In the SHRFV 'Birds Eye View' newsletter we feature a partner profile and health service update. 

Click below to read the profiles from March 2020.

Ballan District Health & Care were the featured health service for March 2020. 

Read more about the work they've been doing in SHRFV. 

Health Service Update

WRISC were the feature family violence service for
March 2020. 

Read more about how WRISC respond to family violence and how the health service can engage with them.

Partner Profile


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





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Partner Profile
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.'

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Partner Profile
Victoria Police  

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

  • Serious offending/violence

  • 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.”   

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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.

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Partner Profile
WRISC Family Violence Support 

This month we look at WRISC 
to learn about the family violence support services they deliver
and the most effective way for health services to engage with them.

Executive Officer: Libby Jewson 

What family violence services do WRISC offer?

WRISC provides case management, support and advocacy through their Family Violence Outreach Program and can assist in safety planning, making the home safe for the victim survivor, financial assistance, court support including assistance in seeing a lawyer for advice, organising counselling and referring women and children to safe accommodation when required.

We also provide an Aboriginal Family Violence Program, similar to the Family Violence Outreach Program. This program is delivered with cultural understanding and a holistic focus and in partnership with the Aboriginal community and other Aboriginal run services. Aboriginal women lead and are part of the program and the whole team support women and children who identify themselves, or a family member, as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.


How has the WRISC response to family violence changed or been informed by the Royal Commission into Family Violence and broader sector reforms?

The Royal Commission reforms have made many organisations including ours more accountable in our case management and intake processes. The Royal Commission has recommended a far more integrated approach to responding to Family Violence. The Royal Commission recommendations has also seen the development of the Dhelk Dja Safe Our Way plan which focuses on Strong culture, strong families and strong peoples within the Aboriginal Community. There is also more focus on understanding family violence through the eyes of children, Van Go (mobile creative therapies for children) is part of a therapeutic counselling consortium in the Central Highlands region.


What is the best way for someone from the health service to contact WRISC regarding a family violence situation? When would this be appropriate and is it different after-hours?

Anyone from the health service can refer a patient or staff member to our service, WRISC also accepts self-referrals. Referrals can be made by phone, in person or through other agencies. WRISC is open during business hours Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm.  (for after-hours assistance contact Safe Steps on 1800 015 188 or in an emergency 000.)


How is WRISC collaborating with partner organisations to improve outcomes for people impacted by family violence?

WRISC works alongside Victoria Police, Berry Street, CAFS, Department of Health and Human Services, Ballarat Law Courts, BADAC, SalvoConnect and many other services in order to provide women and children with the support they need to manage family violence. WRISC welcomes the opening of the Orange Door in 2020 in Ballarat and looks forward to working with them to support women and children affected by family violence.

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?

When a victim survivor discloses family violence, believe their story, it takes immense courage to speak up and not being believed is a missed opportunity to assist in keeping women and children safe.


Health Service Update
Ballan District Health and Care  


Ballan District Health and Care have been
proactive in implementing the SHRFV initiative.
This month we hear about their achievements
and the focus of their work in 2020.


Executive Sponsor: Ann Griffin 
Project Lead: Michaela Johnston 


Ballan District Health & Care (BDHC) is a small, not-for profit, privately owned hospital offering GP Clinic, Allied Health, Hospital and Aged Care services to the people of Ballan and the surrounding districts. Ballan is a rapidly growing town, with an ageing population.

Our primary objective at BDHC is to ensure all management and clinical staff have completed SHRFV modules one and two by the end of 2020, and we are well on our way.

One of our main obstacles is being able to provide training around our staff’s shifts.  With clinical staff working across a variety of day and night shifts, and with 70% of our staff being part time, it has been a challenge to provide access for all. So, this year we will be varying training times (with some to be ‘after hours’) so our people on the front line have the knowledge, the confidence and the resources to provide the best care and support for their co-workers, and our community.

Our Contact Officers are pivotal to the health and well-being of our staff, and we are in the process of putting together a poster, which includes their photos and contact details, to introduce them and highlight the work that they do. We plan to display posters on the back of toilet doors, in lunch rooms, and in various other staff areas. Family violence is quite a confronting concept, and especially so in our sleepy little hollow, but with incidences of family violence potentially being higher than average for us, due to our staff ratios (88% of our staff are female), we want to be on the front foot.

The #16Days of Activism project was a powerful visual in highlighting gender bias. As part of this important initiative, we placed a Tree of Hope in our GP Clinic foyer, with leaves of support available for those who wished to provide words of support to colleagues and members of the community. We also used the #16Days of Activism imagery and tools provided for the BDHC Facebook page and internal ‘all staff’ emails.

I would like to personally thank all of those involved with the SHRFV Project at Ballarat Health Services and at The Women’s for their passion, knowledge, empathy and support in providing the education, the resources and the time required for such an important project.

I look forward to working with the amazing SHRFV teams around Victoria in 2020.


Michaela Johnston

BDHC SHRFV Project Lead