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High-level internal governance within departments and agencies

Individual departments and agencies have a range of governance structures in place to oversee implementation of their family violence reform initiatives, and to feed into whole-of-reform governance bodies. As all departments and agencies are responsible for implementing the MARAM framework, we have focussed on comparative governance arrangements for this aspect of the reform.

Family Safety Victoria is the lead agency responsible for creating the workforce development strategy and foundation knowledge guidance around MARAM and providing implementation support for workforces. Individual departments and agencies are responsible for implementing the framework within their portfolios, including for external organisations funded to deliver services on their behalf. Implementation of MARAM is in various stages across government, with some workforces (for example, Child Protection, mental health and many justice workforces) prescribed in September 2018 and others (for example, education and hospitals) more recently prescribed in April 2021.

The 2020 Process Evaluation of the MARAM Reforms11 report identified ’governance to drive accountability and continuous improvement’ as one of three key activities in the MARAM program logic and outlined the following necessary system components:

  • governance structure for implementation and continuous improvement
  • reporting and oversight for accountability
  • processes to collect, gather and analyse data.

The MARAM process evaluation also made several recommendations aimed at strengthening coordination and oversight.12 In response, Family Safety Victoria has made a number of changes to how it supports and monitors MARAM implementation progress and holds organisations to account (noting that Family Safety Victoria is not a regulator), including:

  • clarifying roles and responsibilities between Family Safety Victoria and implementing departments
  • supplementing the internal-to-government MARAM and Workforce Director’s Group that provides cross‑government oversight of the implementation of the MARAM Framework (along with the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme, Industry Plan and the Strengthening the Foundations: First Rolling Action Plan 2019–2022), with monthly bilateral meetings with departments to discuss any implications, challenges or questions that have arisen in the process of implementing the framework
  • extending funding through allocation of the 2020–21 state budget for centralised teams within government departments that are responsible for prescribed workforces to drive implementation activity
  • developing an annual forward-implementation plan template for departments to outline planned workforce numbers and training, expenditure and key deliverables. A quarterly reporting template was also developed to enable departments to provide a snapshot (by way of traffic light system and brief commentary) on implementation actions, budget expenditure, training, information sharing demand, and any risks and issues identified.

Implementation plans were produced for the first time in 2021 and the first quarterly reports were considered by the MARAM and Workforce Director’s Group at the November 2021 meeting. The reports are designed to be used to identify gaps or themes in the reforms that need to be addressed. Family Safety Victoria has indicated that it is proving extremely useful in supporting its visibility of implementation progress and issues in departments and agencies.

Table 1 represents department and agency MARAM governance structures and processes aligned to the necessary governance system components identified in the 2020 MARAM process evaluation.

Most departments have dedicated governance bodies (and associated working groups) in place to oversee implementation of their MARAM obligations, noting that the Department of Health is still in the process of establishing its new governance following machinery-of-government changes. There is some variation in established reporting against implementation activity and data provided to those governance bodies. The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing has reporting against detailed implementation activities and timeframes, training data for different workforces, and tables a risk and issues log for discussion at steering committee meetings. The Magistrates’ Court of Victoria provides monthly project reporting to the recently established Courts Family Violence Reform Project Board, following changes to its internal governance structure. The Department of Education and Training also provides high-level reporting on MARAM implementation as part of a consolidated child safety and family violence report, while MARAM risks and issues are formally escalated to the project control board as required. Similarly, the Department of Justice and Community Safety provides high-level MARAM reporting through a consolidated family violence implementation tracker.

Outside of structured reporting, there was also evidence of discussion about implementation progress and issues at many governance groups. Some departments provided us with their 2021–22 implementation plans and advised that the MARAM quarterly report template established by Family Safety Victoria is being used as a key reporting mechanism for governance bodies. While the implementation plan and quarterly report templates are an excellent resource to support cross‑government management of risks and issues, for effective oversight within departments and agencies, governance bodies require oversight of the more detailed planning that (presumably) feeds into these documents. For example, the annual implementation plan template does not include timeframes for activities to track progress against, and many activities are described at a highlevel rather than the detailed breakdown needed for planning and monitoring implementation delivery [relates to action 13].

There is a need for departments and agencies to ensure they are using their governance bodies to actively monitor and manage implementation progress, risks and outcomes based on detailed implementation planning. It appears there could be improvement in the reporting that some internal governance bodies receive on MARAM implementation to enable them to perform this function.

Table 1: Department and agency MARAM governance against necessary governance system components

Agency Governance structure for implementation and continuous improvement Reporting and oversight for accountability Processes to collect, gather and analyse data
Department of Families, Fairness and Housing Dedicated governance structure: MARAM and Information Sharing Alignment Steering

Structured reporting provided to steering committee.

MARAM alignment dashboard with progress against detailed activities and timelines as well as workforce training data

Risk and issues log as part of steering committee meeting papers

Workforce training numbers collected

Self-audit tool not used to date

Department of Justice
and Community Safety
Dedicated governance structure: Family Violence Coordination Group and MARAM and Information Sharing Working Group

Some structured reporting provided to coordination group

High-level MARAM information as part of broader family violence implementation tracker

Risk and issues communicated to
coordination group through Family Safety Victoria’s quarterly report and other ad hoc papers

Workforce training numbers collected

Self-audit tool not used to date

Department of Education and Training Dedicated governance structure: Child Safety and Family Violence Project Control Board

MARAM alignment plan endorsed by Project Control Board April 2021

Structured reporting provided to
Project Control Board.

High-level MARAM progress as part of child safety and family violence priorities update report

MARAM implementation risks included in department-wide risk register. Framework for escalation of risks and issues to Project Control Board

Workforce training numbers collected

Self-audit tool not used to date

Department of Health

Still to establish dedicated governance structure following machinery-of-government changes

Governance of Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence (which incorporates MARAM alignment for hospitals) has continued

Reporting through Family Safety Victoria whole-of-government process

Workforce training and satisfaction numbers collected

Self-audit tool distributed for use by all health prescribed organisations and workforces

Magistrates’ Court of

Dedicated governance structure: Courts Family Violence Reform Program Board

Courts’ governance substantially revised September 2021

Structured reporting provided to program board.

Monthly project status reporting against project milestones, key project activities/deliverables, budget, risks and issues*

Workforce training numbers collected

Self-audit tool not used to date

Victoria Police No dedicated governance structure Reporting through Family Safety Victoria whole-of-government process

Workforce training and satisfaction numbers collected

Self-audit tool not used to date

* Also includes MARAM implementation within the Children’s Court of Victoria

Sources: individual departments and agencies

To support the diverse range of prescribed organisations to sustain successful alignment to MARAM, the MARAM and Workforce Directors Group recently agreed to the development, and key features, of a MARAM Alignment Maturity Model. This work appears to be the continuation of work that Family Safety Victoria commenced at the time of the launch of MARAM in September 2018. The maturity model will address a key recommendation from the MARAM process evaluation13 and includes products such as a maturity matrix and a self-audit tool (building on the existing audit tool, discussed below) to enable services to map where they are on that matrix. In the interim, an Organisational Embedding Guide, released in June 2020,14
aimed to ‘directly address uncertainty around the concept of alignment’15 and provides some support for agencies to assess their level of implementation maturity. The guidance includes a self-audit tool that asks organisations to assess their progress against a series of milestones, organised according to the four MARAM pillars, to help identify where to focus implementation attention. The self-audit tool provides an important source of information to assist departments and agencies in understanding their progress and prioritising future implementation activity.

Other than a trial of the current MARAM self-audit tool within the housing area of the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing, we are not aware of any other government areas having used the tool to assess alignment progress for their workforces and inform planning of future implementation activity [relates to action 13]. However, we understand that the self-audit tool is being used by a number of community sector organisations to guide their alignment activity and has been distributed to prescribed health organisations. Continuous improvement is a critical component of the MARAM framework, and priority should be given to embedding it in implementation planning and governance oversight by departments and agencies.


11 Cube Group (2020): Family Safety Victoria: Process Evaluation of the MARAM Reforms, Final Report (unpublished).

12 For example: Recommendation 1.5: FSV consider options for monitoring compliance with prescribed organisations’ obligations (and how those obligations have been determined) at a sector-by-sector level and at a local level (for example, through Regional Integration Committees); Recommendation 2.2: The Steering Committee should impose greater scrutiny on status reporting and a clearer process for managing delays; Recommendation 5.7: FSV should focus on providing clarity around the expected outcomes for MARAM, ensuring outcomes are being met and providing oversight and change management advice for implementation to agencies.

13 Cube Group (2020): Family Safety Victoria: Process Evaluation of MARAM Reforms, Final Report (unpublished). Recommendation 4.1: FSV prioritise the development and finalisation of a MARAM alignment maturity model to provide a common language for organisational improvement and clear expectations regarding the maturity of alignment expected from prescribed organisations. It should include a clear description of priority areas for effective organisational alignment with MARAM, foundational activities/elements within each priority and definitions for various stages of maturity across each of the priorities.

14 Family Safety Victoria: Available at (accessed 5 December 2021).

15 Cube Group (2020): Family Safety Victoria: Process Evaluation of MARAM Reforms, Final Report (unpublished).