Examples of Initiatives

University of Melbourne, WEAVERs

WEAVERs is an initiative of the University of Melbourne’s Research Alliance to End Violence against women and their children (MAEVe) and was established in 2016. The WEAVERs initiative was developed to ensure that the voices of women and children who have experienced family violence could influence the research agenda. The role of the WEAVERs is to advise MAEVe on areas of research and research design, which may include co-design and input into methodologies and undertake research in collaboration with MAEVEs Academic team.

WEAVERs also develop and carry out research on topics they determine and are provided with support to develop the skills they need to develop research questions, carry out data collection, undertake data analysis and write up findings. WEAVERs regularly present at research events, forums, and conferences.

Victorian Government, Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council

Following the Royal Commission into Family Violence in Victoria, a Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council (VSAC) was developed and supported by the Victorian government to ensure victim survivors of family violence are engaged in the implementation of recommendations. VSAC’s role is to:

  • Place people with lived experience at the centre of family violence reform.
  • Include people who have experienced family violence in service design of family violence reforms.
  • Advise on how family violence reform initiatives will impact on people who use services.
  • Ensure the government’s response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence meets the expectations of people with lived experience.
  • Ensure advice to the government reflects the diversity of the family violence experience.
  • Provide advice on specific issues requested by the Family Violence Committee of Cabinet and/or the Family Violence Steering Committee.

VSAC members are appointed for two years and are supported by members of the Secretariat who are situated in Family Safety Victoria. The first term of operation of VSAC has recently been evaluated.

Safe Steps Survivor Advocates

Safe Steps is the Victorian statewide response service for women, children and young people experiencing family violence. It provides a 24 hour response line, undertakes risk assessments, arranges access to emergency accommodation, provides emotional support and advocacy. Since 2007 Safe Steps has been running a Survivor Advocate Program. This was designed to empower women who have a lived experience of family violence to safely and effectively share their personal stories, and raise awareness of family violence and specialist family violence services with a range of community and media audiences. Safe Steps provides up to three days of training and ongoing support to women, equipping them with skills to effectively engage with the media and present at other events. Safe Steps regularly connects with advocates to offer debriefing and also to seek feedback about their experience of being involved in the program.

inTouch, Inspire for Change

inTouch, the Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence established an advisory group Inspire for Change: Multicultural Voices of Lived Experience in 2018. It comprises past clients to inform the current family violence reforms and advise various stakeholders on different issues relating to family violence. The group informs inTouch projects and programs as well as advocating for systemic changes. The group members provide expert advice based on their lived experiences in the prevention and response of violence against women and children, and are appointed for 12 months.

Drummond St, iHeal Family Violence Recovery

The iHeal Family Violence Recovery Support service was a recovery peer work model informed by findings from the Royal Commission into Family Violence that survivors needed longer-term recovery support after leaving family violence situations. The iHeal model was developed and trialled for people from diverse communities, namely Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer (LGBTIQ) communities, CALD communities, and people living with a disability. People from these diverse communities who had a lived experience of family violence were recruited and employed as Recovery Support Workers (RSWs). They provide case work and advocacy to other survivors to provide support around the things that survivors identified as barriers to recovery. These include help navigating complex systems such as court, child protection, mental health, housing, alcohol and other drugs (AOD) services, education and employment and assistance with a range of other diverse needs.