Specialist family violence services

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Specialist family violence services provide crisis responses and case management to victim survivors of family violence. Specialist family violence practitioners walk alongside victim survivors as they navigate a complex human service system while managing dynamic risk posed by perpetrators of family violence.

Victim survivors often find themselves in a tangled web of services and systems when they seek help for family violence. In response to this, specialist family violence services play a central role in leading coordinated responses with other agencies to promote victim survivor safety and perpetrator accountability.

What is a specialist family violence service?

Specialist family violence services hold expertise in assessing and analysing family violence as an abuse of power and control situated within complex patriarchal social conditions and intersecting oppressions. 

Specialist family violence practitioners are highly skilled in understanding what people experiencing family violence are going through and how to help them keep safe. They know the wider family violence system and how to navigate the different services and support that is needed.

Specialist family violence services have multiple legislated responsibilities under the MARAMIS, including risk assessment and risk management, information sharing, and providing secondary consultation and coordinated case management leadership with other sectors.

Victim survivors are at the centre of service provision. As such, specialist family violence services are voluntary, meaning that they are not statutory (like child protection or police). Victim survivors have choice and control in their engagement, which is relevant to providing a trauma-informed and anti-oppressive approach.

What services do they provide?

Specialist family violence practitioners have a dedicated and distinct role in responding to victim survivors. The orientation of practice is focused on the victim survivor’s safety and managing the dynamic risk posed by the perpetrator.

A specialist family violence practitioner’s role is to: 

  • solely focus on the risk and safety needs of the victim survivor
  • advocate with, and on behalf of, victim survivors for their rights
  • coordinate with other services to ensure that victim survivors receive high quality, seamless support. 

Specialist family violence practitioners may receive a call from a victim survivor or a referral from Victoria Police (L17s), The Orange Door or another organisation such as a health service.

A specialist family violence worker will talk to a victim survivor and:

  • ask about their experience
  • assess the level of risk of harm to the victim survivor and their children
  • undertake safety planning
  • offer information and options for support
  • help them navigate through the other support services they may need to access (such as housing, child protection and legal)
  • advocate on behalf of the victim survivor.

Specialist family violence services also provide secondary consultation and co-case management with allied services to support victim survivors already engaged with other parts of the service system.

Types of specialist family violence services

Statewide family violence telephone services
Statewide telephone services provide a 24-hour response to victim survivors of family violence. This includes providing crisis responses, information and advocacy, trauma-informed support, family violence risk assessments and safety planning, and referrals to local family violence support, family violence accommodation and other types of services as required.
After hours or 24-hour support
These agencies offer support outside of regular business hours including on weekends and public holidays.
Local family violence support
These services provide case management, risk assessment, safety planning, crisis response, referrals, advocacy support and other specialised programs across metro, regional and rural parts of Victoria. Local services often work in co-located and multi-agency settings, such as police stations, courts, sexual assault services and in The Orange Door.
Family violence accommodation
These services provide temporary accommodation for victim survivors who are unable to stay at home due to serious family violence risk. Accommodation options include short-term crisis accommodation, refuges and transitional housing.
Therapeutic programs
These provide individual counselling and support groups for adults, children and young people who have experienced family violence. They also include programs that address adolescent family violence and programs that focus on supporting parents/carers and children to restore bonds disrupted by family violence.
Tailored family violence services
These are specialist family violence services or programs – either at the statewide or local level – that provide support for victim survivors from specific communities, such as multicultural or LGBTIQA+ communities, older people and people with disability. These services provide responses such as case management, accommodation, therapeutic programs and other tailored programs.
Aboriginal family violence services
There are a range of specialist family violence services located within Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations or programs in community health services or local family violence services. They provide responses such as case management, accommodation, therapeutic programs and other tailored programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Family Safety Contact
Family Safety Contact practitioners support current or former partners or other family members of a perpetrator involved in a behaviour change program. Regular contact is organised with victim survivors to assess, manage and review changes in risk while the perpetrator is in the program, and provide referrals and other support resources as required.


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