We lead and contribute to research and the translation of evidence, practice expertise and lived experience into safe and effective policy, system design and law reform.
Here we share key research and reports that we’ve led and contributed to – often in partnership with others – to inform policy change.
Sources of Lived Experience in the Family Violence Sector Issues Paper
Safe and Equal has a role in leading efforts to embed the voices of victim survivors in all parts of the family violence system. Building on the research and findings in the Family Violence Experts by Experience Framework, and with the goal of embedding the lived experience of victim survivors within the peak and the broader specialist family violence service sector, this issues paper seeks to explore and understand the different sources of lived experience and how they can be harnessed and integrated into our work.
The specialist family violence sector is broadly underpinned by an intersectional feminist framework. In the context of embedding lived experience, it is essential to understand the significance and importance of engaging multiple forms of knowledge: the diversity of lived experience. This paper explores three different but equally valuable and reinforcing ways that lived experience can be embedded within the specialist family violence sector.
Lived experience in the workforce refers to individuals who work in the sector as practitioners, leaders, advisors, researchers, administrators, and in many other roles. This lived experience is the backbone of family violence specialisation, with its origins in the personal experiences of women who were instrumental in establishing the first refuges and support services for women and children. However, as the sector has become more professionalised, lived experience in the workforce has become less visible. It is important to acknowledge that while lived experience in the workforce is not essential, it should be recognised and viewed as valuable, meaningful and a strength of the sector.
The lived experience of clients, also known as client voice, is integral to the growth and strengthening of service delivery. Specialist family violence services are wholly accountable to the clients they support. Client knowledge and experience is a valuable asset for services to learn from and helps paint a collective picture of many different experiences and journeys through the system.
The third source of lived experience this paper explores is the lived experience of survivor advocates – those who apply lived experience to formal activities to influence policy development, service planning and practice, and contribute to broader systems reform, social change and community awareness. Despite issues around resourcing and sustainability, engaging survivor advocates in projects of any scope and size can have significant and invaluable impact and can contribute to the identification of systemic gaps and service improvements.
None of these sources can exist as representative of all lived experience – nor are any more valuable than any other. There exist multiple ways for the lived experiences and expertise of victim survivors of family violence to be embedded and drive the work of the sector. This paper encourages an understanding that all sources of lived experience are necessary to ensure responses to family violence are effective, inclusive, and safe.
In considering the progression of this work, we must acknowledge and understand that differing levels of access to power mean that different sources of lived experience are not representative of each other. Utilising a ‘power with’ approach, as well as co-production with clients and survivor advocates, provides a way to distribute power more evenly and provides those with lived experience more opportunities to lead and contribute to decision making.
The Measuring Family Violence Services Demand Project
The Measuring Family Violence Demand Project aims to capture and quantify current unmet demand within specialist family violence services. Given the unprecedented transformation and expansion of the Victorian family violence system since 2016, there has never been a more critical time for us to have a whole-of-system picture to ensure safe and just outcomes for victim survivors. In Victoria, there is no complete, state-wide data set that includes everyone seeking or accessing family violence supports. This means we do not have a birds-eye view of overall demand and what is needed to meet it.
We would like to thank the Victorian Government for the funding to support this work and our partners in Family Safety Victoria for their cooperation.
Phase One of the Estimating Family Violence Service Demand Project focused on developing and piloting a set of indicators to estimate service demand.
- We aimed to capture a snapshot of the diverse range of case management activity that specialist practitioners undertake to meet the needs of victim survivors, activity that is not recorded anywhere in the system and therefore currently invisible.
- To do this, we asked people working in specialist family violence services to record their time spent on various case management activities during two two-week data capture periods.
- Managers in services also provided an overview of client data for each data capture period, and Team Leaders provided qualitative insights through a workshop exploring preliminary findings.
Phase Two of the project will focus on strengthening existing data collection points and exploring options for addressing data gaps into the future
- The data collected from Phase One is helping to paint a picture of unmet demand within specialist family violence services and will support efforts to address these gaps, moving the sector towards reliable, meaningful data collection and analysis.
- To continue the progression of this work, Safe and Equal has begun scoping an approach for the sector to measure client outcomes and map client journeys, to better understand what works to support safe and just outcomes for victim survivors across the system and at different access points.
- We look forward to continuing to collaborate with our members and partners in government to achieve a whole-of-system view that can show us whether we are providing and achieving safe and just outcomes to victim survivors and holding perpetrators to account.
The key findings from phase one are outlined in the Outcomes report, which highlights the following:
- The data captured showed that services consistently provide services above their funded targets, but there are extensive wait times for clients to be allocated case management support, which increases client risk and has a corrosive impact on practitioners and services.
- The data also highlighted the need for cohesive data reporting on agreed key indicators, so the service sector can clearly see how clients enter the system, how they move around and where the blockages are.
- Finally, we were able to see gaps where data was significantly limited: allocations from the Orange Door to specialist family violence services, on children and young people accessing specialist family violence services, the overflow of family violence services clients into homelessness services, and the changes in the risk clients experience while waiting for case management.
Gender-based violence and help-seeking behaviours during the COVID-19 pandemic
We partnered with the Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre on ‘When home becomes the workplace: family violence, practitioner wellbeing and remote service delivery during COVID-19 restrictions’. This report presents findings of a statewide study into the wellbeing impacts of working during the COVID-19 restrictions on Victoria’s specialist family violence and men’s services sector.
We also worked in partnership to develop ‘Best Practice Guidelines: Supporting the Wellbeing of Family Violence Workers During Times of Emergency and Crisis’.
These guidelines were developed as part of a broad program of research to understand women’s experiences of violence and help-seeking under the COVID-19 restrictions, as well as the impact on health and social care workers who provide support during this time.
For a copy of the guidelines and other outputs from this research program, visit the Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre.
Progressing Recommendation 31
DV Vic and CASA Forum jointly managed the Progressing Recommendation 31 Project to inform possible ways forward for Recommendation 31 from the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence. The recommendation focuses on the potential for improving and increasing collaboration between the specialist family violence and specialist sexual assault sectors.
The project found that the specialist family violence and sexual assault sectors are highly complementary and frequently interconnected, and that there is an enthusiasm across the sectors for greater connection and collaboration. Furthermore, the findings highlighted that the distinct specialisation of each sector should continue to be recognised and sustained in practice, policy and funding, along with support for greater collaboration into the future.
Download the Progressing Recommendation 31 report.
The prevalence of acquired brain injury among victims and perpetrators of family violence
Brain Injury Australia has launched Australia’s first research report into family violence and brain injury, funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.
Many DV Vic members participated in the research, including at a member consultation in October 2017 and through individual practitioner interviews.
Among the findings; of the 16,000 Victorians who attended hospital over a decade due to family violence, 2 in every 5 sustained a brain injury, nearly 1 in every 3 victims of family violence were children and, of those, 1 in every 4 sustained a brain injury.
The report – launched by 2015’s Australian of the Year Rosie Batty in front of 250 people at Melbourne Town Hall – was researched by a consortium led by Brain Injury Australia comprising Monash University, Domestic Violence Victoria, No to Violence and the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare.
The research was part of the implementation of Recommendation 171 of the Victorian Royal Commission Into Family Violence; “The Victorian Government fund research into the prevalence of acquired brain injury among family violence victims and perpetrators.”
Brain Injury Australia is actively seeking partners and funders for pursuit of the report’s four recommendations, which include: the development and distribution of information resources on brain injury; the addition of screening questions for brain injury in family violence risk assessments; the piloting of an integrated brain injury and family violence service; and the mapping, or development of, services and supports for all people with a brain injury, including those at increased risk of perpetrating of family violence.
Read the ABC news article about the research.
How multi-agency responses to family/domestic violence can generate positive systemic change
The Royal Commission into Family Violence in Victoria recommended greater collaboration between agencies and service sectors, and the establishment of multi-agency and multi-disciplinary responses and programs.
Multi-agency and multi-disciplinary programs hold information about the experience of individuals traversing a number of intersecting services. They can shine a light on institutional practices and other systemic issues that affect victim survivors beyond the reach of the program.
Written by Catherine Plunkett, as part of a Churchill Fellowship, this report explores how lasting system change can be achieved through the work of multi-agency responses to family violence.
Download the report on multi-agency responses to family violence
Cross Sectoral Alliance Principles of Co-design
The Cross Sectoral Alliance was established in 2016 to play a constructive role in delivering on the recommendations outlined in the Royal Commission into Family Violence report. It provides cross-sector expert advice and engagement as well as solutions for implementation.
The Royal Commission’s recommendations for reform are underpinned by ‘co-design’ principles, with particular reference to the development of the Support and Safety Hubs, the work of the Statewide Family Violence Advisory Committee, primary prevention strategies, and the work of Victoria Police.
In support of this approach the Cross Sectoral Alliance set out principles for effective co-design.
Download the Principles of Co-Design
The Cross Sectoral Alliance to Respond to the Royal Commission into Family Violence included 11 peak bodies from the family violence and sexual assault sector; the family, youth and children’s sector; and women’s health, homelessness and community legal sectors.
Recharge: Women’s Technology Safety
In 2015, the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) funded the ReCharge: Women’s Technology Safety project. This project included the following:
- WESNET developed and presented a series of webinars for practitioners working with women experiencing technology abuse.
- Women’s Legal Service NSW developed a range of legal guides about relevant state and territory laws relating to technology abuse.
- DVRCV conducted the first national survey of family violence practitioners to understand the overlap between family violence and technology-facilitated abuse.
To read about the research and get the report visit the WESNET website.
RMIT report on opportunities for early intervention
RMIT’s Centre for Innovative Justice released ‘Opportunities for Early Intervention: bringing perpetrators of family violence into view’ in March 2015. DV Vic was one of a range of stakeholders who participated in consultations during its development. The report recommends a range of practical measures for tackling family violence within the community and to help bring perpetrators into view.
To read about the research and download the report visit the Centre for Innovative Justice.