Responding to family violence and the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme

Background

In 2015, a Royal Commission into Family Violence was undertaken to examine the family violence response system from the ground up and put victim survivors at the centre of family violence reform. The Royal Commission’s report, which made 227 recommendations was released in March 2016.

Four of the recommendations (25,26,27 and 28) relate specifically to improving child protection practice and systems to better respond to family violence. Key themes relating to child protection practice include:

  • the invisibility of perpetrators of family violence in the child protection system;
  • the pressures placed on parents (typically mothers) identified as ‘protective parents’ and a lack of attention to post-separation violence; and
  • a lack of support provided to ‘protective parents’ by child protection. 

It was found that by focusing on a mothers’ capacity to protect, rather than a fathers’ responsibility to change, child protection practice can contribute to perpetrators (often fathers) being invisible to the system.

Our response

A Child Protection Family Violence Steering Committee (steering committee), including representatives from across government departments and the service sector, was formed in August 2016 to oversee implementation of the four recommendations.

Areas of focus for the steering committee include: updating child protection guidelines to improve information sharing with Victoria Police and specialist family violence services; equipping child protection practitioners and managers to better engage with perpetrators of family violence wherever it is safe to do so, and developing and implementing robust plans for the child’s safety, inclusive of appropriate referrals, as part of statutory case practice.

Two new practice advice, a procedure and practitioner tip sheet, have now been published and include:

Significant updates have also been made to the following information:

Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme

The Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (the scheme) is designed to enable safe information sharing between professionals in a timely manner to assist with preventing or reducing family violence.

From 26 February 2018, community based child protection practitioners located within Support and Safety Hubs, and child protection practitioners delegated to represent the child protection program on Risk Assessment and Management Panels (RAMPs) will be prescribed under the Family Violence Information Sharing Act 2017.

For further information please see Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme and Family Violence Information Sharing decision trees.

As progress continues to enhance child protection’s responses to family violence, further updates will be made on the manual.

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