The role of the Monitor
Ending Family Violence – Victoria’s Plan for Change (the 10 Year Plan) sets out an ambitious reform program. The size and complexity of this reform, requiring new and innovative ways of working, make this a high-risk reform. The role of the Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor (FVRIM; the Monitor) was established to mitigate against some of these risks and to provide the Victorian people and Parliament with an independent assessment of the progress of the government’s implementation of the reform.
The Monitor is established under the Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor Act 2016 (the Act) as an independent officer of Parliament. The Monitor’s functions are set out in section 14 of the Act.
The Monitor is required to report to Parliament on progress of the reforms as at 1 November each year, and this report is the third such report. The two previous reports are available on the Monitor’s website at fvrim.vic.gov.au.
During the 2018–19 monitoring period which this report covers, the Monitor role has been held by three individuals:
- Tim Cartwright APM concluded on 1 August 2019
- Simon Kent, Interim Monitor, 2 August 2019 – 1 October 2019
- Jan Shuard PSM commenced on 2 October 2019.
Values of the Monitor
The Monitor is driven by a set of core values, which are embedded in the Monitor’s approach, including stakeholder engagement and the messages communicated about the reform.
Specifically, the values of the Monitor are to:
- exercise integrity by reporting independently on the implementation of the reform
- be supportive and constructive in approach and advice to the government
- demonstrate commitment to the reform through perseverance and continuing to push the government to do better
- demonstrate courage in delivering frank and fearless advice
- be outcomes-focused, considering what is best for current and future victim survivors and what might break the cycle of family violence
- reflect on how best to use the role to make a difference.
The work of the Monitor was also guided by two questions:
- What is best for current and future victim survivors?
- What will break the cycle, and avoid people becoming perpetrators, victims or victim survivors?
Selection of priority areas
Monitoring is an effective form of risk mitigation when it enables those responsible for implementation to address issues as they arise. To this end, monitoring occurs alongside implementation, rather than after completion and the Monitor aims to act as an early warning system for risks and issues that could mean the reform is less effective for victim survivors now and in the future.
The size and complexity of the reform means that it has not been possible to monitor everything.
The Monitor held workshops with representatives from the family violence and family services sectors and with VSAC to identify areas of the reform they considered should be monitored in this period. The Monitor also met with government department and agency representatives through the FVR-IDC and asked them to advise the areas they thought the Monitor should focus on.
The Monitor chose to focus on five key areas in the 2018–19 monitoring period:
- Specialist Family Violence Courts
- Multi-agency Risk Assessment and Management (MARAM)
- Support and Safety Hubs, also known as The Orange Door
- perpetrator accountability (including in the context of The Orange Door)
- voices of victim survivors.
The Monitor also chose to monitor for emerging risks using a risk register approach and to build in review points during the year to consider how the monitoring was progressing and whether external/internal factors may require a change in focus.
In addition to the issues highlighted by stakeholders, the selected monitoring focus areas were based on careful consideration of:
- possible level of impact on the experiences of current and future victim survivors
- level of risk involved if this is not implemented well
- delivery timeframe within current monitoring period
- longevity of impact
- impact on whole-of-reform outcomes
- level of funding involved
- resources of the Monitor’s office.
Monitoring in this period was based predominantly on information gathered from:
- consultations with government agency staff on the progress of implementation, particularly around any changes to timeframe or budget, the reason for delays, and the level of collaboration
- consultations with community groups and victim support groups on whether the implementation plans are meeting their needs, and whether there are any early indicators of effectiveness
- attendance at key governance and advisory committee meetings
- review of documentation from implementation agencies, meeting papers and records of decisions by governance bodies.
- The Monitor also gathered information through observations and interactions with a wide range of experts and stakeholders and through observing relevant governance and advisory groups (see Appendix 2).
Regular separate face-to-face meetings were held throughout the monitoring period with key agencies responsible for implementation of the reforms: DPC, FSV, DHHS, DJCS, Courts Services Victoria, Victoria Police, Respect Victoria, Office for Women and DET.
Part of the approach for this year was to meet with the specialist family violence sector’s organisations in group settings, as well as individually. This approach facilitated a broader discussion among these organisations in relation to the progress of the reforms and the Monitor’s findings.
Throughout the monitoring period, the Monitor specifically sought to identify progress in the following critical areas:
- working with diverse communities
- working with Aboriginal communities
- ensuring the voices of victim survivors are heard
- workforce and cultural change
- planning and systemic implementation considerations
- best practice examples.