The Code of Practice: Principles and Standards for Specialist Family Violence Services for Victim Survivors (the Code) is provided to the specialist family violence service sector by its peak body, Safe and Equal. It is an essential industry resource and guide to inform service design and continuous quality improvement.
The Code is an important part of the peak body’s work to drive service innovation and practice excellence in partnership with member organisations. We support the specialist family violence service sector to translate the Code into their own service settings.
The first edition of the Code was released in 2006. It informed the development of the sector over many years and provided a key resource for the broader family violence system. It was also one of the first guidelines of its kind and has served as a model for other states in Australia and internationally.
The second edition of the Code articulates principles and standards to guide consistent quality service provision for victim survivors accessing specialist family violence services in Victoria. It was developed using a range of research processes, including participatory consultations with specialist family violence service leaders and practitioners, government and sector partners, and victim survivor advisers. The Code is founded on a framework that is underpinned by an evidence-based understanding of family violence, intersectional feminist analysis, and supporting frameworks including human rights, social justice, anti-oppressive practice, and a trauma and violence-informed approach.
The purpose of the Code is to articulate a set of principles and standards to guide consistent, quality service provision for victim survivors accessing specialist family violence services in Victoria, Australia.
The objectives of the Code are to:
- describe the evidence base and theoretical frameworks that inform the shared principles and standards of specialist family violence services
- support continuous quality improvement to enable consistent, inclusive, safe and accountable service design and delivery
- clarify the relationship of the Code with other essential systems resources that inform specialist family violence service responses
- provide guidance on the leadership role of specialist family violence services within the family violence response system and broader social change advocacy.
The Code provides an overarching ethical framework for specialist family violence service provision, within ten principles:
- Risk and safety focus
- Person-centred empowerment
- Confidentiality and information management
- Collaboration and advocacy
- Perpetrator accountability
- Child-centered practice
- Aboriginal self determination
- Inclusion and equity
- Capable and sustainable workforce
- Quality governance and leadership.
Each principle has its own set of standards with specific indicators to go with them. These provide a practical way for organisations to embed the principles into service design and delivery.
The Code provides foundational guidance and organisational-level standards that are intended for translation by specialist family violence service providers into their own contexts. It is not a service model, operational manual or detailed practice guide; however, the Code can be used to inform the production of such resources for specialist family violence services.
How to use the Code
This section provides an overview of the intended use of the Code for continuous quality improvement and the roles and responsibilities to support this process.
Continuous quality improvement
The purpose of the Code is to articulate a set of principles and standards to guide consistent, quality service provision for victim survivors accessing specialist family violence services. As such, specialist family violence services can use the Code for continuous quality improvement by evidencing their progress against the standards and indicators, identifying gaps and trends, and making action plans for organisational change and improvement.
The Code is accompanied by a separate audit tool, which is available to assist specialist family violence services to use the Code as a resource for continuous quality improvement.
The tool is designed for services to:
- evidence and rate their performance against the standards and indicators of the Code
- identify and critically reflect on areas for internal improvement and change management
- identify impediments to meeting standards and indicators that may require improved systemic collaboration and/or advocacy
- develop and document action plans with timelines, key responsibilities and outcomes.
The audit tool also shows how the Code complements the Department of Health and Human Services Standards and the Community Services Quality Governance Framework. The Code is not intended to replace these essential resources; rather, the aim is to assist specialist family violence services to use the Code alongside these resources to provide high-quality family violence services to the community. Understanding the complements between the Code and these resources may also assist services to prepare for accreditation processes.
Who can use the Code?
Specialist family violence services
The purpose of the Code is to support consistency in specialist family violence service provision for victim survivors. It is the responsibility of service leaders (for example, executives, managers, board members) to use the Code and translate it into their own contexts, service design, and quality governance and continuous improvement systems.
It is also important that the Code is understood and used by specialist family violence practitioners. Services should support practitioners to engage with the Code by using it to inform staff induction, supervision, reflective practice and professional development.
Government departments with responsibilities for funding and contracting specialist family violence services can support implementation of the Code by inserting it into service contracts and using it to inform service models, capacity building, evaluation and regulation.
Education and training providers
The Code is available as a resource for educational institutions and training providers that have a role in preparing professionals to undertake specialist family violence service provision. This includes tertiary education institutions, registered training organisations, government training programs and community-based family violence training providers.
Code of Practice: Principles and Standards for Specialist Family Violence Services for Victim Survivors