Legislative and policy frameworks

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There are a range of essential legislative and policy frameworks that inform specialist family violence service provision.

It’s important that people and services working to respond to family violence understand these foundational frameworks and strategies. These are either legislated or embedded as key system enablers to facilitate consistent, safe and quality responses to family violence in the community.

This page does not provide an exhaustive list of policy, legislation, operational or practice guidelines, as these are subject to frequent change. Professionals working in Safe and Equal member services can contact us for support and advice as the frameworks underpinning the family violence system continue to expand and evolve.

Resources

Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management (MARAM) Framework
The MARAM Framework is legislated under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic). It aims to increase the safety and wellbeing of Victorians by ensuring that prescribed organisations can effectively identify, assess and manage family violence risk and keep perpetrators in view and held accountable for their actions.

The MARAM Framework allocates multiple responsibilities to specialist family violence services as part of the broader family violence response system. As such, the Code of Practice frequently references MARAM Framework materials. However, to fully support implementation, specialist family violence service providers are required to implement the MARAM Framework and its accompanying risk assessment tools, practice guides (foundational and responsibility-based), and organisational alignment resources.

Responding to Family Violence Capability Framework
The Responding to Family Violence Capability Framework describes the knowledge and skills required to respond to all forms of family violence. It covers four workforce tiers, spanning specialist family violence services, core support services and professionals, mainstream/social support services and universal services. 

Specialist family violence practitioners are in Tier 1 of the framework as they carry considerable responsibility and leadership in responding to family violence and managing serious levels of risk. 

Specialist family violence service providers benefit from using this resource to develop consistent approaches for recruiting, managing and supervising the specialist practitioner workforce.

Family Violence and Child Information Sharing Schemes
The Code of Practice is informed by the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (FVISS) and the Child Information Sharing Scheme (CISS). 

The FVISS authorises prescribed Information Sharing Entities (ISEs) to share information for a family violence assessment or family violence protection purpose. The CISS authorises prescribed ISEs to share information for the purpose of promoting a child or group of children’s wellbeing and safety. In the context of family violence, both FVISS and CISS must be used in conjunction with the MARAM Framework.

Organisations that are funded to provide specialist family violence services are prescribed with information sharing responsibilities under both schemes and must refer to the guidelines to appropriately share information and meet their legal obligations.

Family Violence Protection Act 2008
The purpose of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic) is to:

  • maximise safety for children and adults who have experienced family violence
  • prevent and reduce family violence to the greatest extent possible
  • promote the accountability of perpetrators of family violence for their actions. 

The Act aims to achieve its purpose by providing an effective and accessible system of family violence intervention orders and family violence safety notices.

Specialist family violence services are not legal or law enforcement services. However, they should be familiar with the Act and its functions to support victim survivor safety and risk management planning.

Children, Youth and Families Act 2005
The purpose of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic) is: 

  • to provide for community services to support children and families
  • to provide for the protection of children
  • to make provision in relation to children who have been charged with, or who have been found guilty of, offences
  • to continue the Children’s Court of Victoria as a specialist court dealing with matters relating to children.

Specialist family violence services should be familiar with the Act and guiding resources, including the Best Interests Framework for Vulnerable Children and Youth and the Best Interests Case Practice Model. These resources provide guidance on the developmental needs of infants, children and young people; children’s rights to be protected from harm; and thresholds and decision-making for reporting concerns about child protection or wellbeing.

Child Safe Standards and Reportable Conduct Scheme
The Child Safe Standards are a compulsory and legislated framework that supports organisations to promote the safety of children by requiring them to implement policies to prevent, respond to and report allegations of child abuse.

The Reportable Conduct Scheme seeks to improve how organisations respond to and investigate allegations of child abuse and child-related misconduct. It achieves this by requiring heads of organisations to report to the Commission for Children and Young People any allegation that a worker or volunteer has committed child abuse or child-related misconduct.

Specialist family violence services are responsible for implementing their responsibilities to these resources and should seek guidance from the Commission for Children and Young People if required.

Dhelk Dja: Safe Our Way – Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families
Dhelk Dja: Safe Our Way – Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families (the Aboriginal 10 year family violence agreement 2018–2028) is the key Aboriginal-led Victorian agreement that commits the signatories – Aboriginal communities, Aboriginal services and government – to work together and be accountable for ensuring that Aboriginal people, families and communities are stronger, safer, thriving and living free from family violence.

The Code of Practice is informed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ right to cultural safety and self-determination as described by the agreement. Specialist family violence services should be familiar with this document to guide partnership work and service coordination with Aboriginal organisations and communities.

Guideline: Family Violence Services and Accommodation – Complying with the Equal Opportunity Act 2010
The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission provides this guideline to specialist family violence services outlining their legal obligations under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) to promote inclusive and non-discriminatory service delivery. 

The Code of Practice is informed by this guideline; however, specialist family violence services should use it to develop their own equal opportunity policy and continuous improvement processes to deliver inclusive and equitable services.

Everybody Matters: Inclusion and Equity Statement
The Everybody Matters: Inclusion and Equity Statement sets out the Victorian Government’s long-term vision for the creation of a family violence system that is more inclusive, responsive and accessible to all Victorians. 

It acknowledges and recognises the diversity inherent within each of us, and the need for family violence and universal services to build a better understanding of the barriers that can prohibit inclusion and access through the understanding and application of an intersectionality framework.

The statement’s vision for an inclusive, safe, responsive and accountable system for all Victorians will mean that anyone seeking help for family violence will be able to choose what service they access and know they will receive the help they need.

Department of Health and Human Services Standards
The Department of Health and Human Services Standards are a single set of quality standards for service providers operating in the human services sector. The standards promote people’s right to empowerment, transparent and equitable access and engagement with integrated services, wellbeing and safety, and participation in decision-making and involvement in their chosen community.

All agencies that are funded or registered by the Department of Health and Human Services to provide services to clients are required to meet the standards. Compliance is generally assessed through service providers achieving accredited certification via an independent review. The standards and the review process seek to ensure that people experience the same quality of service no matter what service they are accessing. It also helps ensure service providers have systems in place that promote acceptable levels of management, administration and service delivery.

The Community Services Quality Governance Framework
The Community Services Quality Governance Framework outlines the principles, domains, roles and responsibilities needed to deliver on the shared goal of safe, effective, connected and person-centred services for everybody, every time. It includes measures of success and indicators of poor-quality governance, and is designed for use across all services delivered, funded and regulated by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The framework has been developed so that services can scale, adapt and implement components to meet the needs and scope of their organisation. Each service should use it to review, design and continuously improve its own structures, systems and processes. It specifies that everyone – whether a volunteer, manager, CEO or member of a governing body – has a role to play in achieving the best possible experience and outcome for the people who use community services.

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