Practitioner profile: Nitika from Safe Steps

Practitioner profile: Nitika from Safe Steps

Thursday, 24 June 2021

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We recently spoke with Nitika, an Intake and Assessment Worker at Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre, about her role.

This is my first role after my social work degree.

I commenced my employment with Safe Steps as an Intake and Assessment worker in March 2019 following the completion of my Masters of Social Work degree. In 2020, whilst working part-time at Safe Steps, I started another part-time role as a Case Manager with InTouch, which is a specialist family violence service that works with women from migrant and refugee backgrounds. However, over time it became difficult to manage two highly demanding jobs at the same time and I decided to return to Safe Steps in a full-time capacity at the start of 2021. I have recently also started a causal role with VICSEG New Futures training as a Family Violence Trainer.

I didn’t have family violence in mind when I was doing my degree.

I completed my final social work placement at Centrelink and that’s where my interest in family violence services started growing. What drives me to work every day is the desire and passion to help and to be there when someone needs that immediate support. I consider myself a small part of a big puzzle that clients have to navigate through while they’re trying to get out of their abusive and violent relationships. I believe that I help my clients put together some of the pieces of that puzzle at the very start of their journey out of their abusive relationships and that’s what drives me to work – being there in the initial stages of someone’s journey.

A typical day for me as a crisis response worker.

My typical day at Safe Steps mainly involves answering crisis phone calls, actioning referrals and responding to emails from clients and other service providers. While I’m answering phone calls or responding to emails, I provide a crisis response to clients including immediate psychosocial and emotional support and psycho-education. As an intake worker, I predominantly undertake family violence risk assessments, create safety plans, organise crisis accommodation, refer clients to their local family violence services for ongoing support and case management programs and liaise with other services providers. This can include advocating to the police to help someone collect their belongings from their home, with hospitals to assist with discharge planning or with housing services to secure accommodation access for clients. As a part of my role, I also provide secondary consultation to external stakeholders including Child Protection, schools, disability service providers, employers and other community workers, providing them with advice on how they can best support their clients. Or it could be a call from friends and family who wants to know what they can do to support someone they know who is going through an abusive relationship.

There are challenges in my role, particularly burnout.

The most challenging aspect of my role is that it is highly demanding and can lead to burnout. The constant exposure to clients’ trauma can become overwhelming at times. However, improved self-awareness, maintaining a good work-life balance, pursuing my hobbies, regular debriefing and supervision, and accessing EAP support have proven to be quite beneficial in managing my stress and burnout.

Apart from burnout, I find it quite challenging that access to support and services is limited for clients with temporary visas, particularly housing, welfare payments and employment and education opportunities. It means that some women on temporary visas may not leave their abusive relationships due to a lack of support options available to them and continue to experience family violence which is heartbreaking. There is definitely a need for more advocacy and support in this area so that women on temporary visa experiencing family violence can be better protected and supported.

There are times when I have been shocked by the details of the actual family violence.

You never know what to expect. What I didn’t expect when I graduated was how bad the details of the violence were going to be. I am still sometimes in disbelief that someone would treat someone else the way they have. However, with time and experience, I’m less shocked with details than I used to be when I started working in the sector.

As an individual, I have grown a lot.

Working in the family violence sector, I’ve grown as a person and professional. I think I have more of an understanding of how the world operates – what’s okay, and what’s not okay. I have used the knowledge gained working in the sector to support friends and family with their relationship issues.

There are multiple factors within this complex system and sometimes I feel there are not enough options for everyone. I particularly find it challenging when I feel I’m unable to meet client’s expectations and that’s hard to sit with.

I have realised that there are limitations to what I can do for someone and often seek comfort in the concept of ‘Radical Acceptance’- it is what it is. I’m trying to focus on what I’m able to do and the difference I’m able to make to someone’s circumstances within the capacity of my role.

Page last updated Thursday, June 24 2021


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New integrated service delivery model resource pack for family violence organisations and referral partners

New integrated service delivery model resource pack for family violence organisations and referral partners

Monday 21 June 2021

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Developed by Social Ventures Australia and organisations in the family violence sector, a new set of resources and information has been developed that highlight the benefits of integrated service delivery, provides practical advice and learnings for organisations seeking to work in this way, and offers tools and templates to help with implementation.

Integrated service delivery is a coordinated approach that puts clients at the centre by bringing together all the services needed to support their recovery journey – be it legal advice, financial counselling, housing, or employment.

Following a multi-year project led by Social Ventures Australia in collaboration with the sector, this resource pack has been developed documenting an integrated service delivery model and sharing learnings, perspectives and practical advice from organisations working in this way. The resource packs include comprehensive documentation of the integrated service model and a summary report.

Funded by CommBank Next Chapter, the project is the result of extensive engagement with social sector organisations working to improve outcomes for victim survivors, including McAuley Community Services for Women, WEstjustice, EDVOS, Muslim Women Australia’s Linking Hearts program, Domestic Violence Victoria, Homelessness NSW and InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence. The work was also informed by the perspectives of victim survivor advocates through Women’s Health East.

The resources identify the benefits to victim survivors, including an increased likelihood of engagement, long-term recovery and independence, alongside how the approach helps service providers and the broader system (including funders) deliver more streamlined and effective support. Critically, it also supplies a set of resources that explore how to deliver integrated service delivery, including the stages of establishment, setting up a partnership and key success factors.

“[When engaging with individual services] too often you are repeating your story over and over again; it takes so much energy to re-tell [your] story and really wears you out,” says victim survivor Megan*.

“I cannot stress enough how important it is just to have that one place to go and to know you are safe, know everything is going to be dealt with”

The collaborative project also provides resources for service providers to advocate to government and funding partners who can support this way of working, along with a suite of practical tools including example surveys, position descriptions, templates, checklists, case studies and more.

“We want to create a system where all staff are competent in supporting clients, where victim survivors receive consistent, quality, informed support from whichever service they go to, when they need it and from whoever they deal with – it doesn’t depend on one individual or one organisation.”

– Team leader at a specialist family violence service

Page last updated Monday, June 21 2021


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Mandatory qualifications requirements for specialist family violence practitioners

Mandatory qualifications requirements for specialist family violence practitioners

Wednesday 2 June 2021

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We recently spoke to DV Vic and DVRCV’s Sector Development Advisor, Renae Leverenz about the upcoming rollout of Recommendation 209 from the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence.

Renae shared insights into how the mandatory minimum qualification requirements – rolling out from 1 July 2021 – will impact new and current practitioners and the specialist family violence sector.

What has driven the change in mandatory minimum qualifications for specialist family violence practitioners?

RL: This new policy has been introduced as part of the Victorian Government’s response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence. Recommendation 209 specifically called for the introduction of mandatory minimum qualifications for specialist family violence response practitioners.

The policy has been designed to recognise and cherish the expertise already within the sector and support existing workers to stay through an ongoing exemption.

What are the key considerations for practitioners entering the workforce?

RL: There are a few points I would emphasise to new practitioners:

The first is that the mandatory minimum qualification is just that – a minimum. So, there may be other skills, knowledge, or experience that an employer is looking for alongside the qualifications. There are also transition arrangements in place to work towards the minimum qualification, so read any advertisement carefully before making any assumptions (positive or negative).

The second is that although having a Bachelor of Social Work makes it easy to tick a checkbox that an applicant meets the mandatory minimum qualifications, it is by no means the only pathway to entry. There is a wide range of qualifications and training that can be spliced together to make up the mandatory minimum qualification. The policy doesn’t limit you to the one pathway.

The third point is that for those who have a related qualification or those who have five years of relevant professional experience, there is a five-year transition period for them to work towards the minimum qualification. That option will remain available until mid-2026.

Finally, people with significant cultural knowledge or lived experience have an important role to play in the sector. For those who bring cultural expertise or lived experience and have faced barriers to education, you can be supported to enter the sector through an ongoing pathway.

How will this change impact existing practitioners?

RL: Those employed as specialist family violence practitioners in Victoria prior to 1 July 2021 are exempt from being required to meet the mandatory minimum qualifications. This exemption will remain in place as long as they are not absent from working as a specialist family violence practitioner for more than four years.

This means that existing practitioners can still take long service leave, carer’s leave or other breaks without losing that exemption, as long as they return to that work within the four-year timeframe. And obviously the exemption stays with them if they change employers or move around Victoria – it is the absence of practising in such a role that is key here.

How will the mandatory minimum qualifications benefit Victoria’s specialist family violence sector?

RL: I think the change formally recognises that undertaking family violence work requires a high level of expertise and knowledge. This policy will ultimately strengthen the sector by demonstrating the professional nature of specialist family violence work and increasing its visibility.

Without wanting to take anything away from the variety of qualifications that people could use as a basis for meeting the equivalent qualifications, it will provide a very clear career pathway for those studying social work to consider.

It will mean that family violence electives will become more attractive to students in a diverse range of courses as they keep their career options open, and ultimately contribute to more graduates with knowledge and understanding of family violence.

How will this change impact specialist family violence services?

RL: From a recruitment perspective, complying with the new policy might mean that the selection process takes a little longer than it currently does, at least while the sector gets used to the change.

From a service perspective, the change will ensure that practitioners have a consistent and strong foundation of knowledge and cultural understanding in responding to family violence.

What supports are available during the upcoming transition?

RL: If they have any concerns about the introduction of Rec 209 or are confused about the details in the policy, they should get in touch with me at

There are details about the policy on the Vic Government website, and a toolkit for recruiters is also on its way. There will be several information sessions run over the coming months for practitioners and for recruiters so that we can help ease you through the transition.

Find out more about the Mandatory minimum qualifications for specialist family violence practitioners policy and frequently asked questions for practitioners and employers.

Page last updated Wednesday, June 2 2021


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