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Prevention and early intervention initiatives

There is a wide range of effective prevention and early intervention initiatives being led by Victorian Aboriginal communities

In our consultations, stakeholders spoke of the longstanding nature of prevention work in Aboriginal communities, much of which predates Victoria’s substantial history of broader effort to prevent family violence and violence against women. Aboriginal stakeholders expressed some disappointment that this rich history of Aboriginal-led prevention hasn’t always been acknowledged. This is in part because of the distinct approach in Aboriginal communities (described in Box 2), which may not always be recognised as formal family violence prevention work.

Box 2: Distinct approach to family violence primary prevention and early intervention in Aboriginal communities

Aboriginal-led family violence primary prevention and early intervention efforts differ from mainstream approaches in three main respects:

Impacts of colonisation as a key driver of family violence: While mainstream prevention models target gender equality as the primary driver for family violence, Aboriginal-led responses also strongly focus on the legacy of colonisation, combined with the impact of continuing discrimination – as reflected in Our Watch’s Changing the Picture framework (see Figure 10 later). Aboriginal stakeholders spoke about some discomfort with the structured gendered analysis that underpins mainstream prevention efforts because it doesn’t sit comfortably with the Aboriginal communities’ inclusive view of family and culture, explaining that while this doesn’t mean gender is irrelevant, it is only one element as the focus is on keeping families together.

Family violence prevention as part of a holistic approach to wellbeing: ACCOs consulted for this report explained that their central focus is on cultural strengthening, connectedness and cultural identity with family and community. This holistic approach to prevention is directed at broad community health and wellbeing outcomes, where family violence is one of a number of areas addressed, and messages on family violence are not always explicit. The focus is on healing all the factors that contribute to family violence and collectively aiming to prevent it, and as a result much of the work that occurs is not formally recognised as family violence prevention. Stakeholders also described that their approach focused much more strongly on the whole of community, including men who are using violence. Providing holistic, culturally responsive, competent and safe wraparound services is a critical approach to all prevention and early intervention work undertaken by ACCOs.

Integrated approach to family violence primary prevention, early intervention and response in Aboriginal communities: Aboriginal-led prevention efforts are often integrated with early intervention, response, and recovery. One stakeholder explained that primary prevention in the Aboriginal community cannot be easily separated as it is in the mainstream model given the significant intergenerational impacts of colonisation, and the historical and ongoing experience of violence and systemic racism in the community. A whole-of-community engagement model is used to raise awareness, address drivers, identify family violence and support victim survivors while engaging with those who use violence – addressing all the factors an individual and family are experiencing. Again, the integrated approach has a strong focus on cultural healing using group and trauma work with men, women and children.

Source: Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor based on information provided through consultations

The Royal Commission recognised the strong history of Aboriginal community-led efforts to prevent and respond to family violence in Victoria. It acknowledged that one of the key outcomes identified in the mid-term evaluation of the Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families: Towards a Safer Future for Indigenous Families and Communities 10-Year Plan 2008–2018External Link was the reduction in stigma associated with family violence. This had been achieved through community-led education and prevention programs over the 12 years leading up to the Royal Commission. It is clear from our consultations and the examples of community initiatives that we have seen that this work has continued strongly because it is being delivered in a wide variety of settings across the state and with different groups within communities.

There are numerous examples of excellent Aboriginal community-led prevention and early intervention initiatives to address family violence – many of which have been featured elsewhere.1 In this report we highlight six specific initiatives aligned with the primary prevention strategies for Aboriginal communities identified in the Indigenous Family Violence Primary Prevention FrameworkExternal Link (see Table 1). While we have presented these as examples of individual prevention strategies, we note that all the initiatives sit across multiple strategies and that the strategies themselves are mutually reinforcing.

Table 1: Aboriginal-led community initiatives aligned with the six primary prevention strategies from the Indigenous Family Violence Primary Prevention Framework

Prevention strategy Example community initiative*
Community information and education Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service’s school education program (see Box 3)
Cultural strengthening Dardi Munwurro’s ‘Aboriginal men taking responsibility and being part of the solution’ project (see Box 4)
Family strengthening Victorian Aboriginal Community Service Association Limited’s Resilience Camps (see Box 5)
Raising community awareness Mullum Mullum’s Ochre Program (see Box 6)
Responding to grief and trauma Bendigo and District Aboriginal Co-operative’s Cultural Therapeutic Support Program (previously known as the Strong Culture, Strong Family program) (see Box 7)
Self-esteem and resilience building Djirra’s Young Luv workshop (see Box 8)
VACCA's Young Koorie Women's Dance Movez Project (see Box 9)

* Funded since the Royal Commission

Box 3: Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service’s (VALS) school education program

The Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service is delivering a community education program for Aboriginal young people on developing strong and healthy relationships. The program covers topics including respecting yourself and your partner, consent and safe sex, and young people and intervention orders. To date, nine sessions have been delivered at a high school and an Aboriginal youth rehabilitation centre, with further sessions scheduled for the second half of 2022.

The workshops use a culturally informed approach to develop young people’s knowledge and understanding of healthy relationships. Yarning circles, smaller break-out groups and case studies are used to prompt a nuanced discussion, not direct young people towards ‘right answers’. Workshops have been designed as a series of three to five sessions at each location, to allow young people to grow more comfortable with the format, develop relationships with each other, and progressively build their understanding of healthy relationships. Sessions hosted in a rehabilitation centre have used informal formats, such as cooking classes, to create safe, non-intimidating spaces for young people to discuss and share their experiences of relationships. A survey of participants found that young people found the workshops a positive learning experience and felt more connected to other Aboriginal young people after the sessions.

A Blak Wattle analysis of the program has made recommendations for improving its effectiveness. These include improving engagement with the site (schools and centres) to tailor the design of sessions. A key recommendation is to find funding to increase the duration of the program – a four-to-five-week program is only just enough time for young people to develop trust in facilitators and begin to share more openly.

Source: Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service

Box 4: Dardi Munwurro’s ‘Aboriginal men taking responsibility and being part of the solution’ project

Dardi Munwurro, in partnership with the Melbourne Storm Rugby League Club, the Collingwood Football Club and ACCOs across Victoria, created an educational program delivered by Aboriginal men for Aboriginal men. The program consisted of information sessions and conversations about preventing family violence, based on the key principles of Dardi Munwurro’s healing programs: Strong Spirit and Strong Culture, Taking Responsibility and Healthy Relationships. It also formed discussions at Dardi Munwurro’s annual Victorian Aboriginal Men’s Gathering held in Melbourne as a culturally safe space for men across Australia to come together to discuss key issues affecting Aboriginal communities.

Approximately 12,000 people participated over the two years that it was funded, with the need to pivot to online delivery of the forums. It was accessible to all community members including women, children, young people, Elders and families. The program was evaluated in 2020–21 and the key outcomes included strengthened cultural connection and identity, increased awareness and understanding of issues and violence in communities, and increased awareness of local supports and services.

Source: Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention Mapping project and FSV and Dhelk Dja Action Group PresentationExternal Link

Box 5: Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association Limited’s Resilience Camps

Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association Limited’s Resilience Camps are camps designed to strengthen family relationships and culture, encourage healthy communication and build resilience among families. Seven family resilience camps, each three days in duration, were run over 2019 and 2021 across the North-Metro, West-Metro, Ballarat and Shepparton regions.

More than 70 families participated in cultural activities such as yarning circles, arts and crafts, guest speakers, games and fun family outings. One camp was dedicated to families that had children with disability. The demand for this initiative was so high that they had to cease advertising.

An evaluation of the camps was completed in 2020–21. The evaluation showed that the project contributed to strengthened family relationships, increased understanding of resilience, leadership and communicating emotions, strengthened connection to culture, and broke down gender stereotypes. Participants also reported acquiring a wider knowledge of services and support available to them. An unexpected positive outcome was the impact of families meeting young women from the Northern Territory, and the cultural exchange this offered, by sharing different experiences of different Aboriginal nations.

Source: Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention Mapping project and FSV and Dhelk Dja Action Group PresentationExternal Link

Box 6: Mullum Mullum’s Ochre Program

The Ochre ProgramExternal Link , facilitated by the Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place (Eastern Metro), is a program of projects centred on raising community awareness of what respectful relationships are, through prevention-themed workshops and conversations. Beginning in 2019, the program provides separate sacred spaces for men and women’s business where conversations are facilitated by the appropriate cultural workers from both the Mullum staff and guest speakers. The program also enables facilitators to identify any concerning circumstances and support and refer participants using violence who are contemplating behaviour change. The Ochre Program also aims to develop free from family violence ambassadors who will uphold the messaging of respect within families and communities.

Eight to 12 men and 50–65 community members participated during the first two years it was funded. A 2021 evaluation found evidence that the project contributed to a safe space, enhanced referral pathways and partnerships and that participants had increased an understanding of respectful behaviour, relationships and factors contributing to family violence. The project was given extended funding under the Dhelk Dja Family Violence Fund.

Source: Family Violence Mapping Matrix and Mullum Mullum Indigenous Gathering Place websiteExternal Link

Box 7: Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative's Cultural Therapeutic Support Program

Previously known as the Strong Culture, Strong Family program, Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative’s Cultural Therapeutic Support Program was a family-based primary prevention program delivered in the Grampians region from 2018 to 2020. The program consisted of a series of events and camps facilitated for approximately 250 people, with the aim of strengthening the local Aboriginal communities’ connection to their land and traditional way of life. There were whole-of-family events, with separate events for men, women and children (men’s business, women’s business and kids’ business). 'Healthy relationships' was the key focus, along with cultural connection and pride. Elders and community members were consulted during the design phase of this trauma-informed cultural healing approach to address attitudes and behaviours, and this involvement was identified as a key advantage for the program.

Source: Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention Mapping project and FSV and Dhelk Dja Action Group PresentationExternal Link

Box 8: Djirra’s Young Luv workshop

DjirraExternal Link is an ACCO with more than 20 years’ experience accompanying Aboriginal women, and their children, on their individual journeys to safety and wellbeing. Djirra delivers holistic, self-determined and culturally safe specialist family violence services and early intervention and prevention programs. Djirra also amplifies the voice of Aboriginal women through its advocacy and campaigning for system-wide change.

Young LuvExternal Link is a workshop for young Aboriginal women (13–18 years old) that reinforces concepts of healthy and respectful relationships within a framework of Aboriginal culture, experiences and values. The workshops are designed and facilitated by young Aboriginal women for young Aboriginal women. The workshops are place-based and are delivered across Victoria in collaboration with local ACCOs, mainstream organisations and schools. Young Luv began in 2015 and, after a series of short-term grants, secured long-term multi-year funding through the Department of Justice and Community Safety in 2017. This sustained funding has been key to enable the program to adapt and grow in scope.

The objectives of the program are to:

  • provide a culturally safe space for young Aboriginal women to connect to culture and community
  • raise awareness around family violence, gender-based violence and unhealthy relationships
  • provide tools to identify warning signs and forms of family violence and unhealthy relationships
  • create a local support network to learn from and go to for advice and help, if needed
  • challenge misconceptions about Aboriginal women and family violence and to shift attitudes and beliefs

A key success factor of the program has been the design of culturally informed, inclusive and engaging content and resources that validate and celebrate cultural identity and deliver educational information in a positive, age-appropriate way. These resources include presentations, zines*, toolkits and two successful animation films that provide Aboriginal women with culturally specific messaging around healthy relationships and family violence. Recently, Young Luv has also moved into the digital space, designing and launching the Young Luv Instagram Campaign. This social media campaign responds to the need to engage a younger audience through different platforms and mediums that are responsive to the realities, needs and interests of young Aboriginal women (see illustration in Figure 9, later).

Whether in the workshops or through its online presence, a core element of Young Luv is to create a culturally safe space for young Aboriginal women to draw on culture as a protective factor and to be equipped with knowledge and tools and the confidence to challenge unhealthy behaviours and relationships.

There has been overwhelmingly positive feedback from young Aboriginal women attending Young Luv workshops. A recent review found 99 per cent of participants reported knowing more about types of violence and warning signs, 97 per cent reported understanding more about healthy and positive relationships and 99 per cent of participants felt better equipped to challenge unhealthy relationships.

*A zine is a small print-run, self-published booklet made up of newly created or appropriated texts and images.

Source: Djirra

Box 9: Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency’s Young Koorie Women’s Dance Movez Project

The Young Koorie Women’s Dance Movez Project was developed by VACCA in partnership with Indigenous Hip Hop Projects. This project was developed for young women aged 10–24 years in the Southern Metropolitan area, currently in or previously in out-of-home care, who are disengaged or at risk of disengagement from education or employment, in contact with the justice system and at risk of family violence. Indigenous Hip Hop Projects held weekly Aboriginal cultural and contemporary dance and yarning circles integrated with family violence prevention messaging, with the aim of providing the young women with knowledge and skills so they are less likely to enter violent relationships and more likely to seek help.

Around 15 young Aboriginal women participated in the project, which was given pilot funding from the Preventing the Cycle of Violence Aboriginal Fund. An informal evaluation found that the women who took part felt a strengthened cultural connection, increased knowledge of early indicators of family violence and of what makes a healthy, respectful relationship and where to get culturally safe help and supports. It also contributed to self-esteem and resilience building.

Source: Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention Mapping project and FSV and Dhelk Dja Action Group PresentationExternal Link

Government efforts to support Aboriginal-led prevention and early intervention

Prior to the Royal Commission, government support for family violence prevention and early intervention efforts in Aboriginal communities was provided primarily through grants under the Community Initiatives Fund (at the time of the Royal Commission grants consisted of $59,000 per year for each Indigenous Family Violence Regional Action Group) and under the Aboriginal Justice Agreement (for example, Koori Community Safety Grants). Since then, there have been concerted efforts by government to strengthen support for Aboriginal-led prevention and early intervention initiatives in the family violence area, including:

  • Aboriginal-led prevention as one of five priority areas under the Dhelk Dja: Safe Our Way – Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families Agreement 2018–2028External Link and establishment of the Aboriginal-led prevention working group (Dhelk Dja Strategic Priority Two Sub-Working Group) to progress delivery of relevant initiatives in the first Dhelk Dja action plan, including consideration of prevention funding priorities.
  • An increase in the Community Initiatives FundExternal Link (administered by the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing) to $100,000 per region per year, with funding allocations determined by each Dhelk Dja Action Group based on applications from local Aboriginal community groups and organisations and the priorities in their communities. For the 2022–23 funding round, the allocation was increased to $200,000.
  • Creation of the Aboriginal Family Violence Primary Prevention Innovation Fund 2018–2021 (administered initially by the Department of Premier and Cabinet and transferred to the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing), which provides $3.2 million for 14 initiatives led by 13 Aboriginal organisations. Funding was provided to trial, test and evaluate new and innovative primary prevention initiatives for Aboriginal people and their communities under the Free From Violence First Action Plan.
  • Creation of the Preventing the Cycle of Violence Aboriginal Fund 2018–2020External Link (administered by Family Safety Victoria), which provides $2.7 million over two years to 11 Aboriginal-led organisations and community groups. Funding was targeted at family violence prevention and early intervention projects that ‘aimed to build respectful, culturally rich, strong and healthy relationships for Aboriginal children, families and Elders’.
  • Establishment of the Dhelk Dja Family Violence Fund (administered by Family Safety Victoria in the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing), which provided a total of $18.2 million over two years (2021–22 and 2022–23) for eligible Aboriginal organisations and community groups to deliver tailored responses for victim survivors and people who use violence. This was made up of an initial allocation of $14.2 million in March 2021 to 46 projects across four streams: frontline family violence services; holistic healing; preventing the cycle of violence; and workforce capability. A further $4 millionExternal Link was allocated in May 2022 to 34 projects across three further priority areas identified by the Dhelk Dja Koori Caucus: Aboriginal frontline family violence services; working with male victims of family violence; and preventing the cycle of violence – strengthening Aboriginal families. Across the two funding allocations, 16 prevention and early intervention projects were funded (representing 29 per cent of all projects through the fund).
  • Under the Aboriginal Justice AgreementExternal Link (administered by the Department of Justice and Community Safety), longer term funding has been secured for a range of prevention initiatives delivered by DjirraExternal Link and Dardi MunwurroExternal Link , including the Koori Women’s Place. The department has also consolidated its funding agreements with Aboriginal-led organisations so they have a single agreement covering all initiatives they are funded to deliver, with streamlined reporting requirements.

The increased funding and additional funding streams for prevention and early intervention have supported a wide range of projects across different communities, settings and cohorts, and have also enabled multi-year funding for some initiatives (two years under the Dhelk Dja Family Violence Fund and three to four years under the Aboriginal Justice Agreement) more recently. There has also been a range of activity to evaluate initiatives and build evaluation capacity, which is discussed later in this report. A further recent key piece of work is mapping of Aboriginal-led prevention activities that will allow clearer analysis of the coverage and gaps in prevention programming to date.

Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention Mapping Project 2021–2022

Fulfilling a commitment under Dhelk Dja Action Plan Strategic Priority Two, Respect VictoriaExternal Link (in partnership with the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing’s Office for Family Violence and Coordination and Family Safety Victoria) commissioned a comprehensive mapping of Aboriginal-led prevention initiatives delivered from 2016 to March 2021. This work was intended to provide the Dhelk Dja Partnership Forum with a strategic overview of primary and secondary prevention activity and investment, to identify gaps and opportunities for effective prevention initiatives in Aboriginal communities and to contribute to establishing a roadmap for future investment. Deliverables of the project included a mapping report and database of prevention initiatives. We understand that the database is intended to be updated over time to provide Dhelk Dja Koori Caucus with a live resource.

The prevention mapping report notes that the Department of Justice and Community Safety and the Department of Education and Training did not contribute to the project and therefore there are likely other relevant initiatives – such as the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service’s school education program outlined in Box 3 above – that are not included. To ensure a complete picture to support the Dhelk Dja Koori Caucus in its strategic oversight of family violence prevention, relevant initiatives funded by other areas of government should be included in the database. Key findings from the project are captured in Figure 6.

Figure 6 also shows that more than 250 initiatives have been implemented between 2016 and 2021, with estimated funding of $18.7 million,2 the majority of which were funded under the Community Initiatives Fund (199 of the 251 initiatives). At the time of conducting the mapping in March 2022, one-third of the initiatives were still operating while two-thirds had finished.

Figure 6: Key findings from the Aboriginal prevention mapping project

Source: Prepared by the Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor based on findings from the Urbis (2022): Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention Mapping Project Final Report.
Figure 6: Key findings from the Aboriginal prevention mapping project
  • An estimated $18.7 million in funding from 2016 to March 2022 has been received
  • Funding provided to 132 organisations
    • 88% ACCOs
    • 12% mainstream organisations
  • Almost three-quarters (71%) of initiatives received $49,000 or less in funding
  • Four out of five (80%) initiatives funded ran for less than 12 months
  • Of the 251 initiatives, two-thirds have lapsed, while one-third are ongoing
  • Top settings of initiatives:
    • Health, family and community service settings (162 initiatives)
    • Sports, recreation and leisure settings (34 initiatives)
    • The arts settings (14 initiatives)
    • Education and care settings for children and young people (14 initiatives)
  • Top target cohorts by initiative numbers:
    • 66 for Women and/or girls
    • 65 for Children and young people
    • 59 for Community members
  • Key successes: Capability and dedication of staff. Co-design with Aboriginal people. Local networks and partnerships. Transport and food assistance for participants.
  • Key barriers: COVID-19 restrictions. Lack of ongoing funding. Staffing and organisational challenges.
  • Key opportunities: Stronger focus on Elder Abuse, LGBTIQA+, perpetrators and lateral violence. Investment in regional and rural areas. Building capacity of ACCOs and community groups for evaluation.
Download Figure 6: Key findings from the Aboriginal prevention mapping project

One positive development supporting government’s commitment to self-determination is that Aboriginal prevention funding is now directed only to Aboriginal-led organisations. As the mapping report found, previous grants had been available to mainstream organisations. Between 2016 and 2022, 12 per cent of organisations funded for Aboriginal prevention projects were mainstream organisations – mostly in the earlier years.

The prevention mapping project identified that 35 of the 251 initiatives (14 per cent) had conducted evaluation activities and that these evaluations provided evidence of common outcomes (see Figure 7).

Figure 7: Key outcomes from the Aboriginal prevention mapping project

Source: Urbis (2022): Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention Mapping Project (prepared for Respect Victoria).
Figure 7: Key outcomes from the Aboriginal prevention mapping project

Key Outcomes

  • Enhanced connection to culture
  • Increased community awareness and knowledge of available services and supports
  • Participants are more connection to each other and community
  • Increased opportunities for health and participants are more confidence and resilient
  • Increased awareness of family violence and its impacts
  • Participants have a safe space to go and share their stories
  • Increased understanding of healthy and respectful relationships

Our analysis found that most initiatives sought to strengthen well-established protective factors against family violence. For example, evaluation provided evidence that initiatives contributed to these key outcomes.

Download Figure 7: Key outcomes from the Aboriginal prevention mapping project

This work occurred in a challenging context for the family violence prevention sector as a whole in recent years. As Respect Victoria’s 2018–2021 progress report to the Victorian ParliamentExternal Link notes, reports of family violence increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our stakeholder consultations revealed that this surge led to organisations shifting their focus and resources towards more urgent responses to people experiencing or at risk of family violence rather than primary prevention. Pandemic-related restrictions also limited the ability of organisations to deliver face-to-face prevention activities and to engage with communities, although the prevention mapping report identified that many organisations found innovative ways of continuing to engage with communities, including through moving to online or hybrid delivery.

The prevention mapping report also identified a number of challenges and opportunities in progressing prevention work within Aboriginal communities, including:

  • inadequate funding for prevention relative to the size of the problem and a need to address short-term funding and burdensome reporting requirements
  • the need for a stronger focus on some cohorts and forms of violence, in particular elder abuse, violence affecting the LGBTQI+ community, and lateral violence
  • building the capacity of organisations to monitor and evaluate their projects and ensuring that data sovereignty principles are upheld
  • increasing opportunities to celebrate success and achievements in Aboriginal prevention of family violence through strengths-based approaches that facilitate continuous improvement and learning.

Features of good practice

Based on our consultations and analysis provided in a range of other reports,3 several features of best practice in Aboriginal-led prevention and early intervention initiatives being delivered in the community emerged. These include:

  • Multi-layered outreach: Delivery of broader community programs that are pathways to more targeted, intensive programs where participants need more in-depth support. For example, Djirra runs the broadly accessible Young Luv program, which educates young women on healthy relationships (see Box 8, earlier), and women from this program with greater needs can then access more intensive services such as the Dilly Bag program and the Koori Women’s Place. Similarly, Dardi Munwurro runs its Men’s Gathering events (see Figure 8) and Brother to Brother line, which can act as a referral pathway through to their other programs, as needed.

Figure 8: Dardi Munwurro’s statewide men’s gathering event

Flyer advertising Dardi Munwurro’s statewide men’s gathering event

Photo from Dardi Munwurro’s statewide men’s gathering event

Source: Flyer and photograph supplied by Dardi Munwurro

They have times where they [Elders] really lead the camp, the cultural activities, and the conversations with young people … For me, as someone who's not Indigenous, I'm able to step out and go this actually isn't a conversation for me – Aunty, can you step in and have this conversation? And they're really available to be able to be there for the young people and what they need, and facilitate the cultural activities as well.

Another stakeholder noted that involving Elders enormously strengthens their work, with Elders acting as ‘navigators’ for young men, and also helps with modelling respect for Elders within the community.

Other programs focused on using female Elders to guide women’s groups, such as the Deep Healing through Cultural Strengthening – Women's Project implemented by Oonah Health & Community Services Aboriginal Corporation. The project brought together female Aboriginal victim survivors to journey through a process of deep healing with the support of Aboriginal Elders and a professional counsellor experienced in working with Aboriginal communities.

  • On-Country program delivery: Activities such as resilience camps and cultural bush walks provide an opportunity to focus on positive change by taking participants out of their regular environment and on to Country to enhance building a strong connection with culture and community. Examples include Winda-Mara Aboriginal Corporation’s Tracks to Stronger Communities project, which aimed to nurture identity by engaging youth to walk on Country alongside Elders and other community members, and VACCA’s Safe and Strong project, which delivered cultural camps to Aboriginal teenagers living in out-of-home care to support their connection to culture and ability to recognise signs of unhealthy relationships.
  • Attendance support: Providing transport and food assistance to participants and other culturally relevant incentives (for example, tickets to attend a Melbourne Storm game as part of Dardi Munwurro’s statewide men’s gathering – see Figure 8 above) helps to enable attendance at family violence prevention events.
  • Engaging and relevant messaging: Using culturally relevant messaging for family violence prevention initiatives (for example, ‘Men’s Gathering’ in Figure 8 above and ‘drop in if you need a safe yarn’ in Figure 9 below), with a particular focus on ‘cultural strengthening’ rather than ‘preventing family violence’ can send a positive and inviting message to potential participants. Projects also used modes of messaging that resonated with the audience and popular channels to reach audiences – for example, Djirra’s social media campaigns, which appeal to young people. Other projects harnessed Aboriginal community radio listeners in combination with social media, such as 3KnD Kool ‘N’ Deadly’s Standing Strong Together project, which worked with a team of Aboriginal community members to deliver a one-hour weekly radio and online program with the goal of supporting, educating, informing and changing community attitudes towards family violence.

Figure 9: Djirra’s family violence social media campaigns appealing to younger audiences

Screenshots of Djirra’s family violence social media campaigns appealing to younger audiences

Source: Djirra Victoria Instagram accounts @djirravicExternal Link and @djirra.youngluvExternal Link

Work undertaken through the Dhelk Dja and Aboriginal Justice agreements has contributed to a more strategic approach to government investment in community-led prevention and early intervention initiatives since the Royal Commission, and supported a wide array of initiatives across different settings. However, a range of issues and challenges facing organisations leading this work in their communities were raised with us during our consultations. These are consistent with themes identified in the prevention mapping report, and a number of past reports including the Royal Commission’s report.

We find that there are a number of areas for further development to better support and position Aboriginal-led prevention and early intervention work to achieve the aims of the Dhelk Dja Agreement and the family violence reductions committed to in the Victorian Closing the Gap Implementation Plan (2021–23). These areas are outlined in the remainder of this report.


  1. For example: Royal Commission into Family Violence report; Our Watch’s Changing the Picture framework; Respect Victoria’s 3-Year Prevention Progress Report to Parliament; the Indigenous Family Violence Primary Prevention Framework; and Karabena Publishing (2021): Evaluation of the Aboriginal Family Violence Primary Prevention Innovation FundExternal Link , 2018–2021 (commissioned by DFFH).
  2. The first round of Dhelk Dja Family Violence Fund initiatives and funding are included in the figures presented in Urbis (2022): Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention Mapping Project (prepared for Dhelk Dja Strategic Priority Two Sub-Working Group through Family Safety Victoria) but not the most recent round from May 2022.
  3. For example: Urbis (2022): Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention Mapping Project (prepared for Respect Victoria) and Karabena Publishing (2021): Evaluation of the Aboriginal Family Violence Primary Prevention Innovation FundExternal Link , 2018–2021 (commissioned by DFFH).

Reviewed 21 December 2022

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