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Family Violence Support and Safety Hubs opened in haste, Monitor finds.

The Victorian Government has rushed the implementation of the first five Support and Safety Hubs, according to the second Annual Report of the Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor.

The report, tabled in Parliament today, said while the Government was to be congratulated for establishing the Hubs – the first of their kind in Australia – significant risks remained around their effectiveness.

Support and Safety Hubs, known as The Orange Door, help directly connect people experiencing family violence with the right services to respond to a range of different needs. They are central to the Government’s family violence reform package.

“Biggest budget, biggest change, biggest profile,” said the Monitor, Tim Cartwright.

“The Hubs are an incredible concept and should be a game changer for current and future victim survivors. That’s why it is vital they are done properly.

“However, the implementation of the first five Hubs – which included developing an effective operating model and recruiting a new workforce was rushed.

“The initial planned time frame for the first five Hubs was insufficient to locate appropriate premises, negotiate leases and prepare for service delivery.

“I am not criticising the people staffing the Hubs or those at Family Safety Victoria (FSV) who are working tirelessly to implement the reform package, but as the Monitor it is my role to hold the Government to account. Getting it right will the ensure the whole system runs more efficiently. 

“This was an inherently risky venture and while I understand the urgency all too well, I would like to see the Government balance the advantages of maintaining momentum and opening quickly against the additional costs this approach incurs and the increased risks.”

The report also noted the role FSV played in mitigating some of the risks by establishing minimum requirements before a Hub could be opened and allowing for growth and local needs in the design process. 

The report focused on another two key areas of reform:

  • Primary prevention; and
  • The voices of victim survivors.

In the primary prevention space, Mr Cartwright said the establishment of Respect Victoria was a “great achievement”, a pivotal moment in the challenge to break the cycle of violence.

“This is Australia’s first agency to be established in the primary prevention space, working to change the attitudes, social norms and culture that lead to family violence. The Government is to be congratulated on its set up.

“There is now the opportunity to strengthen coordination between agencies working in prevention.”

Mr Cartwright also praised the work of the Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council (VSAC) as one way of consulting victim survivors and ensuring their voices are finally heard.

However, he said while VSAC “provides invaluable feedback…more needs to be done to ensure a wide variety of voices to inform ongoing policy and service delivery”.

Mr Cartwright concluded he continued “to be impressed and humbled by the commitment of all the people I meet in this role.” 

“We’ve come a long way. We’ve got a long way to go. Ending family violence will take a generation or more.”

This report will be Mr Cartwright’s final one. He announced his retirement from the role last month, to take effect by August.

“I am confident whoever replaces me will have the relevant experience, integrity, independence and passionate commitment to ensure continuous and sustained government focus and effort to end family violence.”

Media contact:

Wendy Wade 0408 021 293 or wendy.wade@fvrim.vic.gov.au

Reviewed 28 August 2019

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