“Pre-COVID, many community service organisations struggled to secure enough new workers to fill vacancies. Workforce shortages were particularly acute in regional areas. These workforce pressures have been exacerbated by COVID-19, with exponential growth in demand for social assistance…The prolonged nature of the pandemic has left staff stressed and exhausted”. – Victorian Council of Social Services
Family violence workers are leaving their jobs for lots of different reasons, such as the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, burnout, insecure work (short contracts) and low pay. This is having a big impact on victim survivors getting help because there are not as many workers to support people.
The family violence workforce plays a very important role in the recovery of victim survivors and must be supported to do so. Workers and organisations told us that government can support staff wellbeing by paying workers more in the community sector and making sure they have stable jobs.
Victim survivors told us how rewarding it is to support and/or advocate with other victim survivors by engaging in lived experience work. But it is not always easy to know how to find these opportunities and how to make this type of work a career. There is an opportunity to have more lived experience workers in the family violence sector to provide peer support to many victim survivors recovering from family violence.
But what can be done?
We have suggested the following actions for the Victorian Government to tackle these problems (see full list for all 16 suggested actions(opens in a new window)):
More support for the workers that help victim survivors
Make sure that workers in family violence and sexual assault services have better pay and more secure work.
- Help services understand how to employ people, such as victim survivors, who might not have a university degree, but have the expertise.
- Look at how the mental health system has been able to give people with lived victim survivor experience the chance to work in the system to help other victim survivors.