Primary prevention communities of practice

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Communities of practice are emerging as a successful and sought-after mechanism to improve the wellbeing of workers, organisations and the primary prevention sector.

Safe and Equal’s primary prevention communities of practice (CoP) bring together those working in primary prevention to explore challenges and opportunities, strengthen policy and practice and build the capabilities and skills of those working in prevention. 

Communities of practice are established with the aim of creating a safe space for prevention practitioners to exchange knowledge, resources and ideas, and build rich relationships. Through peer learning and expert facilitation, we enable opportunities for personal growth and practical skill development. You can learn more about our approach to CoPs through our resource, Learning Together.

In 2024-2025, we are offering five communities of practice to Victorian-based practitioners. Each CoP consists of a maximum of 25 practitioners over eight sessions, with one intake in August and another in December. All of our CoPs are free and will mostly be held online, between August 2024 to May 2025 with a break over summer holidays.

Summer intake and other Communities of Practice

Applications for our first intake (August to November 2024) are closed, however we are accepting expressions of interest for our second intake (February to May 2025). To join the waitlist, please complete the Open Expression of Interest form. 

The availability of our CoPs is made possible with funding from the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing and Department of Education through the Statewide prevention workforce development program.  

Communities of Practice

Mid to senior community of practice

This community of practice provides a unique opportunity for practitioners who are established in their prevention careers and are looking to build their networks and hone skills in practice and leadership. In a professionally facilitated environment, this CoP provides opportunities for knowledge transfer and identifying and working through shared challenges and opportunities.  Participation in this community will build skills and leadership capabilities necessary for doing this work effectively. 

Workforce Development CoP

Having a skilled, connected and diverse workforce is critical to the success of primary prevention initiatives in Victoria. Workforce development practitioners and programs are delivering capability building activities, such as training, communities of practice and workshops, develop and support the prevention workforce. This community of practice will bring together those that work across program design and development, policy and coalition and network building initiatives for prevention practitioners. This might include: 

  • Individuals delivering training with a prevention focus 
  • Individuals in tertiary education/TAFE settings, imbedding prevention into existing and new learning pathways. 
  • Individuals convening and building networks, collaborations and alliances of prevention workers within or across organisations to deliver prevention activity.  

The CoP will provide an opportunity to explore the challenges, opportunities and complexities of meeting workforce and practitioners’ needs, through delivering responsive, quality and coordinated workforce development activities.   

Respectful Relationships and school-based prevention programs CoP

School-based programs offer young people the opportunity to explore and learn about consent, relationships, and gender equality. Embedding cultures of respect and equality across the entire school, from classrooms to staffrooms, is therefore essential to ensure positive outcomes for young people and their communities. Programs such Respect Relationships Education (RRE) and other school-based prevention efforts are key primary prevention initiatives in Victoria.  It is crucial this workforce is given opportunities to connect and space to share wisdom, celebrate and discover new and exciting ways to transform their work. 

Join Safe and Equal’s RRE and school-based prevention program CoP to exchange knowledge, resources and ideas, and extend your connections with those working in primary prevention. This community of practice will bring together school-based prevention practitioners across Victoria, with a key focus (but not limited to) Respectful Relationships Education.  

Emerging Prevention Practitioners CoP

Joining the primary prevention workforce is an exciting opportunity, and means developing new practice, learning about different theories and frameworks and building new relationships with colleagues working in multiple settings in primary prevention. It’s essential that emerging practitioners feel supported and connected in their work and be given a space to test new ideas and ways of thinking. 

This CoP provides a unique opportunity for emerging primary prevention practitioners who are learning and growing in their roles, to routinely come together. In a professionally facilitated environment, the CoP provides opportunities to share knowledge and work through shared challenges and opportunities that arise in early career development.  Participation in this community will build confidence and support key knowledge and skills for doing this work effectively. 

Resistance in Primary Prevention and Gender Equality CoP

If you work in gender equality or primary prevention, then you’ve most likely experienced backlash and resistance. Our aim is to provide a space for practitioners working in primary prevention of family and gender-based violence to feel safe, supported, connected and skilled to identify and manage resistance.  

This community of practice provides a unique opportunity for practitioners working across all settings to come together and explore these issues. In a professionally facilitated environment, the Resistance in Primary Prevention CoP will work to provide opportunities for knowledge-sharing and identifying and working through shared challenges and opportunities when managing resistance.   

Participation in this CoP will build on knowledge and skills developed through Safe and Equal’s ongoing focus in this area including resources and training (though attendance at this training is not required for this CoP). 

Our ethos to online CoP delivery

Since 2021, Safe and Equal have convened CoPs purely online. This was in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and work from home mandates. We continue to receive positive feedback from participants about these online forums and the safe spaces we are able to create. We also continue to hear, particularly for those with caring arrangements and working in rural or remote areas, that online continues to be beneficial.

However, we are increasingly receiving feedback that face-to-face would also be valuable. A key part of Safe and Equal’s ethos to CoPs is the formation and holding of space in line with a Group Agreement and being driven by needs and interest of each group. This agreement is determined with each group and underscores how each CoP is convened so that each group is as safe and enabling as it can be.

Considerations around format, including face-to-face options will be discussed as a part of group agreements with each CoP and considered on a case-by-case basis.

What practitioners have to say, and what we are learning through communities of practice

Over the years Communities of Practice for primary prevention practitioners have become a valuable offering through Safe and Equal. Safe and Equal continue to hear from prevention practitioners about the importance of enabling connections with other prevention practitioners and expanding networks to enable greater visibility of the range of work occurring in prevention. We know connection is key for exposure, but also well-being. Working in social change is not easy, and isolation is common in a sector working in organisations where prevention may not be the sole focus. CoPs help connect those people. 

Through ongoing monitoring and evaluation of CoPs we understand that:  

  • Participants find the format and themes covered in their CoPs are engaging and relevant to their work 
  • CoPs provide participants with new ideas, resources and knowledge that support their practice 
  • CoPs create an environment of support, lead to reduced isolation and create opportunities for connection in a sector where people are often working in isolated roles 
  • CoPs support practitioners to problem solve and identify opportunities or resolved challenges as they emerge through their work 

Some reflections from past participants about their experience include:

“[The CoP was a] Safe space to reflect about our practice, including the challenges of the work. Overtly given permission to be inarticulate and vulnerable as we grappled with difficulties in the work. Sufficient structure but also flexibility to follow themes of interest as they arose.”

– CoP participant (June 2023)

“The ability to connect with other leaders and create a safe space together to share concerns, articulate new ideas without judgement and support each other through the many barriers we face during prevention work. I've never had a CoP feel so safe for sharing and being authentic across sector.”

– CoP participant (Sept 2023)

“I was looking for any tips and tricks to do it better, and to take into my workplace to say, ‘we should we doing this’, and show best practice, have something better to speak to at the end in a more strategic way.”

– CoP participant (June 2022)

You can learn more about the benefits from CoPs in 2022-23 through our summary report here. A similar report with learning and outcomes from 2023-24 will be released in the coming months. 


With the Safe and Equal monthly bulletin