During the RCFV, a number of common data gaps were identified in the current family violence evidence base. It was noted that there is a lack of available data to support critical decision making, policy development, planning, research and evaluation activities. The report published by the RCFV outlined gaps in knowledge regarding:
- the demographic characteristics of priority communities, in particular, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities, people with disabilities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, and older people
- the number of unique clients and the extent to which individuals have multiple engagements with agencies and services related to family violence over time
- a person’s interactions with the system, which is based on the ability to link individuals across different data sets
- the extent of family violence beyond heterosexual intimate partner violence
Addressing the RCFV recommendations
The Crime Statistics Agency (CSA) was commissioned by the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) to address a number of RCFV recommendations related to the collection and reporting of family violence data. The Victorian Family Violence Data Collection Framework (the framework) addresses aspects of three of these recommendations, with the relevant content of these summarised below.
This framework was been developed in consultation with a range of stakeholders, listed at page 109, and with significant input from Family Safety Victoria (FSV).
Recommendation 204 – Improve state-wide family violence data collection and research
Improvements to be made to state-wide family violence data collection and research, through developing a state-wide data framework, informed by relevant Commonwealth standards – for example, relevant Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) frameworks such as the National Data Collection and Reporting Framework (DCRF) guidelines and Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) guidance. The framework should include guidelines on the collection of demographic information – in particular, on older people, people with disabilities and people from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, culturally and linguistically diverse and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities.
Recommendation 152 – Improve the collection of Indigenous data relating to family violence
Improve the collection of Indigenous-specific data relating to family violence so that this can be shared with communities, organisations and governance forums to inform local, regional and statewide responses.
Recommendation 170 – Adopt a consistent and comprehensive approach to data collection on people with disabilities
The Victorian Government will adopt a consistent and comprehensive approach to the collection of data on people with disabilities who experience or perpetrate family violence.
What is the framework?
The framework is a tool for government and non-government service providers and agencies who collect administrative data in the context of family violence. The framework will help service providers and agencies standardise the collection of administrative information, improving data collection practices and subsequently advancing the existing evidence base concerning family violence in Victoria.
The framework contains information and standards regarding the collection of general and demographic data items, with a particular focus on the community groups identified as a priority by the RCFV and through consultations conducted during the development of the framework. These groups include the priority groups listed in recommendation 204, as well as children and young people who were revealed as a key data gap during consultation.
The purpose of the framework is not to set a standard definition of family violence for government departments, agencies and service providers to use, as this is established through the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic). Instead, the framework is comprised of a set of data collection standards which organisations can elect to use in order to improve their collection of data concerning family violence. However, the framework is not intended to function as a data dictionary. As such, it is the responsibility of government departments, agencies and service providers to determine how each data collection standard can fit into their data collection guidelines and infrastructure.
The Victorian Family Violence Data Collection Framework focuses on driving improvement in data related to clients and their experiences of family violence. Improvements in the consistency and quality of this information will assist government, agencies and service providers to better understand:
- Who experiences family violence?
- Number of unique people affected (as victim survivors and perpetrators)
- Demographic profile of people involved
- Visibility of priority communities in data
- Barriers to access and need for assistance
- Geographic proximity to client base
- How do people experience family violence?
- Types of family violence experienced
- Persons involved and their role in the family violence
- Characteristics of an event
It should be noted that the framework does not include data items on types of service delivery, outputs or outcomes. Service delivery data items are determined by departments as part of their agreements with service providers. Outcomes specific to family violence are detailed in the Family Violence Outcomes Framework, published in Ending Family Violence: Victoria’s plan for change.
Who is the framework for?
The data collection standards presented in the framework are intended for use by all government departments, agencies or service providers who have the capacity to collect information in the context of family violence.
Figure 1 provides a broad overview of the services that have responsibility for responding to victim survivors or perpetrators of family violence and indicates the types of services the data collection framework is relevant to. This figure uses the four-tier classification originally developed by the Domestic Violence Resource Centre. The RCFV noted that these tiers provide a good starting point for thinking about workforce competencies, and they have been utilised within Building from Strength: 10-year industry plan for family violence prevention and response (Building from Strength) and the Responding to Family Violence Capability Framework.
Tier 1: Specialist family violence and sexual assault practitioners
These specialists spend 90% or more of their time working with victim survivors or perpetrators or engaged in primary prevention activities. Tier 1 practitioners or teams may form part of larger organisations that provide a range of services, or they may be employed in stand-alone services. What they have in common as practitioners is that their sole or major focus is on family violence and/or sexual assault, or on primary prevention.
- Statewide family violence crisis and specialist services
- The Orange Door
- Family violence outreach services
- Women’s refuges
- Centres Against Sexual Assault
- Perpetrator intervention services
- Men’s family violence telephone/online services
- Crisis family violence and sexual assault telephone/online services
- Specialist family violence or sexual assault professionals operating in Tier 2 or 3 services
- Specialist family violence or sexual assault services for Aboriginal or culturally and linguistically diverse women and children or women and children with a disability
Tier 2: Workers in core support services or intervention agencies
Responding to family violence is not the primary focus of these workforces, but they spend a significant proportion of their time responding to victim survivors or perpetrators.
- Courts and court services
- Legal and paralegal agencies and services
- Family dispute resolution services
- Forensic physicians and medical staff providing sexual assault crisis care
- Child Protection
- Child and Family Services
- Family and relationship services
- Homelessness services
Tier 3: Workers in mainstream services and non-family violence specific agencies
While their work is not family violence, they work in sectors that respond to the impacts of family violence, or in an area where early signs of people experiencing family violence can be noted.
- Health care services
- Drug and alcohol services
- Housing services
- Mental health services
- Individuals providing therapeutic services
- Emergency services
- Maternal and Child Health Services
- Youth services
- Disability services
- Culturally and linguistically diverse services
- Aboriginal services
- Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse and intersex services
- Aged care services
Tier 4: Workers in universal services and organisations
Because they interact with children and families in their day-to-day roles, these workers are likely to have regular and extended contact with victim survivors or perpetrators.
Includes workplaces, education services, early childhood services, sport and recreation organisations and faith based institutions.
Figure 1: Workforces that have responsibility for responding to victim survivors or perpetrators. Modified from Building from Strength and the Responding to Family Violence Capability Framework.2, 3
In addition, although the data collection framework was created specifically to improve the quality of family violence data, it may also provide guidance for government departments, agencies and service providers striving to improve the quality and consistency of demographic information, both generally and from priority communities.
Why use the framework?
As previously noted, the RCFV found that there are serious gaps in our knowledge about the characteristics of victim survivors and perpetrators, and about how systems that respond to family violence are working. This is particularly with respect to people from priority communities.
In their report ‘Bridging the data gaps for family, domestic and sexual violence, 2013’, the ABS identified priority themes to improve the evidence base concerning family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia. The priorities identified were to:4
- improve the quality and comparability of existing data sources
- maximise the utility of existing sources
- augment existing data sources to address priority gap areas
The ABS noted the potential of administrative data sources to fulfil the aforementioned data needs. Administrative data are a useful source of information as they utilise existing infrastructure and have the potential to yield information about specific target populations. Data collected in this context are ideal for informing practical decisions about service provision, resource capacity and utilisation, as well as the impacts and outcomes of contact with services.
The content included in this framework aims to meet the priorities identified by the ABS concerning the collection of administrative data related to family violence in Victoria. Standardising the collection of demographic data items and improving administrative data on types of family violence can support broader work to build the evidence base about the impact of family violence on communities.
Development of the framework
Figure 2 below shoes the process carried out by the CSA to create the framework. Consultation was an essential part of the development of this framework. For a full list of stakeholders consulted, please see page 109.Figure 2: Development phases of the framework
2 Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) 2007, Family Violence Risk Assessment and Risk Management Framework, Victoria, p.9.
3 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) 2018, Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia 2018, Cat. no. FDV 2, Canberra.
4 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) 2013, 4529.0.00.002 Bridging the data gaps for family, domestic and sexual violence, viewed 12 June 2018, www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4529.0.00.002main+features332013