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4. Reinforce good practice and commitment to continuous improvement

4. Reinforce good practice and commitment to continuous improvement

As the information sharing schemes have rolled out and organisations align with MARAM, opportunities to share key lessons on what has and has not worked in practice is integral to the continued improvement of service systems.

Mechanisms to encourage the sharing of these lessons through feedback loops both within workforces, and across sectors have assisted in the refinement of practice, and present opportunities for continued learning and development beyond formal training. This knowledge has been gleaned from several mechanisms such as efforts to support workforces through sector peaks (for example communities of practice), as well as formal evaluations.

Early evaluation of the implementation of the MARAM reforms

In March 2019, FSV commissioned Cube Group to develop a M&E Framework for MARAM and to conduct an early implementation evaluation.

In June 2020, Cube Group provided the final report of the early implementation evaluation. The evaluation finds that MARAM is a complex and extensive program of work that is foundational to the Victorian family violence reforms. The report notes that, while considerable progress has been made in the development of MARAM, there is a need for a renewed approach to implementation in several areas.

The evaluation makes 35 recommendations (summarised below) to improve the implementation of MARAM in the areas of design of the reforms, delivery, governance, accountability, change management and capability development.

  • Design of the MARAM reforms: Significant progress has been made in addressing the weaknesses identified by the Royal Commission, but further attention is needed to develop sector-specific guides on MARAM and to provide more concise guidance materials on MARAM responsibilities.
  • Delivery: Greater oversight from governance bodies is needed and a clearer process for managing delays.
  • Governance: Whole of Government roles in delivery need to be re-set to affirm current responsibilities for development of materials and tailoring to particular workforces. Each sector needs a central governance coordination team with good family violence expertise for at least the next three years.
  • Accountability: While the legislative obligation to align to MARAM and the Ministerial reporting process aim to provide accountability for MARAM implementation, there are no specific indicators or expectations for Framework organisations to determine if they are meeting their obligations. More specific guidance should be provided to organisations via a maturity model. Consistent indicators should be provided in Ministerial reports via an annual survey of framework organisations.
  • Change management: Funding for change management to departments and sector grant recipients should be linked to delivery of change management plans and agencies should be given more autonomy to lead implementation for their unique operational contexts.
  • Capability development: A more sustainable plan for training large numbers of workers needs to be developed and improvements should be made to the content of current MARAM training modules. Face to face training should be prioritised for workforces with lower family violence literacy. Practice leadership roles in non-specialist agencies should be explored as another method to increase workforce capability.

FSV is working with other departments and agencies on a plan to implement the recommendations of the evaluation.

The recommendations of the Cube Group interim report will continue to serve as a useful focus on future alignment initiatives, against which progress will likely be measured in the five-year evaluation

Two-year review of the family violence information sharing legislative scheme

The Royal Commission found that effective and appropriate sharing of information is crucial to keep victim survivors safe and hold perpetrators to account. The Royal Commission also identified a number of barriers that exist in Victoria that prevent effective information sharing and the potentially catastrophic consequences of not sharing information.

The FVISS was created through a Part 5A of the FVPA and commenced in February 2018. The FVISS aims to create a cultural shift in information sharing practice through change to the authorising environment. The aim of this shift is to support improved assessment and management of family violence risk through information sharing between prescribed entities.

The FVPA requires that an independent review of the operation of the scheme be undertaken two years after commencement of the FVISS and tabled in Parliament. The independent review was undertaken by a team of researchers from Monash University.

The recommendations of the review aim to improve the operation of the FVISS and the FVISS implementation in Phase 2 organisations.

The review was guided by seven questions.

  1. Has the FVISS been implemented effectively to date?
  2. Has the FVISS been implemented as intended to date?
  3. Has the implementation of the FVISS had any adverse organisational impacts?
  4. What were the key barriers and enablers for implementation?
  5. Has the FVISS resulted in increased levels of relevant information sharing between prescribed agencies?
  6. Has the FVISS led to improved outcomes for victim/survivors and increased the extent to which perpetrators are in view?
  7. Has the FVISS had any adverse impacts?

The review found that implementation of the FVISS has been broadly successful and has resulted in an increase in the volume and risk relevance of information shared about perpetrators. The report made 22 recommendations with areas for improvement including:

  • the need to increase the capability of a range of workforces included in the FVISS through an improved training strategy
  • the need to include perpetrator focused risk assessment and management tools in implementation to Phase 2 workforces
  • how the FVISS addresses the impact on Aboriginal people.

A Whole of Government response to the recommendations has been published that supports all recommendations of the review and outlines an implementation plan. In response to the areas identified for improvement by the Monash FVISS review, several high-level priorities have been identified by FSV and will be the basis of ongoing review and inclusion in further alignment activities:

  • Impact on Aboriginal Victorians: Aboriginal perspectives gathered through consultation are embedded as a core principle in the MARAM Framework, as well as in practice guidance, tools and training. FSV will continue to explore the impact of the reforms on Aboriginal Victorians and ensure Aboriginal cultural safety remains central to the reforms. FSV will do so through strengthening internal working relationships between the Centre for Workforce Excellence and the Aboriginal Strategy Unit to identify the links between work areas, support continued engagement of Aboriginal organisations through sector grants and the Dhelk Dja partnership forum and ensure an Aboriginal lens in any revised training strategy for the roll-out of training on the release of the perpetrator practice guidance.
  • Implementation: FSV will work to ensure the development of quality training and resources for the prescription of Phase 2 organisations, considering the likely ongoing impact of COVID-19. Further materials will be developed to support the OEG which will further MARAM and FVISS implementation.

The MARAM Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Framework

Cube Group produced the M&E Framework in collaboration with FSV which is aligned to the Family Violence Outcomes Framework (FVOF).

The MARAM M&E Framework outlines a method to measure contribution towards FVOF outcomes, including increased safety of victim survivors, increasing extent to which perpetrators are in view and earlier intervention.

The MARAM M&E Framework has been provided to all departments and agencies that fund Framework organisations for use in their own monitoring, data gathering and evaluation work. The monitoring plan as part of the M&E Framework was approved by the Information Sharing and MARAM Steering Committee in December 2019.

As part of the M&E Framework, there is annual Framework Survey for completion by framework organisations on MARAM alignment. The plan is to regularly gather data through use of this survey. This was put on hold in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is now planned to be administered for the first time in 2021. Once the survey commences, it will provide more consistent data on MARAM implementation across sectors for use in the MARAM annual report.

Maturity model

The MARAM Framework notes that successful implementation requires significant culture change and system reform, which will take time and effort at all levels of the service system.

Organisations are at different levels of alignment with the Framework, starting with no or minimal alignment and moving through to very strong alignment and sector leadership. Alignment will be an ongoing process as the evidence base develops, along with the understanding of what constitutes good practice. A maturity model for the MARAM reforms will enable organisations to measure their current progress and understand outcomes required to further alignment.

The OEG goes some way to introducing the maturity model concept, in that there are a series of milestones and examples that can be used to measure alignment between ‘none’ and ‘significant’.

The Cube Group Process Evaluation of the MARAM reforms recommends that FSV:

‘prioritise the development and finalisation of a MARAM alignment maturity model to provide a common language for organisational improvement and clear expectations regarding the maturity of alignment expected from prescribed organisations. It should include a clear description of priority areas for effective organisational alignment with MARAM, foundational activities/elements within each priority and definitions for various stages of maturity across each of the priorities’.8

FSV will actively consider this and other recommendations in consultation with government partners in 2020-21.

Building from strength: 10-year Industry Plan for family violence prevention and response

Building from strength: 10-year Industry Plan for family violence prevention and response[31] (the Industry Plan) was developed in response to recommendation 207 of the Royal Commission:[32]

The Victorian Government develop or commission the development of a 10-year Industry Plan for family violence prevention and response in Victoria. The Plan should cover:

  • the workforce requirements of all government and non-government agencies and services that have or will have responsibility for preventing or responding to family violence - among them specialist family violence services, perpetrator interventions, police, legal and justice services, and universal and secondary service systems
  • remuneration, capability and qualifications, workforce diversity, professional development needs, career development and workforce health.

The Industry Plan was released in December 2017 and it aims to sustainably shift the way the system prevents and responds to family violence and violence against women. It sets out a long-term vision for a workforce that is supported, valued, skilled and diverse. At its core is the creation of a system where specialist family violence and primary prevention sectors work together with community services, health, justice, education and training sectors to respond to the complexity and harms of family violence and violence against women, and to prevent it from occurring in the first place. It also outlines directions and immediate priority actions to lay the groundwork for sustained and enduring change.

In November 2019, Strengthening the foundations: first rolling action plan 2019–22, one of three rolling action plans under the Industry Plan, was released to outline the activities under the first tranche of Industry Plan implementation. This includes the development of MARAM and related training.

Several projects have already been undertaken under the Industry Plan that have driven continuous improvement and alignment with MARAM, some of which are referred to within this report, including:

  • funding the specialist family violence advisor positions in the Mental Health and AOD sector
  • the development of an accredited family violence identification and response training course aimed at a foundational level workers’ role including universal workforces which is MARAM aligned
  • launching an attraction and recruitment campaign for the specialist family violence and primarily prevention sectors to increase the specialist support available to the universal workforces
  • addressing workforce supply challenges in the specialist sectors, including through the Enhanced Pathways to Family Violence Work program. In 2019 this program engaged 34 participating agencies, supported by 10 new Capability Building Coordinators, to create placement opportunities for 413 students and provided training supervision for 325 experienced workers. In 2020 the program will expand to engage over 80 organisations and 600 experienced workers, supporting placements for approximately 1,070 students
  • the Intersectionality Capacity Building project is developing a suite of resources to support capacity building on intersectionality for the specialist family violence and broader community services sector, which will include embedding an intersectionality framework. An intersectional approach is a core component of the MARAM Framework.


TRAM provides the MARAM risk assessment tools onto an online platform for practitioner use (including the screening and identification, brief, intermediate, child and comprehensive assessments and the safety plan templates). It was initially rolled out in The Orange Door.

Uptake of TRAM within The Orange Door has steadily increased since the first release in April 2018. Over the last year, 6,785 risk assessments were undertaken by The Orange Door practitioners using TRAM. This was up from a total of 5,064 risk assessments that were undertaken in 2018–19 and represents an annual increase of 34 per cent.

Use of TRAM outside The Orange Door remained steady over 2019–20 with a small number of specialist family violence services continuing to use it on a day-to-day basis. Beyond this, most other specialist family violence organisations decided to wait for the upgrade of the Specialist Homelessness Information Platform (SHIP) with new MARAM tools before adopting online use of these tools as part of their day-to-day practice.

The MARAM portfolio annual report 2018–19 confirmed FSV was exploring opportunities to embed MARAM into SHIP so that MARAM tools are available for all funded Homelessness and specialist family violence services. Significant work progressed on this project during 2019–20, including building in the MARAM tools for release in the second half of 2020. Over the next period, FSV will release the MARAM Tools to all SHIP users and continue to explore options for extending availability of these tools to other workforces.

In early 2020, FSV sought feedback from TRAM users in The Orange Door on how TRAM’s usability could be improved. Several ideas were proposed, including how to better leverage information from The Orange Door Client Relationship Management (CRM) system to reduce double entry and how the user interface could be improved to make completion times quicker. FSV has developed a set of solutions based on this feedback and has followed up with users to validate ideas. FSV plans to implement these changes in 2020–21, along with other upgrades including new tools for working with perpetrators.

The Victims of Crime Helpline will commence a pilot in using TRAM for a six-month period with a view to ongoing implementation and use of the online risk assessment tools in 2020–21.

There is a strong role for TRAM to play among specialist family violence organisations who do not use SHIP and the broader range of Framework organisations beyond specialist family violence, including Homelessness organisations who do not use SHIP. It is anticipated that demand for TRAM will increase as organisations progressively align with the MARAM Framework and incorporate family violence risk assessment tools within their processes. With the onboarding of Phase 2 workforces, FSV will explore opportunities for further development of TRAM to be used by non-specialist services, including the potential to embed it in other IT systems.

The benefits of increased users of TRAM (whether via platforms such as SHIP or directly) is that there is a potential to draw on a more expansive set of consistent data to help understand not only alignment progress, but also expand the evidence base for understanding family violence.

Assessment of MARAM progress

The early evaluations undertaken of the reform progress highlight many strengths and notes that considerable progress has been made in implementation. However, the evaluations also acknowledge the complexities inherent in embedding reforms that require significant cultural and practical change over time.

Two years remains an early stage for a full assessment of progress against outcomes to take place and to identify continuous improvement. The evidence base for assessing progress against the objectives of the MARAM Framework is still being established.

As databases such as VADC are updated, and the online tools in TRAM and SHIP are increasingly used, this will help build data around risk assessments, safety planning and evidence based-risk factors.

The next Phase of work will be built against clearer defined roles between FSV and departments, following the early evaluation of the MARAM by Cube Group, and use of the M&E Framework to better evaluate outcomes.

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