Media Release | Next Phase Of Family Violence Reform

The next phase of the Andrews Labor Government’s overhaul of Victoria’s family violence system begins today with the inaugural two-day intensive workshop of the Family Violence Steering Committee.

Victims, Victoria Police and the state’s peak service groups are among the committee members helping guide the Labor Government as it implements the 227 recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

The committee is part of the Government’s work to build a new system alongside family violence victims and survivors, as well as the people and organisations that support them.

The committee, which is co-chaired by the Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence Fiona Richardson and Domestic Violence Victoria CEO Fiona McCormack, has agreed to apply the principles of co-design to support the implementation of the Royal Commission’s recommendations.

This week’s workshop will begin work on identifying priority reforms and finalising the Steering Committee’s working arrangements, which will be reviewed after three months.

The agenda will be supported initially with the Andrews Labor Government’s $572 million package in the Victorian Budget 2016/17 that represents the largest investment in responding to victims’ needs and helping to prevent family violence before the harm is done.

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Family Violence Fund Assists Vulnerable Victorians

The Andrews Labor Government today launched a new grants program to support Victorians affected by family violence.

Attorney General Martin Pakula announced the Community Legal Centre Family Violence Fund during a visit to the Springvale Monash Legal Service.

The fund will offer $1.3 million in grants to community legal centres and Aboriginal legal services to provide family violence-related services to vulnerable and disadvantaged Victorians.

Individual agencies will be eligible for grants of up to $50,000 to continue or expand family violence services during the next financial year.

People affected by family violence often have complex needs. The fund will also support legal centres that provide allied legal assistance services for needs and issues arising out of family violence, such as tenancy and debt matters.

A further $1.2 million will be distributed to for the 23 centres who received grants last year through the Family Violence Duty Lawyer Fund.

This funding will enable centres to continue delivering legal advice and vital duty lawyer services in Magistrates’ Courts across Victoria.

Further information about the grants program is available at the Department of Justice and Regulation’s Community Legal Centre Grants website

Applications for funding will close at midnight on 29 July 2016.

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National Push To Support Families At Risk

Minister for Families and Children Jenny Mikakos has welcomed support from state and territory ministers for a national approach to issues affecting families and children, including family violence.

Ms Mikakos today hosted a meeting of Children and Families Ministers and representatives from seven states and territories to discuss the significant challenges facing jurisdictions including family violence, better out-of-home care for children, workforce training and data linkages.

The meeting, the first in nearly two years, discussed calls from family violence campaigners including Rosie Batty to address issues within the Family Court of Australia.

Ms Mikakos called on the next Federal Government to reform the Family Court as recommended by the Royal Commission into Family Violence and put more resources into supporting women and children survivors of family violence.

Ms Mikakos also briefed other jurisdictions about Victoria’s social policy reform agenda, including the Roadmap for Reform and response to recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

Labor is providing $572 million to address housing, specialist family violence services and funding of family violence prevention.

This includes $168 million for the Roadmap which is designed to shift Victoria’s Child Protection system from a crisis response to prevention and early intervention.

The meeting also called on the next Federal Government to:

  • introduce a dedicated Medicare billing item for children in out of home care
  • to provide better child care support for vulnerable families
  • break down the barriers foster and kinship carers experience at Centrelink
  • reform tax laws to support new forms of foster care

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Support For Allied Health Workers To Tackle Family Violence

The Andrews Labor Government will deliver $2.3 million for new initiatives to help Victoria’s allied health workers better respond to family violence and keep our most vulnerable children safe.

As part of the latest round of the Advanced Practice in Allied Health Workforce grants program, 17 health services will share in funding to support 24 projects across the state.

The program supports allied health workers across Victoria to receive the training they need to build their skills and ability to deliver even more services and ensure patients receive the right care, at the right time.

In 2016, the program is funding projects responding to the Royal Commission into Family Violence and the Roadmap for Reform: Strong Families, Safe Children.

Other projects will focus on preventative care in community health services, as well as enhancing podiatry, psychology, physiotherapy, dietetics, speech therapy and palliative care services.

Advanced practice allied health workers are in a unique position to identify and respond to family violence and childhood trauma and deliver specialist support to women within a safe and supportive environment.

The Royal Children’s Hospital, Northern Health, Djerriwarrh Health Services and Annie North Incorporated will all run projects to help staff better respond to family violence.

Meanwhile, Barwon Health, Western Health and Austin Health will benefit from funding to improve early identification of childhood trauma in emergency departments, paediatric units and specialist clinics.

The Victorian Budget 2016/17 delivered an extra $2.45 billion for health so hospitals can admit more patients, reduce waiting times, upgrade buildings and infrastructure, and keep Victorians healthy.

It invested $168 million to make sweeping changes to the child protection system and shift the focus from crisis response to prevention and early intervention for vulnerable children, young people and families, and $527 million to respond to the recommendations from the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

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First Step In National Domestic Violence Scheme

Attorney-General Martin Pakula today introduced legislation to begin the process of ensuring domestic violence orders made in Victoria can be enforced Australia-wide.

The Bill cements a commitment made during the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) last year to help establish a National Domestic Violence Order scheme.

The National Domestic Violence Order Scheme Bill 2016 will mark the first step towards ensuring Victorian domestic violence orders can be included in a future national database and enforced across the country.

The database would also have the effect of allowing domestic violence orders made in other states or territories to be enforced in Victoria.

Under the proposed legislation, police in Victoria will also be given expanded powers to enter and search a property without a warrant if they form a reasonable belief that a person is at the property in breach of a DVO made in another state or territory.

Police would also be able to use expanded powers to detain a person for the purpose of serving a family violence intervention order or family violence safety notice.

Plans to develop the future national database are being developed by the Commonwealth Government.

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Getting On With Ending The Homelessness Crisis

People who require urgent housing as a result of crisis will soon have more options as a result of innovative housing and homelessness projects created and funded by the Andrews Labor Government.

Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing Martin Foley inspected the site of a planned new youth accommodation refuge at Melbourne City Mission’s Frontyard Integrated Youth Service in King Street today.

Frontyard is one of the four projects to share in $25 million from the Andrews Labor Government’s Accommodation for the Homeless fund and is just the tip of the iceberg to address the urgent housing need.

The $50 million Rapid Housing Assistance Fund, which aims to provide at least 130 new social housing properties and 100 head-leased properties for an immediate increase in social housing stock, will help people in housing crisis as a result of family violence.

The expression of interest process for this fund close on Friday with the Government receiving more than 20 applications from the community housing sector.

The funds for the 230 social housing properties and at least 24 new beds at Frontyard are part of the $152 million housing blitz underway to address recommendations from the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

The Labor Government is committed to providing immediate housing and support for people in need and is focusing on early intervention to prevent homelessness.

We will also be working with the Family Violence Housing Assistance Implementation Taskforce on projects to build and redevelop family violence refuges, expand crisis accommodation, fund up to 230 new social housing homes within 12 months, and partner with agencies to help people access the private rental market.

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More Training To Identify And Respond To Family Violence

The Andrews Labor Government is helping professionals identify, assess and manage the risk of family violence with an additional $675,000 for training.

Following the Royal Commission into Family Violence, there has been increased demand for training in the Family Violence Risk Assessment and Management Framework, also known as the common risk assessment framework, or CRAF.

This additional funding will ensure that this vital training will continue to be delivered throughout Victoria.

The CRAF was launched in 2007 and has helped practitioners working in a wide range of fields to understand and identify risk factors associated with family violence and respond consistently and appropriately.

The Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria provides CRAF training and since 2007, more than 6,500 workers have participated in the training.

Training will continue statewide while the Labor Government reviews and redevelops the current CRAF – delivering on the first recommendation of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

Hundreds of people have already contributed to the review of the CRAF, being conducted by Monash University, through an online survey, interviews and focus groups.

The next phase of redevelopment is due to begin from July to be completed by December 2017.

This additional funding boost for training comes on top of the Labor Government’s $572 million response to the Royal Commission’s recommendations.

It also supports the Government’s $168 million Roadmap for Reform, which places an even greater focus on early intervention and prevention to mitigate the effects of family violence.

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More Victorians To Stand Up To Elder Abuse

Meals on Wheels workers, local chemists and seniors clubs will be asked to join the grassroots fight against elder abuse as part of the Andrews Labor Government’s plan to overhaul Victoria’s family violence system.

Council home carers, community organisations and health centres, men’s sheds and health workers will be among the participants of a program to mobilise the power of locals to help older victims, deter perpetrators and identify the signs of abuse.

Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence, Fiona Richardson, has announced the Labor Government will immediately invest $200,000 in 12 months’ startup funding to help more local service providers and community groups prevent elder abuse.

The program will roll out in five communities in Melbourne, and regional and rural Victoria with the support of Seniors Rights Victoria.

Up to one in 20 older Victorians might be a victim of family violence – not just physical, but often in the form of financial exploitation or psychological and emotional abuse at the hands of their children.

The program will also begin establishing links between different local groups so the whole community can help reduce elder abuse by learning how to refer victims so they can get the help they need.

This work helps the Government implement recommendation 139 of the Royal Commission into Family Violence. It comes on top of $1 million provided in the Victorian Budget 2016/17to help prevent elder abuse.

Seniors Rights Victoria is a member of the Family Violence Steering Committee that will help the Labor Government reshape a new family violence system that puts victims at the centre of our reforms and makes perpetrators accountable for their behaviour.

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