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Speech notes – Media Conference – 21 March 2019

Acknowledge the traditional owners, the first Australians, of the land on which we meet today, the Wurrundjerii people of the Kulin nation and pay my respects to Elders, past present and emerging.

I also want to acknowledge the people who’ve worked in the family violence sector (mostly women) over the last 20-30 years. They got us to this point and we stand on strong shoulders. 

I want to begin as I will finish and remind us that this is all about victim survivors and everything we do is about making it better for them.
Three years ago, the Royal Commission into Family Violence handed down its historic report which sets the basis of the State Government’s reform package.

I cannot overstate the complexity and significance of the reform – it is an enormously ambitious task.

My role as the Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor is to hold the Government to account for delivering the reform package that arose out of the Royal Commission. 

But I’m active in that I work alongside Government, its agencies and the sector – in real time – monitoring how the reforms are being implemented and identifying ways to do things more effectively. 

My office is tasked with identifying and sharing better practice; and when I see increased risks, to highlight them to decision makers. 

Last year, my first annual report found that there were foundational issues around planning and governance and there were things that needed to be addressed.

Today my second annual report was tabled in Parliament and it deals with the period from November 2017 to November 2018.

Once again, I was guided by two fundamental questions:

  • What is best for current and future victim survivors?  
  • And what will break the cycle, and avoid people becoming perpetrators or victims?

In the report, I focused on three key areas of reform which are: Support and Safety Hubs – also known as The Orange Door, primary prevention and most importantly, the voices of victim survivors.

This morning I want to concentrate on the hubs – a flagship element of the Government’s reform package.

They are designed as safe places for victim survivors of family violence to go and access the right help easily and quickly.

Five hubs were opened during 2018 and while I congratulate the government on establishing them – I believe significant risks remain around their effectiveness.

They are the biggest budget, biggest change, biggest profile and, unfortunately, they are also the biggest risk of the reforms. 

The hubs are an incredible concept and should be a game changer for current and future victim survivors. That’s why it is vital they are done properly.

However, the implementation of the first five hubs and all the work it entailed –  was rushed. 

Planning had to be done, policies to be developed, IT systems to be  built and establish physical facilities. 

The initial planned time frame for the first five Hubs was insufficient for those tasks. 

This does not mean the Government should stop the implementation of the next phase of hubs – it simply means that the government should learn and take its time to get it right. The hubs are too important to rush.

I also want to emphasise that I am not criticising the people staffing the hubs or those at Family Safety Victoria (FSV) who are working tirelessly to implement the reform package.

But as monitor it is my role to hold the Government to account. 

There were two other areas of focus on my report, primary prevention and capturing the voices of victims survivors. 

We are seeing strong foundations and the challenge and opportunity is now to build on those foundations. 

As a community we have come a long way … but we still have got a long way to go. 

Ending family violence will take a generation or more. 

As the reform process continues we must always remember the people at the heart of this reform – the victim survivors and their families … and our goal of becoming a community where family violence is no longer acceptable and  is a thing of the past.

I will now take questions.