1. Provide clear and consistent leadership
Clear leadership is integral to the implementation of information sharing and MARAM on several levels.
FSV leads the reforms by ensuring departments, prescribed agencies and sector peaks receive consistent and accurate messaging. Departments and sector peaks lead by using these key messages, tailoring communications for their workforces, and using tailored guidance to implement the reforms. Departments and sector peaks have played a critical role within their areas of responsibility in ensuring sector readiness and the long-term cultural change necessary to implement and embed the reforms.
- FSV practice notes to support specialists and universal services with pandemic relevant risk assessment and management resources
- The courts developed MARAM-aligned tools and practice guidance for risk assessments and safety planning for family violence practitioners while working remotely during the coronavirus pandemic
- Online training across FSV, DHHS and DJCS to support prescribed sectors
- Centres Against Sexual Assault (CASA) Forum established working groups to support alignment and implementation
- VAADA held several workshops and forums across the state to support the sector to understand their information sharing obligations and MARAM responsibilities
- CAV have built the capability of the practitioners in Financial Counselling Program (FCP) and Tenancy Assistance and Advocacy Program (TAAP) through tailored MARAM tools, guides, training and regular communications
For the third consecutive year, FSV funded $1.5 million worth of grants directly to the sector. These funds were distributed by FSV, DHHS and DJCS to 16 peak or other representative bodies from Phase 1 workforces across the service system to provide direct implementation support. This included five ACCOs.
Some highlights from the sector grants work in 2019–20 include:
- development of cross-sector understanding and relationships through the MARAM and Information Sharing Sector Capacity Building Working Group and Aboriginal Working Group
- production and sharing of culturally appropriate case studies, information sheets and practice guides tailored to workforces and reflecting people’s experience of family violence
- webinar produced collaboratively by CASA Forum, Domestic Violence Victoria (DV Vic) and No to Violence (NTV): ‘Responding to serious risk and sexual assault’
- Collaboration across a variety of sectors including Aboriginal services, Disability Services, and Multicultural services to better support the intersectionality aspect of MARAM alignment
- The five funded ACCOs established a bi-monthly community of practice to develop responses to the MARAM reforms.
To ensure consistency and continuity of leadership, all 2019–20 sector grant recipients were invited to submit funding and project proposals for 2020–21.
Sector grants in use
The ACCOs that make up the Sector Capacity Building Aboriginal Working Group hold a bimonthly community of practice (CoP).
The CoP aims to facilitate a culturally inclusive, trauma-informed and safe meeting space where conversations and collaborative practice continue to thrive. It has become a valuable, independent forum to work through complex and crucial issues and has strengthened our networks and our working relationships.
The MARAM ACCO CoP is a strong, bonded group comprising Dardi Munwurro, Djirra, Elizabeth Morgan House, VACCA and VACSAL. While the CoP does not claim to represent or speak for the Victorian Aboriginal community, the underlying values and purpose of the group echo the founding principle of self-determination as outlined in Dhelk Dja: Safe our way (2018).
The CoP’s collective response aims to highlight the best approach, practice and advice so that a cultural perspective and framework is heard, understood and embedded within the family violence sector. The CoP uses its position and experience to provide collective advocacy for the Aboriginal community and to build capacity and capability.
A significant responsibility of the CoP is to provide culturally inclusive responses to requests from government. Through a united voice in response to MARAM alignment, the CoP provides a culturally framed focus on specific issues that impact on the Aboriginal community.
The CoP has had many achievements so far, including:
- advocating for more Aboriginal voices in training
- highlighting the importance of cultural training
The CoP also:
- provides leadership in driving agenda and discussion topics in ACCO and mainstream working groups
- participates in evaluations and provides a collective response
- provides reviews of crucial documents including the MARAM Practice Guidelines and Family Violence modules
- advocates for additional collective funding for review of documents.
The CoP continues to provide advice about how culturally safe approaches can be incorporated into the MARAM materials for ACCOs and mainstream organisations. The next step is to share and extend the learnings to the wider sector, by providing guidance with a clear cultural lens.
Specialist Family Violence Advisors (SFVA)
Through Industry Plan funds, DHHS has funded 44 SFVA in Mental Health and AOD services, who in turn provide information to DHHS and FSV Centre for Workforce Excellence on the actions taken under the initiative. This ensures specialist family violence advice is available to AOD and Mental Health practitioners, whom the Royal Commission identified as playing a critical role in identifying and responding to family violence.
The SFVA roles help support MARAM alignment by supporting practitioners in identifying, assessing and managing family violence risk and promoting collaborative practice with other agencies.
Information held by Victoria Police is crucial to keeping perpetrators in view and accountable for their actions and behaviours. Victoria Police have promoted the importance of information sharing by engaging closely with other Information Sharing Entities (ISEs) to improve the processes for requesting information. As a result, the request form (and associated processes) were updated to be more intuitive for ISE, ensuring the correct information was requested and released in accordance with Ministerial guidelines to avoid delays.
Victoria Police continues to participate in Whole of Government governance groups and engages with Phase 2 framework organisations for preparation towards additional information sharing requests.
The Magistrates’ Court of Victoria (MCV) and the Children’s Court of Victoria (CCV) (collectively known as ‘the courts’) and the funded agency Court Network established a shared project to align court operations with the MARAM Framework. The project’s implementation roadmap outlines a three-year plan to align the courts with the MARAM framework, with key milestones for each year. In addition, the courts have mapped responsibilities for initial family violence identification and screening, and risk assessment and management.
The roadmap helps support MARAM alignment throughout every level of the courts process.
In 2020–21, the courts will develop an overarching MARAM policy and embed the framework into existing operating guidelines and practice models, such as the specialist family violence courts (SFVC) model, bench clerk manuals and practitioners’ guidelines. In September 2019 the Shepperton SFVC commenced, the Ballarat SFVC commenced operation in November 2019 and the Moorabbin SFVC commenced operation on 16 March 2020.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Court Network launched a telephone support model in May 2020. The phone model is staffed by volunteers who support court users to navigate the justice system. The practice model includes universal screening in line with base level MARAM screening and identification of family violence.
Court Network volunteers supported 32,470 court users with family violence related matters in 2019–2020.
MARAM planning and implementation is underway for Child Protection, Housing, secure welfare services and Hurstbridge Farm. DHHS have convened a MARAM Implementation Steering Group to oversee the implementation activity across these prescribed workforces and provided leadership for the reforms.
Victoria’s Director of Housing manages over 62,000 properties, providing safe, long-term housing to people on low incomes. Priority is given to those most in need, including people who have recently experienced family violence.
A new housing operating model will be introduced during the 2020–21 financial year; Housing Service Officer (HSO) roles will be realigned in their relationship to Victorian Public Service (VPS) roles, and over 130 amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 are being progressively implemented, including specific provisions concerning family violence that were established in mid-2020.
FSV – The Orange Door
The Orange Door is coordinated by FSV.
The Orange Door model brings together specialist family violence services, children and family services, Aboriginal services and perpetrator services to deliver integrated assessment and access to support. This incorporates tailored support for women and children experiencing family violence, holistic support for Aboriginal families in local communities, help with the care and wellbeing of children, and work with perpetrators to manage risk and change behaviours.
A recent report by the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) assessed whether The Orange Door sites are providing effective and efficient service coordination for women and families and in particular whether DHHS and FSV:
- designed and planned the hubs effectively
- effectively support and oversee the operation of the five open hubs
- have reliable performance measurement and continuous improvement processes.
The VAGO report concluded that the hubs are not yet realising their full potential to improve the lives of people affected by family violence. The report recognised that FSV is working to improve the implementation of future sites and continues to build on the learnings of implementation to inform the future roll out of The Orange Door Network. DHHS and FSV have accepted all nine recommendations of the VAGO Audit.
FSV will work with all partner agencies and key stakeholders to embed MARAM into existing and new The Orange Door sites. This will include supporting the workforce to utilise the MARAM tools in TRAM for their risk assessment and safety planning for adult and child victim survivors ensuring greater consistency of identification, risk assessment and management.
Family Violence Peak Bodies
Domestic Violence Victoria
DV Vic as the peak body for SFVS established and facilitated a community of practice (CoP) with a focus on applying the MARAM and Information Sharing Schemes in practice. The group provides opportunities to share experiences, discuss emerging issues and support consistent practice while driving change within organisations across the state.
The group is run online to support member service participation from regional and remote areas. However, this format has also allowed the CoP to continue and not be disrupted due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
Fourteen CoP sessions have been delivered to SFVS Practice Leads. Topics have included:
- operationalising tools for risk assessment and management
- risk assessment and safety planning with victim survivors with a disability
- tilting to the perpetrator
- working collaboratively with perpetrator services
- risk and safety during COVID-19
- person-centred empowerment during COVID-19
- maintaining child-centred practice during COVID-19
- collaboration and advocacy during COVID-19
- perpetrator accountability during COVID-19.
The Practice Lead CoP has been successful in:
- promoting a model of best practice standards and work towards state-wide consistent, transparent and accountable practice
- providing a foundation to generate and manage a body of knowledge for ongoing reflection of practice and continuous improvement
- providing a consistent online platform to host resources to inform practice and strengthen program delivery
- providing opportunities for peer support and the exchange of ideas and information
- gathering and sharing evidence from practice to inform policy, advocacy and the broader reform agenda.
No to Violence
No to Violence (NTV) supported the Victorian men’s specialist family violence services in the implementation of the MARAM and Information Sharing (MARAMIS) reforms through a combination of targeted capacity building initiatives.
NTV developed a coaching model that involved reaching out to team leaders and coordinators within men’s specialist family violence services to determine their specific needs around support implementing MARAM and information sharing. If services were interested in engaging NTV to facilitate a workshop with leadership or practitioners, they completed a pre-workshop survey to determine the target areas of content. The Practice Development Officer then visited services onsite and facilitated a tailored workshop to support embedding the reforms in practice. The visits were also an opportunity to offer team leaders assistance with workforce mapping and implementation of alignment through the NTV resources ‘Workforce mapping tool’ and ‘Self-audit alignment tool’.
NTV then followed-up with established key contacts to provide resources and support in response to the workshop discussions, and any actions that came out of the completion of the mapping and alignment tools, such as reviewing implementation plans and providing guidance on training requirements.
Assessment of MARAM progress
Given the complexity of the MARAM reforms, which have required a Whole of Government change management approach, clear and consistent leadership is integral to delivering consistent service delivery. The coordination and oversight of the reforms involves many sectors and government portfolios and requires that government, peak and industry bodies and services work together.
Cube Group led the early evaluation of the MARAM reforms and produced a final report in June 2020. The report recognised many strengths in leadership towards achieving the reform outcomes including highly consultative governance forums and robust discussions of key policy issues. The decision to integrate governance for the MARAM, FVISS and CISS reforms was challenging, but it successfully allowed important overlapping issues to be managed. Where available, FSV’s active support has been positive.
All departments have experienced challenges primarily created by uncertainty. Short-term funding, the challenge of retaining staff with short-term contracts and competing priorities from other reform programs are key contributors to this context. This has been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The leadership actions taken to date have ensured that Phase 1 workforces have taken important steps towards building a shared understanding of family violence and identifying the way in which services can respond to family violence. A considerable amount of work remains to be done for Phase 1 workforces, including embedding a MARAM-aligned family violence response through tailored training, developing MARAM aligned resources and building collaborative practice (see chapters 2 and 3).
Departments and the workforces within their remit each have a unique context for implementation that naturally requires variation in implementation approaches. It is important for central department specialist teams to work closely with business units to facilitate a nuanced approach to implementation activities that considers the varied roles of prescribed business units and the context in which they work. FSV will continue to take a centralised lead role, supporting departments to achieve MARAM outcomes as outlined in their individual departmental and sector grant project alignment plans, and by providing oversight and change management advice.
The early evaluation of the MARAM reforms by the Cube Group recommended that departments remain best placed to lead change management for their own sectors, and that the plans for change management will need expanding considerably to achieve the MARAM outcomes and in the future through the development of a maturity model of alignment. FSV has already taken such steps through the release of an organisational embedding guidance that provides clear, published guidance MARAM alignment which will be foundational for a maturity model.
Funding for sector grants and for SFVA positions will assist in the connection between departmental change management plans and translation to practice support for the workforces.
 Noting DJCS includes Victoria Police and the Courts.
 Ibid., p. 62.
 Ibid., p. 14.
 Ibid., p. 62.
 Ibid., p. 90.
 See the ‘MARAM organisational embedding guide’ section in chapter 2.