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Jan Shuard PSM

Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor

Whenever we ask stakeholders (including victim survivors and specialist family violence services) what they would like to see change going forward, almost everyone says there needs to be a greater focus on primary prevention.

Primary prevention is vitally important in the family violence system. It is the way we can stop more people from ever having to experience the harm caused by family violence and the only way we can reduce the pressure on family violence response services. Having concerted and visible primary prevention efforts in place is also important to give a sense of hope that the future burden of family violence will be lessened.

This was a very difficult topic to navigate. There is a lot of work happening, but the system architecture – including the design of the necessary components of the system, and decisions about how different parts interact with one another – is still developing. Despite this, we observed enormous commitment to this work and a strong will to work collaboratively, and I applaud the dedicated work of those actively pursuing the primary prevention of family violence and violence against women. They are doing incredible work with relatively low investment, and they often face job insecurity given the short-term funding models in place.

As one stakeholder powerfully told us, Victoria’s strong history of progress in primary prevention has been built on the goodwill of women in underpaid and insecure jobs, which are the very factors that contribute to gender inequality and violence against women.

We thank all our stakeholders who gave their time and shared their expertise so generously – particularly when there were other prevention reviews happening at the same time. Special thanks to Respect Victoria, who had many discussions with us, including to explain the basics of primary prevention.

This report highlights the need to build on the work that's already been done to strengthen the primary prevention system. We suggest numerous ways that this strengthening could occur, but most importantly, we suggest the need to create a framework that explains how the system operates, to clarify roles and responsibilities of all parts of the system, and to articulate a theory of change for Victoria’s strategic approach to primary prevention. These actions will provide clarity about who is doing what at all levels of the system, why, and how the overall outcomes will be achieved.

This report also draws attention to the common themes being raised across our topics:

  • the counterproductive impact of short-term funding, hence the need for longer term investment – this is especially true for prevention work, which requires sustained effort over a long period to produce generational change
  • continued attention to intersectionality and ensuring all policies, strategies and services address the needs of diverse groups in the community
  • the importance of strengthening data and monitoring so the system has the capability of seeing whether things are working as expected.

We hope this report is useful in reflecting some of the key elements the primary prevention system needs to ensure it is best placed to achieve the generational change that it seeks to achieve.

Signature of Jan Shuard

Jan Shuard PSM
Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor