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Context

The Royal Commission into Family Violence (the Royal Commission) handed down its report and recommendations at the end of March 2016.

The Victorian Government committed to implementing all 227 of the recommendations and work commenced immediately. The 2016–17 State Budget included $572 million for ‘65 of the Royal Commission’s most urgent recommendations’.1 The reform is unprecedented in its complexity and scope, compared with past efforts to address family violence. Implementation activity has occurred within most government departments and several agencies, and also across agencies.

In November 2016 the Victorian Government released Ending Family Violence: Victoria’s Plan for Change (the government’s 10 Year Plan).2 In May 2017 the government released the Family Violence Rolling Action Plan 2017–2020 (RAP). The current RAP 2017–2020 is due to expire next year. The second RAP is planned to be released by the government in 2020.

The 2017–18 State Budget contained a record investment of $1.9 billion over four years, with money allocated across all major family violence initiatives. The 2018–19 Budget included an additional $166 million over four years for initiatives that included flexible support packages, housing assistance for victim survivors, Aboriginal family violence responses and primary prevention activities. The 2019–20 Budget included a further $185.5 million over four years for perpetrator responses and initiatives to support Aboriginal Victorians, including implementation of the Dhelk Dja agreement as well as family violence refuge and crisis responses. With the $81.3 million allocated in the 2015–16 State Budget, prior to the Royal Commission being finalised, this brings the total investment in family violence reform over five State Budgets to around $2.9 billion.

Roles and responsibilities

From March 2016 to June 2017 the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) was responsible for both coordination of the reform’s implementation and many of the ‘iconic initiatives’,3 such as the Support and Safety Hubs (The Orange Door), the Central Information Point (CIP), the Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management Framework (MARAM), industry planning and workforce development. DPC was also responsible for funding reform, governance, engagement and co-design with victim survivors, the non-government sector and diverse communities, the preparation of the government’s 10 Year Plan and RAP, development of the Family Violence Outcomes Framework, and the establishment of the new coordination agency Family Safety Victoria (FSV).

In August 2016 Tim Cartwright APM commenced as the inaugural Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor, working on a contractual basis until the passage and commencement of the Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor Act 2016 on 1 January 2017, when he was formally appointed to the role.

On 1 July 2017 FSV commenced operations as an administrative office of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). It now has 255 full-time equivalent staff. Responsibility for the implementation of The Orange Door, the CIP, MARAM, industry planning and workforce development was immediately transferred from DPC to FSV. Responsibility for perpetrator interventions was transferred from DPC to FSV in March 2019 and reframed as perpetrator accountability. On 1 August 2018, Respect Victoria was established as a branch of DHHS and became a Statutory Authority on 4 October 2018, taking over primary responsibility for a range of family violence research and communication projects previously situated within the Office for Women.

The role of DPC’s Family Violence Branch is now to support and advise the Premier and the Minister for Prevention of Family Violence on the family violence reforms, including whole-of-reform implementation, operationalising the Family Violence Outcomes Framework, expenditure and outcomes monitoring, risk mitigation approaches and strategic direction setting. In addition, DPC advises the Committee of Cabinet with responsibility for family violence on the status and implementation of the family violence reforms and provides oversight and secretariat functions to the two key governance groups for the reform, the Victorian Secretaries’ Board Sub-Committee on Family Violence Reform (VSB-SC) and the Family Violence Reform Interdepartmental Committee (FVR-IDC).

In early November 2018 the government went into caretaker mode ahead of the State election held on 24 November 2018. During this period (and the lead up), some key governance bodies ceased meeting, including the Committee of Cabinet with responsibility for family violence and the VSB-SC. The Family Violence Steering Committee met during the caretaker period on 8 November 2018 without the Minister present.

With a new term of government, a new Minister for Prevention of Family Violence was appointed in December 2018. The new Minister has taken on responsibility for many of the key family violence reform initiatives that were previously the responsibility of the Special Minister of State.

Some machinery-of-government and administration changes also occurred with the new term of government. The Office for Women, which has responsibility for some of the primary prevention of family violence work, moved from DHHS back to DPC. The main impact for the family violence reforms was the transfer of responsibility to the new Minister for Prevention of Family Violence. This targeted focus is a demonstration of the Government’s ongoing commitment to maintain the momentum for change. FSV remained the responsible agency for the bulk of this work.

Acquittal of the Royal Commission recommendations

In May 2019 the Premier wrote to 11 of his Ministers advising them which of the Royal Commission recommendations listed on the public acquittal as currently ‘in progress’ they are responsible for. At that time there were 107 recommendations ‘in progress’ and assigned to specific Ministers. The primary change was to increase the number of recommendations for which the new Minister for Prevention of Family Violence has direct responsibility. While the remaining recommendations do not represent all the reform activity underway such as the ongoing work to embed some of the iconic features of the reforms,4 many of the remaining recommendations are among the most significant and complex. So, the allocation of recommendations provides a means of appreciating how the remaining reform activity is shared among the ministry and a priority for the government.

Figure 1a: Numbers of remaining Royal Commission Recommendations, by minister responsible

Premier 5, Attorney-General 16, Prevention of Family Violence 34, Police and Emergency Services 4, Housing 10, Ministers with three or fewer 15. Source FVRIM, based on information from DPC

As at 1 November 2019, the government has implemented a further 23 of the Royal Commission’s recommendations bringing the total implemented to 143 recommendations, with 84 remaining in progress.5

In addition to refreshing the ministerial allocations, the agencies responsible for delivering the work to implement each recommendation were also re-confirmed after the election. For each recommendation, there is a lead or coordinating entity and for most there is also a contributing entity (or multiple contributing entities).5

Figure 1b: Number of remaining Royal Commission recommendations, by coordinating entity

FSV 33, DJCS 10, CSV 10, DHHS 11, DPC 17, Victoria Police 2, Other 1

Reform implementation activity during the monitoring period

The following pages present major activities and milestones achieved during the monitoring period that are beyond the focus on the specific priority areas as they look across the whole reform. The information is collated from advice provided to the Monitor’s office by government agencies in October 2019 and relates to activity undertaken during the current monitoring period of 1 November 2018 to 1 November 2019.

The government identified four outcomes in Ending Family Violence: Victoria's 10 Year Plan for Change (2016). Information about the implementation activity was sought by the Monitor's office, and provided by the government, in line with these outcomes.

This table does not include every reported activity and it is focused on those which appear most significant, either for their impact on victim survivors, children or perpetrators, for the amount of resources they represent and/or their likely impact across the entire reform and service system.

Outcome: Family violence and gender inequality are not tolerated

Capacity building and training

  • Capacity Building and Participation Grants Program Family Violence stream provided over $2 million funding to over 30 projects for multicultural and faith communities.
  • Two primary prevention policy forums held in May and October 2019.
  • 27 scholarships awarded to experienced prevention and gender equity practitioners to upskill in accredited training and assessment.
  • 1,561 early childhood professionals received Respectful Relationships professional learning, bringing the total number to 2,072.

Strategies and reports

  • Empowering Bystanders to Act on Sexist and Sexually Harassing Behaviours report of bystander intervention trials.
  • Aboriginal Maternal and Child Health Initiative service model evaluation finalised.

Operational - services and programs

  • 449 new schools have signed-on to implement the Respectful Relationships whole-school approach, a total of 1,483, which represents 78% of Victorian Government schools opted in.
  • $2.81 million Safer and Stronger Communities Pilot (2018-2020) commenced to build capacity of five multicultural organisations in gender equality and family violence primary prevention.
  • African Communities Family Violence Leadership Program funded 15 African ethno-specific and community organisations.
  • 13 Aboriginal-led services funded through the Free from Violence Innovation Aboriginal fund to deliver family violence prevention projects.
  • Over 2,000 parents participated in Baby Makes 3 primary prevention program across five hospitals.
  • Respect Women: ‘Call it out’ campaign in cafes and extended to public transport.
  • Project commenced to establish whole-of-institution approach to prevention of violence against women in four Technical and Further Education institutes.

Outcome: Victim survivors, vulnerable children and families are safe and supported to recover and thrive

Capacity building and training

  • The MARAM Practice Guides released in July 2019.
  • Online family violence training for child protection practitioners created – mandatory completion within first six months of commencing role.
  • Family violence-specific education programs for judicial officers.
  • 25 video and animated micro-learning tools about family violence risk and management developed for the tier 2 workforce (core support or intervention agencies).

Strategies and reports

The Orange Door 2018 evaluation report completed.

Operational – services and programs

  • Specialist Family Violence Court in Shepparton commenced operating.
  • The Orange Door at Inner Gippsland opened.
  • Fourteen new sites acquired for family violence refuges.
  • 6,500 flexible and therapeutic support packages funded for victim survivors.
  • Statewide expansion of the Personal Safety Initiative.
  • Umalek Balit Koori Family Program commenced at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court and Mildura Law Court.
  • New homelessness facility Ozanam House constructed with 134 short-, medium- and long-term bed facilities.
  • Family Violence Contact Centre commenced operations to support seven courts with phone enquiries and eight sites with email enquiries.
  • New Application for family violence intervention order form.
  • Victoria Police trialled digitally recorded evidence in chief statements from family violence victims using body worn cameras – evaluation report of the trial is pending.

Legislation and governance

  • The second tranche of reforms in the Justice Legislation Amendment (Family Violence Protection and Other Matters) Act 2018 (the Act) commenced on 29 March 2019.
  • 37 magistrates gazetted to sit in Shepparton and Ballarat specialist family violence courts.
  • Review of persistent contravention offence completed (s125A of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008), with advice provided to the Attorney-GeneralOutcome: Perpetrators are held to account, engaged and connected.
  • Victoria Police commenced using Video and Audio Recorded Evidence (VARE) for family violence matters.

Outcome: Perpetrators are held to account, engaged and connected

Capacity building and training

  • Swinburne Graduate Certificate in Client Assessment and Case Management (Men’s FV) – 40 places funded.
  • Workforce capacity building of mental health and alcohol and other drugs sectors.
  • Rollout of MARAM Practice Guides which include management of perpetrator risk, practice and information sharing to keep perpetrators in view.

Strategies and reports

  • Interim report of the evaluation of perpetrator intervention trials and case management services.
  • Final report from the Expert Advisory Committee on Perpetrator Interventions released.

Operational – services and programs

  • Victoria Police issued guidance to police on service of family violence intervention orders, their responsibility within the Family Violence Response Model for supervision of service, and requirements relating to service in training.
  • New Victoria Police form created ‘Affidavit in support of an application for an intervention order’ to provide Magistrates with a comprehensive understanding of the parties’ history and vulnerabilities to assist with deciding the appropriate conditions for family violence intervention orders.
  • Ten perpetrator intervention programs trialled targeting diverse cohorts, with 250 people receiving a tailored intervention under the trials.
  • Approx. 900 perpetrators received case management.
  • Approx. 5,400 men participated in a Men’s Behaviour Change Program.

Outcome: Preventing and responding to family violence is systemic
and enduring

Capacity building and training

  • Implementation of the Information Sharing Culture Change Strategy within the Department of Justice and Community Services (DJCS).
  • First vocational training course in identifying and responding to family violence accredited.
  • FSV provided a variety of training programs about identifying and managing family violence risks to a range of government, management and front-line staff, totalling over 10,000 people.
  • 88 Victorian public health services participated in the Strengthening Hospitals’ Response to Family Violence initiative.
  • 'Family Violence and Disability Learning Program' delivered to 115 DHHS frontline disability services staff.
  • inTouch provided training, communities of practice and partnership development for the needs of culturally diverse communities.
  • Victoria Police reviewed policy and practice, improved training and guidance to identify and respond to family violence primary aggressors.
  • Centre of Learning for Family Violence opened at the Victoria Police Academy.
  • Victoria Police developed five specific practice guides to support changes to frontline and investigative responses to family violence.
  • Victoria Police established independent auditing of police compliance with policy and practice requirements which is commencing with an audit around Family Violence Safety Notice listing timeframes.
  • Working with family violence content incorporated into core curriculum for all social work undergraduate degrees.

Strategies and reports

  • Monitoring and evaluation framework for MARAM finalised.
  • Family Violence Data Collection Framework developed by the Crime Statistics Agency.
  • Everybody Matters: Inclusion and Equity Statement released.
  • Respect Victoria’s inaugural Strategic Plan 2019–2022.

Operational - services and programs

  • 208 new family violence specialist police deployed.
  • 21 new detective sergeants, 140 detective senior constables and 46 senior constable Family Violence Court Liaison Officers deployed.
  • Information Sharing Protocol between DHHS, the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria and the Children’s Court of Victoria came into effect.
  • Seven Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations commenced use of the L17 Family Violence portal.
  • Victoria Police launched a new risk assessment form to identify the likelihood of future family violence occurring and its severity including training in using the new form.
  • Victoria Police introduced a new case prioritisation model and tools to escalate high risk and complex family violence incidents to specialist teams.

Legislation and governance

  • VSB-SC on Family Violence Reform reconvened.
  • New Family Violence Reform Monitoring and Reporting Framework.
  • New entity portfolio reports rolled out.
  • Refresh of Strategic Reform Risk Register.

Footnotes

1. Victorian Government Media Release (27 April 2016): Urgent Family Violence Investment Will Help Keep Women Safe. Available at premier.vic.gov.au/ (accessed 2 December 2019).

2. Victorian Government (2016): Ending Family Violence: Victoria’s Plan for Change. Available at vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2019-07/Ending-Family-Violence-10-Year-Plan.pdf (accessed 2 December 2019).

3. This terminology is used in Victorian Government (2017): Family Violence Rolling Action Plan 2017–2020.

4. For example, it does not include any of the activity being undertaken to implement MARAM.

5. Victorian Government (2019): Family Violence Reform: The 227 Recommendations. Available at: vic.gov.au/familyviolence/recommendations.html (accessed 21 November 2019).

Reviewed 05 May 2021

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