Family violence

Family violence, also known as domestic violence, can include physical, verbal, sexual or emotional abuse.

Witnessing episodes of violence between people they love can affect young children as much as if they were the victims of the violence. Even very young children can be profoundly frightened and affected. 

Children who witness regular acts of family violence have greater emotional and behavioural problems than other children.

Family violence Therapeutic Interventions program

In January 2019 the Minister approved a call for submission process to invest $21.2 million for ongoing funding to establish a state-wide therapeutic platform to deliver therapeutic interventions for victim survivors of family violence. The new investment responds to client need with a focus on recovery, healing and safety through individually tailored and planned responses to client need.

For information on the service providers, see Family violence therapeutic program providers on the website.

Family violence support services

The department provides both support services and violence prevention programs for people who have experienced family violence, through the following services:

  • Family violence prevention and support services – early intervention services and post-crisis support
  • Indigenous Family Violence Strategy – a community led initiative to develop a whole-of-government response to family violence in Indigenous communities. It is jointly managed by Aboriginal Affairs Victoria, the department and the Office of Women's Policy
  • Men's behaviour change programs – promoting the safety of women and children and helping men to be accountable and responsible to family members, and encouraging change in men’s behaviour
  • Sexual assault support services – include crisis care responses, counselling, casework, group-work, advocacy and a statewide after-hours telephone crisis service
  • Sexually abusive behaviour treatment services – for children and young people under the age of 15 years who display problem sexual behaviour or sexually abusive behaviour towards others
  • Court advocacy and referral – for women seeking intervention orders and also offering support to children to improve their coping skills.

These services aim to promote early intervention strategies to prevent the occurrence, or escalation of family violence and prevent the recurrence of family violence by offering post crisis support.

  • Family violence referral protocol between the department, FSV, DOJR and Victoria Police

    The aim of this protocol is to document effective referral pathways between Victoria Police, family violence services funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Family Safety Victoria (FSV), and victims of crime support services funded by the Department of Justice and Regulation (DOJR), so that victims are better protected and family violence is reduced over time.

    This protocol outlines the approaches for:

    • Formal and informal referrals by police for victims of family violence to family violence and other services
    • Assessing the risk to any child or young person who is present, has witnessed or is affected by a family violence incident, and referring that child or young person to appropriate support services
    • Formal and informal referrals by police for perpetrators of family violence to services
    • Referral by family violence services for police assistance.

    This version has been updated to add Family Safety Victoria as a Party and reflect statewide changes to the service system, such as the establishment of Support and Safety Hubs, the introduction of the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme and the enhanced after-hours crisis response model.

    Family violence referral protocol between DHHS, FSV, DOJR and Victoria Police (pdf)

    Family violence referral protocol between DHHS, FSV, DOJR and Victoria Police - Accessible (word)

  • Assessing children and young people experiencing family violence – A practice guide for family violence practitioners

    This practice guide aims to support family violence professionals to assess the safety and needs of unborn children, infants, children and young people affected by family violence.

    The guide will assist family violence professionals to:

    • Structure, streamline and enhance their organisation’s practice to support the safety, stability and healthy development of every child
    • Strengthen their collaboration with colleagues in Family Services and Child Protection in line with the objectives of the Children, Youth and Families Act 2005.

    Assessing children and young people experiencing family violence practice guide (word)

  • Good practice – working together to support children and young people experiencing family violence

    A main feature of the policy reforms for both the Victorian child and family services sector and the family violence sector has been the establishment of multi-service approaches that work together to meet the needs of children and young people more effectively .

    This publication draws together a collection of case studies that highlight how practitioners from Child Protection, Child FIRST, Integrated family services and family violence services can effectively work together to improve outcomes for children and young people experiencing family violence.

    Good practice – working together to support children and young people experiencing family violence (word)

  • Family violence risk assessment and risk management framework

    Family violence risk assessment and risk management framework (also known as the common risk assessment framework) training was developed to increase the capacity of professionals, such as health workers, family violence service providers and court workers, to more effectively identify and respond to women and children experiencing family violence.

    For more information, see Family violence risks assessment and risk management framework.

  • Men's behaviour change programs

    Men's behaviour change programs play an important role in promoting the safety of women and children. These programs focus on making men accountable and responsible for their violence toward family members. The purpose of these programs is to encourage the change process in men's behaviour and they provide a forum for exploring and challenging beliefs.

    For more information, see Men's behaviour change program for guides, standards and frameworks.

  • Adolescent Family Violence Service

    The Adolescent Family Violence Service aims to reduce adolescent family violence and increase the safety of all impacted family members. This is through the provision of a family-based case management and providing support to young people using violence against a parent or carer.

    Referrals to this program are can be made by contacting the following agencies:

    For more information, see Lookout website for a contact list of family violence regional integration coordinators.

    Adolescent Family Violence Program service model (word)

  • Family violence flexible support packages

    Family violence flexible support packages are available to people who are experiencing, or have experienced family violence. These packages deliver a personalised and holistic response to victim survivors experiencing family violence. They are assisted to access support, move out of crisis, stabilise and improve their safety, well-being and independence.

    Program requirements for the delivery of family violence flexible support packages (word)

  • Women and children counselling and support programs practice guidelines

    For many Victorian women and children, counselling and support services can provide a vital and validating source of support in which to rebuild a sense of self-esteem and confidence to live a life free from family violence.

    These guidelines have been developed through a process of statewide consultation with practitioners who work to support women and children affected by family violence. The guidelines represent the standards of practice we expect to be provided to women and children and will guide quality practice and continuous improvement to ensure women and children receive the best support possible to rebuild and recover from the impact of family violence.

    Practice guidelines: Women and children's family violence counselling and support programs (pdf)

  • Addressing family violence in communities recovering from emergencies

    Research has demonstrated an increased risk of escalating family violence after emergencies. It is well recognised that specific vulnerabilities exist for women, men and people with diverse gender identities, and that additional vulnerabilities such as age, culture, and disability, can further impact the experience of family violence and access to support services.

    The strategy will:

    • Increase awareness of local and regional family violence risk and impacts
    • Ensure family violence issues are considered in local and regional recovery planning, and
    • Support the implementation of prevention and support initiatives, including gendered and inclusive recovery approaches.

    Addressing family violence in emergency recovery (word)

  • Aboriginal family violence consultants' guidelines

    The Aboriginal family violence consultants' guidelines have been developed for consultants working on projects related to the Indigenous Family Violence Strategy for Aboriginal communities in Victoria.

    The guidelines aim to provide guidance to consultants undertaking research/consultations and applies fundamental philosophies of consultation with Aboriginal people.

    A consultation check list has been developed to help consultants prepare and plan for working with Indigenous Family Violence Regional Action Groups and Aboriginal communities around family violence.

    Aboriginal family violence consultants’ guidelines (word).

  • Personal Safety Initiative operational guidelines

    The Personal Safety Initiative operational guidelines were produced by Family Safety Victoria in conjunction with other Victorian Government agencies and community service organisations to support the consistent delivery of personal safety, technology and security responses in Victoria under the Personal Safety Initiative (PSI). 

    The purpose of these operational guidelines is to provide agencies, organisations, service providers and other stakeholders with detailed information about the Personal Safety Initiative (PSI), to ensure consistent delivery and access to personal safety, technology and security responses for victim survivors of family violence in Victoria. These guidelines are relevant to all agencies, organisations, service providers and other stakeholders responsible for the delivery of PSI responses in Victoria. 

    The guidelines outline:

    • The principles that underpin the PSI 
    • The PSI model, and components of a PSI response 
    • Roles and responsibilities of stakeholders involved in the delivery of the PSI 
    • Operational and governance arrangements for the PSI. 

    The guidelines aim to:

    • Enable a shared understanding across Victoria of the purpose and role of PSI responses in supporting victim survivors of family violence
    • Provide detailed information for key stakeholders about the PSI model and its core components
    • Improve understanding and engagement of all stakeholders to increase safety and improve responses for victim survivors
    • Ensure a consistent statewide approach for victim survivors receiving a PSI response across Victoria.