Family violence reforms rushed, says monitor

By David Donaldson

Monday March 25, 2019

Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor Tim Cartwright

Victoria is rushing its family violence reforms, says the man who monitors implementation.

One of the key pieces of Victoria’s family violence reforms are its support and safety hubs, also known as the ‘orange door’, which help directly connect people experiencing family violence with the right services to respond to a range of different needs.

“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,” explains Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor Tim Cartwright.

But the implementation of the first five hubs — which required developing an effective operating model and recruiting a new workforce — was “rushed”, Cartwright found in his second report to parliament on how the government is implementing the 227 recommendations of the Family Violence Royal Commission.

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

“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.”

Coordination and silos, highlighted in last year’s report, remain problems.

“Government agencies have put in good work and their commitment is evident but this work is yet to be brought together effectively,” argues Cartwright.

“Implementation is still largely siloed within agencies, and coordination is proving to be a challenge. Some of this is due to gaps in capability, some to issues with the governance framework, and some due to the enormous ambition of the reform.

“It requires a different way of working. Looking at the reform in totality can be overwhelming hence the tendency to stay siloed — to stay in the way we’ve done it before. Taking a new approach requires real leadership at all levels of government. This won’t be easy but it is possible.”

Additionally, the speed of the changes is presenting challenges to family violence workforces in both the government and non-government sectors.

“In the community services sector, the workforce does not yet exist on the scale required,” the report argues.

“There are simply not the people with the required training to take on these roles. Some of the service sector organisations are very small and have had to build up their teams quickly, which presents significant challenges in recruitment but also training and management.”

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

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