The role of the Monitor
Ending Family Violence: Victoria’s Plan for Change 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 program. The role of the Family Violence Reform Implementation 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 as an independent officer of the Victorian Parliament. The Monitor’s functions are set out in section 14 of the Act.
Monitoring is an effective form of risk mitigation when it enables those responsible for implementation to address issues as they arise. To this end, 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 Monitor does not have the power to direct the government or implementing agencies and does not have decision-making authority.
The Monitor must report to parliament on progress of the reform as at 1 November each year, and this report is the fourth and final such report under the Act. The three previous reports are available on the Monitor’s website at fvrim.vic.gov.au.
Values of the Monitor
The Monitor is driven by a set of core values, which are embedded in our approach, including stakeholder engagement and the messages communicated about the reform. Specifically, the Monitor’s values are to:
- exercise integrity by reporting independently on the implementation of the reform
- be supportive and constructive in our 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 is also guided by two questions:
- What is best for current and future victim survivors?
- What will break the cycle and avoid people becoming perpetrators or victim survivors?
Approach to monitoring for the final report
As the fourth and final report under the Act, a different approach was taken to previous reports. Monitoring focused on examining reform progress by looking back over the nearly five years since the Royal Commission through the lens of ‘what has changed’ and looking forward to the next phase of the reform to consider ‘what remains to be done’.
As in previous reports, monitoring in this period was based on information gathered through:
- 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 specific areas of reform progress, and whether there are any indicators of effectiveness
- attendance at key governance and advisory committee meetings
- reviews of documentation from implementation agencies, meeting papers and records of decisions by governance bodies
Monitoring this year was additionally informed by a call for submissions from individual practitioners and organisations that work with people who have experienced or perpetrated family violence, and through applying an ‘implementation science’ approach to key areas of the reform, both of which are outlined further below.
Due to the restrictions in place during 2020 to manage the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Monitor was largely unable to visit services in person. Most consultations during the monitoring period were conducted online.
Throughout the monitoring period, the Monitor shared early findings with the Family Violence Reform Interdepartmental Committee to enable implementation agencies to address issues identified in a timely way.
Selection of priority areas
Priority areas in this monitoring period were explored through a series of rapid deep dives. These areas represented systemic issues that could represent enablers or barriers to the progress of family violence reform. Areas were selected based on a thematic analysis of remaining recommendations and consultation with government and sector stakeholders and included:
- children as primary victims of family violence
- safe housing
- perpetrator accountability
Service integration and financial sustainability and system demand were also initially selected as systemic issues for examination. However, due to the reduced capacity of the Monitor’s office and government agencies during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, deep dives were not undertaken into these topics.
Monitoring also considered progress in relation to diverse communities (reflected throughout the report) and the inclusion of the voices of victim survivors in the reform. Following stakeholder feedback, progress in relation to adolescents who use violence in the home was also examined in the current monitoring.
Finally, the government’s response to family violence in the unprecedented coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was examined.
Implementation review methodology
In response to widespread implementation challenges, implementation science has emerged as a new discipline over the past two decades. Implementation science is the study of how research evidence and effective policies, practices and programs can best be promoted and implemented in health and human services. The core aim of implementation science is to influence and accelerate the uptake and embedding of effective approaches in real-world settings.212
In partnership with the Centre for Evidence and Implementation,213 the Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor applied implementation science models to review a selection of family violence reform initiatives: Respectful Relationships education in schools; Specialist Family Violence Courts; and The Orange Door — Central Highlands.
Implementation science is a multidisciplinary field that offers insights for decisionmakers and service providers involved in change and improvement processes. The field acknowledges the complexity of change processes by highlighting the many different domains of influence (including individuals, organisational culture and characteristics of the system and environment) and by describing non-linear implementation processes. It also offers methods, tools and approaches that can help to navigate this complexity and to facilitate high-quality implementation. International experience emphasises the importance of taking an implementation science–informed approach to system reform to increase the likelihood of achieving and sustaining the intended changes.214
Two key implementation science frameworks — an integrated staged implementation framework215 and the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research framework216 — were adopted to guide the reviews. These frameworks were selected because they are directly applicable to the review goals and are widely used in implementation practice.
Implementation scientists often recognise four stages of implementation, as illustrated in Figure A.1.
The staged implementation framework was used to guide high-level descriptions of the program implementation processes. This included generating insights into implementation progress to date, implementation pace, and key activities undertaken (or skipped) in each stage. Such insights are beneficial for revealing the complexity of the implementation process and for highlighting the time and resourcing required for implementation efforts in each stage.
The reviews also considered barriers and enablers to effective implementation according to the five domains of the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research. The Consolidated Framework identifies five key domains of influence over implementation:
- Individual characteristics (‘people’): Characteristics of the people involved in implementing the initiative.
- Program/policy characteristics (‘program’): Characteristics of the initiative itself.
- Inner setting (‘organisation’): Characteristics of the organisation or system within which the initiative is being implemented.
- Outer setting (‘system’): Characteristics of the surrounding context or environment.
- Implementation process (‘process’): Characteristics of the implementation process itself.
Figure A.2 illustrates the five domains, with examples of specific influencing factors (that act as barriers or enablers) within each domain.
These frameworks are most commonly (though not exclusively) applied to implementation at the local programmatic level. For these reviews, they were used to guide analysis at the reform level. This approach necessitated focusing on the key concepts offered by each of the frameworks, rather than the granular detail. Nonetheless, applying implementation science methods to the reviews facilitated a structured, consistent and transparent process across programs that delivered actionable insights.
The reviews drew on documents provided by implementation agencies, available evaluations, stakeholder feedback from the Monitor’s call for submissions, and feedback from workshops involving agencies and, for The Orange Door — Central Highlands, service provider staff from Berry Street.
Call for submissions
The Monitor called for submissions from the family violence sector and other stakeholders through Engage Victoria. The campaign ran from 1 June 2020 to 26 July 2020 and sought the views of organisations, individual practitioners and advocates on:
- how the family violence service system, and users’ experience of it, has changed since the Royal Commission
- looking forward — what is still required in the family violence reform
- the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
Submissions informed analysis of progress and areas requiring further attention in implementing Victoria’s family violence reform.
In total, 125 submissions were received (see Appendix 3), consisting of:
- 36 submissions from individuals
- 89 submissions from organisations
Permission to publish was provided for 91 of the 125 submissions. These can be accessed from the Monitor’s website at fvrim.vic.gov.au in PDF format.
212 Eccles & Mittman (2006): Welcome to implementation science. Implementation Science 1(1).
213 For more information, visit ceiglobal.org.
214 Beidas, Adams, Kratz, Jackson, Berkowit, Zinny, et al (2016): Lessons learned while building a trauma-informed public behavioral health system in the City of Philadelphia. Evaluation and Program Planning 59; Horner, Sugai & Fixsen (2017): Implementing effective educational practices at scales of social Importance. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review 20.
215 Informed by the work of Metz, Naoom, Halle & Bartley (2015): An Integrated Stage-Based Framework for Implementation of Early Childhood Programs and Systems. Washington, DC: Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, US Department of Health and Human Services.
216 Damschroder, Aron, Keith, Kirsh, Alexander & Lowery (2009): Fostering implementation of health services research findings into practice: a consolidated framework for advancing implementation science. Implementation Science 4(50).