New family violence agency opens doors

By David Donaldson

July 3, 2017

Family Safety Victoria, the Andrews government’s new family violence agency, officially came into being over the weekend with the beginning of the financial year.

It represents a more permanent setup for delivering the state’s big-spending plan to end family violence, which has previously been primarily driven by a ballooning Department of Premier and Cabinet.

The government announced on Friday that Sue Clifford will be Family Safety Victoria’s inaugural CEO, moving across from Victoria Police.

Clifford has held positions at executive and commander level in the force and has extensive experience delivering community safety strategies. She holds an executive master of public administration and worked at the AFL for several years on people and culture.

She will formally commence the role in August, with Chris Asquini acting in the position in the interim.

As Victoria’s first-ever agency dedicated solely to family violence reform, Family Safety Victoria will lead the implementation of new initiatives, including establishing the central information point that will allow police, courts and government services to track perpetrators and keep victims safe.

It will also be responsible for establishing the Centre for Workforce Excellence, which will help boost the capabilities of specialist family violence, primary prevention and social service workforces.

The government is spending a significant amount on dealing with family violence. The state budget’s $1.9 billion package includes:

  • $448.1 million to establish 17 support and safety hubs across the state, to give women and children coordinated support;
  • $270.8 million for after-hours crisis support, counselling and therapy for women and children;
  • $269.4 million to implement five specialist family violence courts across the state and make the system more responsive to victims’ needs;
  • $133.2 million will go towards extra long-term housing, more rental assistance, improved crisis accommodation and better support for people fleeing family violence.

“We promised to do everything we can to end family violence — and this new agency will help do that,” said Acting Premier James Merlino.

“Sue Clifford’s skills and experience will drive the work of Family Safety Victoria, to implement our extensive reforms and help put an end to family violence.”

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