In the SHRFV 'Birds Eye View' newsletter we feature a partner profile and health service update.
Click below to read the profiles from October 2019.
Maryborough District Health Service were the featured health service for February 2019.
Read more about the work they've been doing in SHRFV.
Health Service Update
Victoria Police Western Division were the feature family violence service for
Read more about how Victoria Police respond to family violence and how the health service can engage with them.
Family Violence Lectures
Clinical Champions Induction Sessions
Family Violence Professional Development
Family Violence Clinical Training Sessions
Health Service Update
Stawell Regional Health
Stawell Regional Health Service has been
proactive in implementing the SHRFV initiative.
This month we hear about their achievements
and the focus of their work in 2019.
Executive Sponsor: Rhys Duncan
Project Lead: Gemma Beavis
Last year saw the SHRFV initiative strengthen across Stawell Regional Health (SRH) with the appointment of a Project Lead and a working group convened. SHRFV Executive Sponsor, Rhys Duncan, identified strength and opportunity in partnering with the local specialist family violence agency to source a project lead one day per week, and to target key subject matter experts internally to form the working group. Working group members include representatives from Human Resources, Education, Policy, Social Work, Communications and Health Information and Data, with all members flourishing in their role on the working group.
The working group raised awareness around workplace support options for staff through a workplace morning and afternoon tea, and participation in the local White Ribbon event.
The SRH Project Lead worked closely with the Policy Officer to develop strong Family Violence Policies and Procedures for the health service that were endorsed at all levels. For new policies to be endorsed with full support from Executive shows the strength of their commitment. SRH acknowledge that it has been the informal conversations and case studies that has placed SRH in a better position to understand SHRFV and family violence more broadly.
Phase two of SHRFV at SRH will see training opportunities for all staff to build a deeper understanding of family violence and their roles in responding to a community wide issue. The Working Group is also exploring opportunities to increase participation in relevant family violence committees and partnerships.
It has been acknowledged that SRH has displayed a top down commitment to the SHRFV initiative from commencement, with an emphasis on collaboration. The SRH Working Group believe this approach has underpinned the success to date, and will be significant for future development of the initiative.
SRH staff at the Stawell White Ribbon Day Walk
Pictured left to right:
Libby Fifis, CEO
Ceri Hugo, HR Manager
Diane Waite, Social Worker
Judy Body, Executive Assistant
Ross Hatton, Board Director
Berry Street Western Region
This month we look at Berry Street Western Region
to learn about the family violence support services they deliver
and the most effective way for health services to engage with them.
Senior Manager: Denise O'Dowd
What family violence services do Berry Street offer?
Berry Street provide a range of support services to women and their children who have experienced family violence. We assist women and their children to remain safely within their community wherever possible and maintain a life free of violence, while also addressing their emotional and practical needs and issues arising from the violence. The breadth of our family violence services range from Case Management, Crisis Intervention and Court Outreach to Men’s Case Management and Engagement.
Our experience in operating specialist family violence services spans more than 20 years.
In 2016/17 our specialist family violence services worked with 4,000 referrals for the Western Family Violence team. Berry Street Western services six LGAs including Ballarat, Golden Plains, Ararat, Moorabool, Pyrenees and Hepburn.
What makes Berry Street different from other family violence services?
What makes Berry Street different is that we can offer a whole of family response to ensure the safety of women and children while holding perpetrators to account. Underpinning the service is a commitment to work within a feminist framework that acknowledges the gendered nature of violence against women and the social pattern of inequality in which violence and abuse is perpetrated. Our service also understands the negative impact of family violence on the development and well-being of infants, children and adolescents and provides therapeutic services that aim to respond to these.
How can someone from the health service to make a referral to Berry Street? Is this different for after-hours?
We offer a 24-hour, 7 day a week intake into our service through our intake number
03 5331 3558.
You will need to gain client consent before you place a referral, however our staff are also able to provide general advice and information about family violence to external agencies and the community.
How is Berry Street Western Region collaborating with partner organisations to improve outcomes for people impacted by family violence?
Berry Streets Western Family Violence Service’s connection to the wider service system is vast and significant. We enjoy a high level of community partnership, support and involvement in all the programs we currently offer. We recognise that the delivery of family violence programs for women and children who have experienced family violence means working collaboratively with all levels of government, the community, service users and an array of other services within the service system.
If you could offer one piece of advice for people who are learning about family violence and how to identify and respond, what would it be?
'The most important thing you can do is to listen without judging and believe what they are telling you, respect their decisions, and help them find ways to become safer.'
This month we spoke to Victoria Police to understand the work police do in
responding to family violence and how the health system can engage
with the police response.
Detective Senior Sergeant Tony Coxall
In terms of family violence what responses do police provide?
Front line police members provide a 24/7 response to family violence incidents. This front line response is supported by the Western Division 3 Family Violence Investigation Unit who triage all family violence incidents daily and take primacy of investigation for incidents based on our charter:
High risk perpetrator/victim
Threats to kill/ Assaults involving strangulation or a weapon
Significant property damage
Incidents involving priority communities where increased likelihood of future incidents
Other protracted investigations
How has the police response to family violence changed or been informed by the Royal Commission into Family Violence and broader sector reforms?
Wholesale changes have occurred across Victoria Police. These changes include:
Creation of Family Violence Command
Creation of Family Violence Centre of Excellence
Introduction of dedicated Detective positions (410 across the state) including 10 investigator positions for Western Division 3 and a dedicated family violence crime analyst
Creation of a dedicated divisional training Senior Sergeant
3 dedicated Family Violence Court Liaison Officers
A dedicated Family Violence Legal Advisor
Locally we have refreshed the Family Violence Liaison Officer Role at every 16 or 24 hour station. These members will receive enhanced training to ensure expertise for localised management of medium risk incidents and oversight of investigations. We have also created a Family Violence Frontline Support Unit in Ballarat.
In April and May this year we will be implementing enhanced training on L17’s and all investigators will undertake Case Prioritisation Model Training.
Family violence investigator specialist training is projected for 2020.
I hope that we are constantly improving whilst managing significant change. One thing for sure is that we are constantly reviewing our approach and looking for better responses from all members and outcomes for those involves.
What is the best way for someone from the health service to make contact with police regarding a family violence situation? When would this be appropriate and is this different for after-hours?
Depending on the location the best available response is via 000 or direct contact to the Station concerned. In most cases the initial response will be from a frontline member.
The Family Violence Investigation Unit triage all incidents but do not have the resourcing capacity to perform a frontline initial reporting role or respond to incidents 24/7.
The Family Violence Investigation Unit do however have a member rostered daily and most afternoons from 2pm to 10pm. The office number is 03 53 366128 and staff are always happy to offer guidance or assist where they can.
The Family Violence Investigation Unit email account checked daily is
This email can be used for general inquiries and information sharing requests.
At Ballarat Police Station the Family Violence Frontline Support Unit is available to assist with Intervention Order applications by appointment. SGT Daniel GRAINGER runs the unit. It is hoped this will reduce waiting time for affected family members and agencies in the police foyer.
How is Victoria Police – Western Division 3 collaborating with other organisations to improve outcomes for people impacted by family violence?
Western Division 3 Family Violence Unit continue to forge and solidify partnerships across all support and service agencies.
This includes RAMP, Koori Family Violence Local reference group, Central Highlands Integrated Family Violence Committee, The Orange Door and other dedicated committees and panels.
In the future it is hoped that a co-location model will assist information transfer and better family violence outcomes for all parties.
Western District 3 police will continue to increase resources and expand excellence in family violence in this region.
If you could offer one piece of advice for people who are learning about family violence and whom are still developing their skills and confidence in identifying and responding to family violence, what would it be?
“Family violence is a crime! Historically family violence has at times been accepted and even excused. We can no longer accept any excuse and must act to ensure judicial consequences. In time this approach will allow us to understand the full extent of family violence and how to best reduce it.”
Health Service Update
Maryborough District Health Service
This month we hear from Maryborough District Health Service and learn
about the implementation of the SHRFV initiative at their health service.
Executive Sponsor: Anne Watson
Program Lead: Tanya Miles
Maryborough District Health Service (MDHS) is championing the implementation of the Strengthening Hospital Responses to Family Violence (SHRFV) initiative; adopting a range of strategies to strengthen our response to family violence. Throughout 2019 we have built on our policy and procedure development of 2018 and expanded our interventions across the health service whilst continuing to develop partnerships with external stakeholders.
In 2019, we continued to strengthen our Family Violence Workplace Support Program and we now have eight dedicated Family Violence Contact Officers who meet monthly under the guidance of the People and Culture Coordinator. Family Violence Contact Officers also attend the regional Family Violence Contact Officer network to continue to build their capability in providing a workplace response to family violence and supporting staff who may be experiencing, or at risk of family violence.
More recently, ten Prevention of Family Violence Clinical Champions were appointed from across the health service to support the clinical response to family violence. This engaged and committed group of clinicians participated in a one day orientation session and seized the opportunity to participate in a small tutorial with Dr. Tra-ill Dowie on Trauma and Family Violence.
As a health service we continue to value partnerships with local service providers. We recognise that we are one part of the service system and by working collaboratively we can provide a more appropriate response for our consumers. MDHS partnerships with local services has been hugely successful and effective in supporting a change in our service response to family violence. The Centre for Non Violence and The Centre against Sexual Assault (CASA) co-locate at MDHS meaning referrals and or information can be sought very quickly and with discretion.
Through a partnership agreement with Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre MDHS also has a Social Worker and Community Lawyer located at MDHS who can provide support to clients with legal matters.
We also continue to collaborate with the local Rotary Group who actively seek to address family violence in many ways; one being with large hash tag signs posted around the township, including at the front of MDHS campus in Maryborough.
MDHS partnerships with local family violence services was recognised in the Victorian Public Healthcare awards 2018, where MDHS was “Highly Commended” for the “Whole-of-Hospital Model for Responding to Family Violence.”
We have recently commenced the delivery of Identifying and Responding to Family Violence Training with eight staff undertaking the train the trainer module so we have capacity internally to deliver this training. Training commenced with the Community and Allied Health Department and over twenty training sessions have been planned for the remainder of 2019 as we aim to achieve an achieve an 80% participation rate by all staff.
The adoption of various interventions across the health service has contributed to the successful implementation of the SHRFV initiative at MDHS and a health service with a strengthened response to family violence. The Family Violence Board Sub Committee who have oversight of the initiative have also demonstrated leadership and committed to supporting the implementation of this initiative.
As the health service in a local government area with the fifth highest reported rate of family violence in Victoria we recognise the impact family violence has on our consumers and we are committed to creating change in how we support people impacted by family violence. As a health service we can contribute to the broader social movement to end family violence and create a safe and respectful community.
One could say the impact of our interventions and perhaps the most important change of all is employee reports of feeling more ‘free’ to discuss family violence amongst their peers and more confident in recognising the signs and responding appropriately in the clinical setting.
We look forward to consolidating our work throughout 2020.
Image: #SayNO2familyviolence sign at MDHS Maryborough Campus.