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Focus area 1: Building workforce capability

Preventing and responding to family violence is everyone’s business. Building workforce capability is vital in creating a system that works together in response to the complexities of family violence. Capability development initiatives will strengthen the deep expertise and practice wisdom held by the specialist sectors and the skills and knowledge of workforces that intersect with family violence.

Additionally, the Royal Commission identified the need to ensure all workforces are capable of fulfilling their particular role in preventing and responding to family violence, recommending a consistent approach to developing capability in mainstream and universal services.2

While the need for capability building will continue, it is expected that the balance of actions to support this will shift in future Rolling Action Plans.

The actions in this focus area are underpinned by the Responding to Family Violence Capability Framework and the Preventing Family Violence and Violence Against Women Capability Framework, which were developed with the specialist sectors3 and released with Building from Strength.

The 10-Year Community Services Industry Plan also places a focus on capability building, offering opportunities for aligned work to maximise outcomes.

This focus area will also build the capability required for the successful implementation of the new Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management Framework, also known as the MARAM.

Why it’s important

  • Workforce capability across specialist and non-specialist workforces is fundamental to successful reform, and critical in ensuring that the indicators of family violence are recognised early, to ensure that all victim survivors, including children and young people, are supported appropriately, that perpetrators are held to account, and that opportunities for primary prevention are maximised.
  • A consistent and collaborative approach to risk assessment and risk management is required across all parts of the service system to ensure victims’ safety and perpetrator accountability. This shared responsibility is explained in the MARAM and embedded in the Family Violence Protection Act 2008. This provides a clear authorising environment and legal obligation to support a broad range of workforces to undertake family violence risk assessment and risk management.
  • The 2017 Census found that most respondents who stated they were ‘not confident’ in identifying and responding to family violence had not completed training. Those who had completed training overwhelmingly said they were ‘somewhat confident’ or ‘confident’ in identifying family violence.4

Strengthening the Foundations outcomes

  1. Existing specialist and non-specialist workers are accessing tailored education, training and professional development opportunities consistent with the prevention and response capability frameworks, so they have the skills to prevent family violence, support victim survivors and hold perpetrators to account.
  2. Professionals from prescribed organisations in specialist and nonspecialist sectors understand and act within the MARAM framework and their responsibilities in its implementation, resulting in improved identification and management of family violence risk, and increased safety for those with lived experience of family violence.
  3. Organisations and new workers joining the specialist sectors have a range of clear pathways and supports to enter the sectors and meet minimum qualification requirements.

Key foundational priorities to support this focus area

This plan aims to address immediate upskilling needs as well as set the foundations to embed sustainable capability building approaches. This focus area prioritises:

  • Building capability across specialist and non-specialist workforces to support the implementation of MARAM. The aim of MARAM is to increase the safety and wellbeing of Victorians by ensuring all relevant services contribute effectively to the identification, assessment and management of family violence risk, according to their roles and responsibilities.
  • Building capability in primary prevention, for practitioners and contributors. Embedding primary prevention in Victoria’s communities is a key piece of prevention infrastructure to support long term shifts in the prevalence of family violence.
  • Building capability of entrants to the sector to support the rapid growth in the specialist response and prevention sectors and support the implementation of mandatory minimum qualifications for specialist family violence response practitioners.

Actions

1.1 Roll out MARAM tools and practice guidance for professionals who work with victim survivors.

1.2 Develop MARAM perpetrator tools and practice guidance for professionals who work with perpetrators of family violence.

1.3 Deliver MARAM training program to support organisations to understand their roles and responsibilities and act in accordance with their legal obligations.

1.4 Deliver MARAM Collaborative Practice Training to equip prescribed professionals to collaborate across services and workforces to embed MARAM and ensure the best outcomes for victim survivors.

1.5 Develop learning and assessment resources on working with male perpetrators of family violence.

1.6 Further develop The Lookout as a clearinghouse and ‘go to’ source for up to date policy and practice changes and advice on prevention for specialist and non-specialist workforces.

1.7 Build the skills, knowledge and capability of existing and emerging workforces to work effectively with perpetrators.

1.8 Continue to build specialist capability in primary prevention, including through communities of practice, induction programs for new practitioners, and training for supervisors.

1.9 Deliver training for primary prevention contributors to build capability to prevent family violence and violence against women.

1.10 Deliver training for disability and social service workers to embed primary prevention into their work.

1.11 Deliver the Fast Track Professional Development Program to support the rapid development of practitioners into response and prevention roles.

1.12 Deliver the Family Violence Practice Social Work Graduate Program in two locations, providing social work graduates with training, professional development and supervision.

1.13 Build capability in specialist family violence workers to identify legal issues, provide legal information and make timely and appropriate referrals to lawyers and other services.

1.14 Implement minimum qualifications for the specialist family violence response sector from 2020 to strengthen the deep expertise, knowledge and practice wisdom held by the specialist family violence response workforce, and to equip sector entrants with the capability they need for this specialised, complex work.

1.15 Review and update Victoria’s first capability frameworks for prevention and response to ensure they continue to accurately articulate the skills and knowledge needed to prevent family violence and violence against women.

MARAM Framework

The MARAM Framework, which replaces the Common Risk Assessment Framework (CRAF), has been redeveloped to address the issues and gaps identified by the Royal Commission, the Coronial Inquest into the death of Luke Geoffrey Batty and the 2016 Monash Review of the framework. It aims to improve the identification, assessment and management of family violence risk.

Significant work is underway to implement MARAM and the Family Violence Information Sharing (FVIS) scheme. This includes training, change management support and a range of guidance materials being developed by Family Safety Victoria (FSV) and other government departments.

The following example illustrates the importance of building capability across specialist and non-specialist workforces to support the successful implementation of MARAM.

A young pregnant woman arrived with her partner at the emergency department, presenting with bleeding and abdominal pain. The nurse noticed that the patient was withdrawn, appeared depressed and identified that missed antenatal care had not been followed up. The partner did not let the patient speak for herself during the consultation.

The nurse distracted the partner by asking him to assist with paperwork in a separate room while the nurse supported the patient to have a physical examination. The nurse asked screening questions in line with the MARAM Framework to identify family violence risks. The patient disclosed that her partner was verbally threatening and controlling of her movements and connection with her family, and had been physically violent in the past.

With the patient’s consent, the nurse called the local Orange Door service where a specialist family violence worker completed a risk assessment which included an information request to Victoria Police (under the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme) about the patient’s partner, seeking information on his history of violence and other risk-relevant information to inform the assessment.

The Orange Door worker was informed that the partner had a previous charge for physical assault against the patient, a prior history of violence and had breached an intervention order against a former partner. The information about the perpetrator’s history of family violence was able to be shared with the victim survivor under the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme to support the safety planning for her and her child. She was later able to use this information to provide relevant information to the court regarding the child’s safety when seeing his father.

Minimum qualifications for the specialist family violence response sector

The Royal Commission called for a staged introduction of mandatory qualifications (Bachelor of Social Work or equivalent degree) for specialist family violence response practitioners.

A minimum qualification for entry to the specialist family violence response sector is complex. This recommendation must be implemented in a way that prepares new practitioners for the complexity of specialist family violence work, whilst also minimising any unintended consequences such as exacerbating workforce supply challenges.

It is also important that implementation of a mandatory minimum qualification recognises and honours the commitment, skills and knowledge of existing practitioners, the need to retain the existing workforce to facilitate capability building from within the sector, the cultural and lived experience many individuals bring to their work, the unique cultural knowledge of Aboriginal practitioners and the barriers to education and training faced by individuals from diverse backgrounds.

Based on extensive consultation, Building from Strength announced that:

  • The minimum standard will apply to all future practitioners employed to provide services directly to victims or perpetrators of family violence in a specialist family violence capacity, within a service funded by the Victorian Government. This includes practitioners in specialist family violence services and family violence practitioners embedded in broader services.

  • The existing specialist family violence workforce will be exempt, in recognition of the significant skills, knowledge and experience already in the sector.

An implementation model has been developed to outline the skills and knowledge that new practitioners need, while recognising the strength in diversity and the need for flexible pathways into the sector.

In line with Aboriginal self-determination, the design of pathways and support for Aboriginal practitioners will be led by the Dhelk Dja Partnership Forum, through the implementation of Dhelk Dja: Safe Our Way Strategic Priority Three: Self-determining Aboriginal family violence support and services.

Model for implementation of Recommendation 209 

Scenario 

Outcome Additional information  
Candidate is employed in the specialist family violence sector at commencement of transition period Eligible for employment as a specialist family violence worker.

Exemption is for existing employees at commencement of transition; it includes employees on approved leave (including parental leave, long service leave, annual leave, sick leave and leave without pay).

‘Continuity of service’ provides for breaks from the industry of up to four years, consistent with the Portable Long Service Leave Scheme.

Candidate holds a Bachelor of Social Work or Master of
Social Work (qualifying degree)
Eligible for
employment as a specialist family violence worker.
A five-year transition period commencing in 2020 will align with the roll out of recommendation 208 (which called for family violence to be embedded as core curriculum in all undergraduate social work degrees); social work graduates at the end of the transition will have studied family violence as core curriculum, based on the Responding to Family Violence Capability Framework.
Candidate holds
another degree qualification – deemed equivalent on basis of agreed principles
Eligible for
employment as a specialist family violence worker.
A framework of principles will be developed in 2019 to determine whether a course is considered equivalent or related. This will be determined by considering the competencies acquired in a social work degree.

Candidate has significant
professional experience in a related field; 

OR

Candidate holds another qualification (VET or Higher Ed) – deemed related on basis of agreed principles.

Requires a specialist
qualification in
family violence

In addition to the principles referred to above, this pathway may require the development of a bespoke qualification aligned to the Responding to Family Violence Capability Framework. If delivered in the VET sector, entry, delivery and assessment could be flexible to increase accessibility. This will build on the development of accredited units of competency underway.


The level of the qualification and required experience will be defined in the framework of principles referenced above.

Candidate brings significant cultural knowledge and
experience, or lived experience (for example, of disability, migrant or refugee
experience, of family violence) and experiences barriers to accessing the
pathways above.
Eligible for
employment as a
specialist family
violence worker if
working towards
one of the above
pathways with
appropriate
support, and
has supervision
with qualified
and experienced
practitioner

Support for candidates in this category could include workplace delivery and assessment of qualifications, support to apply for VET or tertiary courses, and mentoring to assist with study in addition to clinical supervision.

In line with Aboriginal self-determination, the design of pathways and support for Aboriginal workers will be led by Aboriginal stakeholders through the development and implementation of the Aboriginal 10 Year Family Violence Agreement.

In recognition of the significant supply challenges for the sector, candidates could be employed while working towards one of the available qualification pathways during the transition period.

Recommendation 209 aims to ensure a high level of knowledge and skills in practitioners entering the specialist family violence system. It is only one part of supporting specialist capability and does not replace transition to practice support, quality supervision, ongoing professional development and sound recruitment practices, including to determine readiness and suitability for career progression.

Implementation of the recommendation will be supported by a comprehensive communication strategy for potential workers and employers, and implementation toolkit for employers. Work will be undertaken in 2019-20 to explore organisational readiness for implementation, and to consider what support might be required for potential workers from diverse backgrounds.

Implementation will be carefully monitored throughout the transition period, with a mid-transition review of the impact of the recommendation. Ongoing monitoring and evaluation will inform future directions, including consideration of qualification pathways for prevention practitioners, and potential consideration of an accreditation scheme.

Footnotes

2 State of Victoria, Royal Commission into Family Violence: Report and recommendations, Vol V, Parl Paper No 132 (2014-16).
3 Led by Domestic Violence Victoria, DVRCV, No To Violence, Our Watch and Women’s Health Victoria.
4 State of Victoria, Census of Workforces that Intersect with Family Violence: Companion report to Building from Strength: 10-Year Industry Plan for Family Violence Prevention and Response (2017).

Reviewed 24 November 2019

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