The Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor has concluded its work. The website has been transferred to the Department of Premier and Cabinet.
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Jan Shuard PSM

Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor

This is our final report and it looks at one of the most critical aspects of Victoria’s family violence reforms. This topic is about interventions available for people who use violence and abusive behaviours – the perpetrators of family violence. Some victim survivors we met with had left abusive relationships but were deeply concerned that without strong intervention from the system, their abuser could and would go on to perpetrate family violence in new relationships. We know that there are other victim survivors who do not want to leave the relationship but need the violence to stop. Important work is happening to address the underlying issues that drive family violence, but change will take time. In the meantime, to reduce risk and protect victim survivors, people using family violence must be held accountable and pushed to access interventions that enable behaviour change.

I am often asked if behaviour change is ever possible. Having spent a career working with offenders, my answer is yes. While taking part in in treatment programs requires commitment, taking responsibility and hard work, help is available. Giving up on perpetrators is not an option, even though the work can be challenging. While the evidence base for behaviour change is still in progress, just making perpetrators attend programs is a powerful way to hold them to account with the prospect of developing insights that can promote change.

There has been much progress in the service response for perpetrators and this report highlights the range of programs and services offered. Unfortunately, prompt and timely access to services is not always available. This means there are missed opportunities for interventions and an undermining of efforts. It is despairing for victim survivors, law enforcement and service providers, who must continue to endure harm and repeatedly respond to the damage caused. It also allows perpetrators to avoid responsibility for their actions. We met with many impressive service providers, and we commonly heard that too much of their efforts are directed to addressing the consequences of long wait times between referrals and program commencements. These professionals can and will make an impact but must be supported with direct pathways into their services.

The quality of this report would not have been possible without the expertise and thoughtful guidance of the specialists at No to Violence, who are leading the change to end male-perpetrated family violence in Australia. These experts in their field generously reviewed our draft report to ensure the use of proper language and that our report did not contain information that could support a perpetrator’s abuse of systems, and most importantly contributed their vast knowledge on the subject.

We are also grateful to the many organisations and individuals who took part in our consultations to share their knowledge and experience to inform this report. Also, to the victim survivors who bravely shared their expertise on the subject despite the emotions this may have invoked.

Given this is the final report in this series I would like to acknowledge the work of the amazing team I have been blessed with along the journey. They have displayed outstanding skills, worked tirelessly to deliver on an ambitious program and conducted consultations with stakeholders and victim survivors with openness and sensitivity. I know their work is appreciated and they are rewarded as they see the changes that are made. I would also like to sincerely thank the team at Family Safety Victoria who have been collaborative and generous in their advice and guidance on our reports. Their support has been greatly appreciated.

Jan Shuard PSM
Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor