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.