Preventing and responding to family violence

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The specialist family violence and primary prevention sectors provide expertise to address family violence in our community.

We work to support safe and just responses to victim survivors, hold perpetrators of family violence to account, and take action to prevent family violence from occurring in the first place. Find out about these different areas of work, and how they support each other.

Ending family violence is long-term work that must occur at all levels and all sites across the community. This continuum of interconnected and concurrent activities fit into three broad categories:

  • prevention – or primary prevention
  • early intervention – or secondary prevention
  • response – or tertiary prevention.

Initiatives focused on each of these areas are important and reinforce each other.

Working across the continuum from prevention to response

Prevention - or primary prevention

Working across communities, organisations, and society in settings where people live, learn, work, socialise and play to stop violence from happening in the first place. It involves challenging or addressing the things that drive violence against women (the gendered drivers). 

What can this work look like?

  • Implementing whole school initiatives that promote gender equality and respectful relationships.
  • Developing awareness-raising campaigns that make it clear sexism and disrespecting women is never acceptable.
  • Supporting a local sports club to develop policies and procedures that ensure women and children have equal access to resources and appropriate facilities to support their participation in sport.
  • Implementing workplace initiatives that take a whole of organisation approach to addressing the drivers of family and gendered violence. This may include addressing unequal workplace policies, processes, leadership, and workplace culture.

Early intervention - or secondary prevention

Initiatives designed to stop early signs of abuse from escalating, prevent violence from recurring, and reduce longer-term impacts and harm. This can involve working with groups or individuals who may be at risk of perpetrating or experiencing violence, focusing efforts in where there are signs that violence is more likely to occur, and working more broadly across communities and society to improve approaches to recognising and responding to signs of abuse.

What can this work look like?

  • Developing resources to support people to understand family violence and recognise if they are experiencing it.
  • Providing information and training about family violence, legal rights and support services to people who are at higher risk of experiencing violence or professionals who work with them. 
  • Working with boys who have shown early signs of or begun using violence to stop them from continuing to use violence as adults (for example, sexually abusive behaviours treatment services).
  • Delivering education sessions at a sports club about sexual assault and the legal consequences after women have reported experiencing sexual harassment.

Response - or tertiary prevention

Responding to victim survivors when they need support to stay safe from someone using family violence against them. This may be when they are still experiencing abuse, planning to leave, or have already left. This work can take a variety of forms including crisis response, case management, specialist counselling and recovery support.

Specialist family violence services provide frontline support for those experiencing family violence. They place the needs of victim survivors at the centre of their practice.

What can this work look like?

  • Talking to victim survivors about their experience of violence and assessing their level of risk.
  • Working with the victim survivor if they choose to stay in their relationship, to help them to remain safe.
  • Providing case management support including arranging crisis accommodation, supporting victim survivors to secure housing, advocating for victim survivors navigating the legal system, and providing referrals and support.
  • Police protection and response (for example, responding to incidents of family violence).


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Search our directory of specialist family violence services in Victoria.


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