Families, Fairness and Housings (DFFHs) L17 Portal.

In addition, Victoria Police has produced social media campaigns and accessible resources for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, translated into various languages and available in Easy English. These include:

  • Information and Support Referralbrochure
  • The Family Violence Safety Noticebooklet
  • The Family Violence Safety Notice - Standard Conditionsinformation sheet
  • The Family Violence: What Police do information sheets
  • The Family Violence: Technical Terms Bilingual Tool
  • A suite of videos in multiple languagesExternal Link
  • The Reporting sexual offences to police booklet

The Victoria Police Practice Guide – Family Violence – Priority Community Response has been reviewed and updated, highlighting some of the key considerations for police members when responding to family violence situations within CALD communities applying an intersectional lens.

Section C: Sectors as lead

Highlights

  • FSV funded $1.55 million of sector grants to provide direct implementation support to sectors prescribed under the MARAM, FVISS and CISS.
  • FSV additionally allocated funds to three multicultural sector grant agencies to support the alignment of 41 migrant, refugee and asylum seeker settlement and casework services (that were prescribed in Phase 2).
  • Funded recipients have delivered a variety of implementation activities throughout 2020-21, including Communities of Practice, webinars, practice forums and tailored resources. Further details are provided below.

Sector Grant Fund Recipients 2020-21

Sector grants were distributed to the same peak or representative bodies as in 2019-20 from Phase 1 workforces across the service system. This includes sector grants funding to mainstream peak bodies as well as separate funding and working groups for ACCOs.

  • Justice Health
  • Consumer Affairs Victoria
  • Domestic Violence Victoria (DV Vic)[16]
  • No to Violence
  • CASA Forum (including Mallee Sexual Assault Unit)
  • Council to Homeless Persons
  • Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association
  • Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare
  • Municipal Association of Victoria
  • Djirra
  • Dardi Munwurro
  • Elizabeth Morgan House
  • Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association Limited
  • Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency
  • AMES*
  • Jewish Care*
  • Whittlesea Community Connections*

*From April 2021

Some of the highlights of the sector grants recipients are outlined below under specific funding streams.

Safe and Equal - Formerly DV Vic and DVRCV[17]

During 2020-21 Safe and Equal delivered:

  • Nine practice lead community of practice sessions based on a MARAM-aligned topic. The community of practice facilitated reflective discussions, guest speakers and peer-presented case studies.
  • Four implementation champion group sessions were delivered, covering the code principles, MARAM Pillars and MARAM Responsibilities, and how they interrelate.
  • Safe and Equal also supported No to Violence with the Family Safety Advocate community of practice. Topics covered included risk assessment in the unique context of the Family Safety Advocate role, information sharing, intersectional approaches, sexual violence in family violence, working with children and understanding child wellbeing.

No to Violence (NTV)

In partnership with SAS Vic and DV Vic, No to Violence facilitated four 90-minute online panels that explore sexual violence in family violence and coordinated high-risk responses between sexual assault services, victim survivor support services and perpetrator intervention services. The panels were recorded and circulated by the collaboration agencies.

In addition, NTV, in collaboration with the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare (the Centre) and DV Vic, facilitated three 60-minute online webinars with guest experts. The webinar themes explored coordinated risk management with children.

  • 80 per cent of attendees reported an increased understanding of specific risk and protective factors that can exist across the life span.
  • 60 per cent of attendees increased their understanding of how services can use the MARAM Framework to work together collaboratively.
  • 90 per cent of attendees increased their understanding of how to maintain a child lens when assessing and responding to family violence risk.
  • There has been an average of 86 per cent increase in understanding across the learning outcomes delivered and evaluated in each webinar. Summarising an overall increased understanding of sexual violence in intimate partner relationships and the barriers victim survivors from diverse communities encounter.

Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association Ltd

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association Ltd (VACSAL) has been successful in spreading awareness of MARAM though their respective networks. For example, VACSAL has consistently updated the Aboriginal Executive Council (AEC) on the rollout of the reforms. The AEC sits between the ACCOs and government and consists of key policy workers and CEOs from across the ACCO sector. Policy representatives are now more aware of the MARAM reforms, their progress and what the reforms mean for ACCOs.

During 2020-21, VACSAL engaged a consultant to produce a scoping paper exploring the enablers and barriers to implementing MARAM within the organisation and the ACCO sector more broadly. The scoping paper has advanced MARAM alignment by giving senior staff and FSV an insight into current barriers for MARAM alignment.

Sexual Assault Services Victoria

Sexual Assault Services Victoria (SAS Vic) has established and facilitated an online communities of practice for MARAM alignment. Three CoPs were completed with 60 SAS and harmful sexual behaviours (HSB) practitioners attending these sessions. The sessions included an overview of the family violence sector presented by The Orange Door Geelong, the DV VIC Ramps Coordinator and DV VIC representative as well as MARAM alignment in the HSB sector and application of the FVISS.

Elizabeth Morgan House

Initial resources created by Elizabeth Morgan House (EMH) aimed to build at internal alignment and capacity among EMH staff, including updating or creating new policies and procedures, adapting information-sharing templates, updating induction pack updates and delivering information-sharing training sessions. These resources and tools have been used to share more widely with other organisations, both Aboriginal and mainstream.

Dardi Munwurro and Djirra

Dardi Munwurro and Djirra have operationalised the MARAM Framework within their organisations and developed a shared understanding of the risks, experiences and impacts of family violence experienced by Aboriginal people. This work includes advocacy in mainstream forums for cultural safety to underpin family violence response across the services system, including recognition of the structural inequalities and barriers that Aboriginal people face when accessing support.

Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association

VAADA provides overall support to the AOD sector to embed and align with MARAM via many activities. VAADA supports capacity building, policy development and MARAM training across the AOD sector, and it has delivered secondary consultations, briefings, and information sessions to AOD organisations and clinicians from St Vincent’s Hospital and the Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS) and AOD Intake and Assessment workers at Bayside Community Health. In addition, they present at various meetings to discuss the intersection between AOD services and family violence, including collaborative practice meetings with the Australian Community Support Organisation (ACSO) and Sector Capability Building Working Group meetings with Family Safety Victoria (FSV).

Specialist Family Violence Advisor (SFVA) Capacity Building Program in Designated Mental Health and Alcohol and Other Drug Services

The Royal Commission found alcohol and other drug services and mental health services play a direct role in identifying and responding to family violence. Therefore, building capacity was needed in these sectors to enable this and to strengthen relationships with specialist family violence services.

SFVA positions were developed in response to recommendations 98 and 99 of the Royal Commission into Family Violence:

Recommendation 98

The Victorian Government fund the establishment of specialist family violence advisor positions to be located in major mental health and drug and alcohol services. The advisors’ expertise should be available to practitioners in these sectors across Victoria.

Recommendation 99

The Victorian Government encourage and facilitate mental health, drug and alcohol and family violence services to collaborate by:

  • resourcing and promoting shared casework models
  • ensuring that mental health and drug and alcohol services are represented on Risk Assessment and Management Panels and other multi-agency risk management models at the local level.

The Victorian Government funded establishment of the SFVA positions across 17 areas in 2017. SFVAs embed family violence expertise within the alcohol and other drug and mental health sectors, support continuous improvement, lead system and practice change, and build sector capacity and capability to identify, assess, and respond to family violence.

State-wide coordination of the SFVA program throughout 2020-21 was primarily provided by No to Violence.

SFVA statewide coordination

Through close engagement on a Community of Practice undertaken throughout 2020-21, the Statewide Coordinator identified the need to form Special Interest Groups for the SFVAs to collaborate on key projects across the state.

Eight groups were identified with a focus on work to be conducted throughout the remainder of 2021 and into 2022.

Each SFVA sits on at least one of the eight special interest groups, though many sit on multiple groups. Where possible, the groups seek to collaborate with peak bodies and other key stakeholders.

One special interest group focuses on addressing barriers to refuge access for women using substances and experiencing mental ill-health. This group invited representatives from VAADA and DV VIC / DVRCV to join the group to provide their insights, identify advocacy opportunities, and support actions.

Another group is developing family violence newsletters, with a dual diagnosis perspective, for the mental health sector. In collaboration with the Centre for Mental Health Learning, which will host and distribute the newsletters, the group of SFVAs will write the quarterly newsletters.

The six other SFVA groups are currently scoping and planning their project goals and activities. These Special Interest Group topics will include:

  • sharing insights to identify and respond to patterns of coercive control within mental health and AOD services
  • secondary consultation models for SFVAs
  • practice considerations for working with people who use family violence within AOD and mental health services
  • demystifying MARAM and the information sharing schemes for the mental health and AOD sectors
  • responding to family violence experiences and complexity with children and adolescents in mental health and AOD services
  • MARAM-alignment recommendations for area mental health services, with a focus on tools.

Further examples of collaboration by SFVAs include:

  • AOD Assessing with Confidence training - in collaboration with Turning Point trainers, SFVAs are co-delivering the AOD Assessing with Confidence training to provide specialist coverage of the family violence components of the updated, MARAM-aligned AOD Intake and Assessment Tools.
  • Sexual Violence Awareness - two AOD SFVAs from EACH collaborated with the South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault (SECASA), Uniting, University of Sunshine Coast, and Resourcing Health and Education in the Sex Industry (RhED) to facilitate a cross-sector reflective practice discussion on linkages between substance use and sexual violence, MARAM risk indicators, non-physical indicators of sexual violence, and survival sex as a safety strategy.
  • Overdose Awareness and Family Violence - on International Overdose Awareness Day, an AOD SFVA at EACH collaborated with SURe (Substance Use Recovery) to present a reflective discussion on the potential interplay between threats of overdose and family violence, including MARAM-aligned practice considerations to support a victim survivor and/or person at risk of overdose and invitation strategies.

Capability building grants (funding through the FV Industry Plan)

FSV is responsible for building capacity and capability in the specialist family violence sector but has also committed to using capability funding to support other MARAM-prescribed workforces across WoVG portfolios. All projects relevant to this work leverage MARAM alignment through creating a shared understanding of family violence, fostering consistent and collaborative practice, undertaking responsibilities for risk assessment and management and continuous improvements.

FSV-funded Youth Support and Advocacy Service (YSAS) for a second year to focus on young women’s experiences of intimate partner violence and non-collusive practice.

YSAS Highlights for 2020-21 include:

  • identification of workforce needs required by the organisation to achieve family violence capability
  • blended evaluation to confirm the design and deliver of training curriculum, informed by the pilot group
  • executive-endorsed organisation wide YSAS statement of family violence
  • development of a YSAS family violence resource book
  • collaboration with NtV and CASA house to develop specialist training content to merge men’s behaviour change strategies with youth AOD frameworks and support disclosures of sexual assault for the youth AOD workforce at YSAS

Summary of progress

The far-reaching impact of these reforms across multiple workforces requires a clear and consistent leadership approach that involves both government departments and peak bodies and sector leads.

The role of central implementation teams located in each department was recognised by the 2021 budget outcome, and the provision of funding for four years will make an impact in time. As noted in the annual report for 2019-20, the main challenges following the successful budget outcome continue to be the challenge of recruitment and retention and completing priorities from other reform programs.

FSV will continue to take a centralised lead role and engage with departments on the roll-out of the reforms through the established governance structure.


[12] The 2020 regulations amended the Family Violence Protection (Information Sharing and Risk Management) Regulations 2018.

[13] Victorian Government 2018, Everybody Matters: inclusion and equity statement https://www.vic.gov.au/everybody-matters-inclusion-and-equity-statementExternal Link .

[14] Approximately 19 SFVAs are in alcohol and other drugs (AOD) services (and approximately 21 are in mental health services).

[15] The internal departmental working group comprises representatives from the DFFH including from Multicultural Affairs, Office for the Prevention of Family Violence and Coordination, Office for Youth and Child Safeguarding.

[16] Note: Domestic Violence Victoria and Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria united to form Safe and Equal in November 2021.

[17] Note: Domestic Violence Victoria and Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria united to form Safe and Equal in November 2021.

Reviewed 09 May 2022

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