The family violence system

Many different people make up a support network for a woman and her children experiencing family violence. Within her local community this may include her GP, her children’s school and her faith community. Beyond that is the family violence system, made up of many different services working together to make women and children safer and hold perpetrators to account.

They include:

  • Specialist family violence services, including refuges
  • Housing services
  • Community legal services
  • Police
  • Magistrates’ Courts and Family Courts
  • Child and Family services
  • Child Protection
  • Men’s referral services and men’s behaviour change programs
  • Corrections services

Specialist family violence services

Specialist services provide direct support to women and children experiencing family violence. Women can contact them directly, or they may be referred by police, GPs, hospitals or other services.

Housing services

Housing services assist with crisis accommodation, transitional (short-term housing for women moving out of crisis accommodation) and longer‐term housing.

Community legal centres

Community legal centres provide legal advice and support on intervention orders and a range of matters relating to the separation process. In Touch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence provides legal assistance for women from immigrant and refugee backgrounds, and the Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service (AFVPLS) provides support for Aboriginal women.

Police

Victoria Police officers attend family violence incidents if they are called. They make referrals (L17s) to specialist family violence services, family services and child protection as necessary and can issue intervention orders against perpetrators. They are also involved in family violence court proceedings.

Magistrates’ and Family Courts

Different courts serve different purposes. In family violence cases the Magistrates’ Courts deal with intervention orders and breaches, and issues related to financial abuse. They can make orders for perpetrators to attend a men’s behaviour change program or sentence them to serve time in jail for breaching intervention orders. The Family Courts (which are under the Commonwealth jurisdiction) deal with divorce, property settlement and parenting arrangements. The Koori Court, the Children’s Court and the County Court may also hear matters related to family violence.

Child and Family services

Child First and other family services work with families at risk of a range of problems associated with alcohol and other drugs, mental health and other social disadvantages, and who may also be experiencing family violence.

Child Protection

Child Protection, a part of the Department of Health and Human Services, may become involved where children are at serious risk of harm.

Men’s referral services and men’s behaviour change programs

Men’s referral services provide information, counselling support and referral to behaviour change programs for perpetrators of family violence.

Corrections

Corrections is part of the Victorian Department of Justice and Regulation and is responsible for correctional facilities, decisions about bail, parole and community orders.