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The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing, along with Family Safety Victoria have released resources to assist with the supervision of the family violence workforce.

Supervision is central to developing and sustaining family violence, sexual assault and child wellbeing workforces.

It allows the exploration of:

  • roles and responsibilities of sector practitioners, including risk assessment, therapeutic support, engagement, safety planning and collaborative multi-agency responses to family violence
  • roles and responsibilities of supervisors
  • adult, child and young person victim survivors’ experience and narrative and how to work in a nuanced way with young people who can be both victim survivors and use family violence
  • respecting victim survivors as experts of their own lives and valuing their assessments of their own safety and needs
  • how to practice safe, non-collusive communication with perpetrators
  • inviting personal accountability for perpetrators’ use of family violence and sexual violence, and their related failure to protect children by using violence
  • both perceived and real risks to supervisee’s safety, including fears practitioners have working directly with perpetrators or providing afterhours outreach services1
  • applying an intersectional lens and understanding supervisee/supervisor biases, including how people from First Nations, LGBTIQA+, culturally diverse communities or at-risk age groups may experience barriers, discrimination and inequality
  • providing practitioners with lived experience of family violence and sexual assault with practice support and encouragement to practise self-care
  • providing First Nations practitioners with support to carry the cultural load
  • how to embed cultural safety, in line with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural safety framework2
  • providing First Nations practitioners with support to carry the cultural load
  • how a supervisee’s family of origin3 or creation may affect their client assessments and interactions
  • how to be more strengths-based and collaborative with clients, colleagues and other professionals
  • individual practitioner and organisational power, and structural and systemic privilege and oppressions across the sector4
  • the multi-faceted nature of supervision, including reflection, case discussions, support, professional development, clinical and managerial functions.

The sector has a highly skilled, dedicated, and resilient workforce, who, for decades, have embraced the importance of supervision and reflective practice (active process of witnessing an experience, examining it, and learning from it). The prevalence and severity of family violence have escalated. This, combined with the prescribed responsibilities under the Family Violence Multi Agency Risk Assessment and Management (MARAM) Framework, including a greater focus on collaborative practice and intersectionality, means providing effective supervision has never been more crucial.

Written in collaboration with the sector, the following information can be used ahead of the full Best-practice supervision guidelines (the guidelines), to be published online in 2023. The guidelines are a commitment of the 10-year industry plan and the First rolling action plan.

The information does not set out to change what is already working within the sector, but will:

  • provide an opportunity for programs and organisations to review their supervision policies and practices and consider sector thinking and what other programs have found useful
  • apply to family violence, sexual assault and child wellbeing sectors, acknowledging that these workforces have different skill sets and role requirements
  • set the foundation for achieving more uniform, standard definitions, models, principles and practices of supervision across the state
  • explore complex concepts and theories in terms of how they relate to supervision and provide further reading if the sector wants to delve deeper
  • contribute to the commitment Government made in the Dhelk Dja Partnership Agreement of ensuring self-determined, strengths-based, trauma-informed, and culturally safe practices are built into policies and practice, and the broader family violence service system and its workforce
  • signal to potential graduates and career changers entering the family violence and sexual assault workforces that their learning, support and wellbeing needs will be taken seriously
  • support a culture of learning and professional growth
  • invigorate conversations about best practice and some of the tensions and challenges inherent in providing regular and effective supervision.

There is information on:

Family Safety Victoria has released three factsheets to assist with providing supervision to the workforce:

Workforce Health, Safety and Wellbeing

Organisational health, safety and wellbeing initiatives help to foster healthier, safer and more sustainable workplaces. The World Health Organisation defines a safe and well workplace as being ‘one where workers and managers work collaboratively to use a continual improvement process to protect and promote the health, safety and well being of all workers and the sustainability of the workplace’. In its simplest form, wellbeing is the ability to thrive, to feel good and effectively function physically, mentally, and socially while navigating the highs and lows that everyone experiences at work and in life. Every organisation has a duty under the Victorian Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) Act 2004 to have policies and practices in place to keep the workforces safe, reduce risk and prevent injury.

This online guide supports the health, safety and wellbeing of the family violence, sexual assault, and prevention workforces. Having a collective health, safety and wellbeing focus enables workers to take a person-centered approach that keeps victim survivors safe and supports perpetrator accountability. It also allows organisations to support staff retention, reduce absenteeism, boost engagement and address the risks of mental or psychological injury.

In the context of family violence, sexual assault, and prevention services, best practice organisational health, safety and wellbeing approaches include access to regular supervision, communities of practice, Employee Assistance Programs or other external support and collective advocacy.

The Government acknowledges the strength, professionalism and commitment of the family violence, sexual assault and prevention workforces. They are highly motivated to use their skills and expertise to advocate for systemic change towards a more inclusive, safe and equitable society. Supporting the wellbeing of your workforce ensures that the sector can continue to do this essential work.

Due to this acknowledgement, Family Safety Victoria has released this Guide to assist agencies to support practitioners across the sector.

Leading for Wellbeing Seminar Series

In 2023, the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) delivered a series of free 90-minute ‘Leading for wellbeing’ seminars for family violence, primary prevention and sexual assault managers, team leaders, coordinators, Human Resource staff, emerging sector leaders and interested practitioners and workers.

Facilitated by the world-renowned Health, Safety and Wellbeing expert, Dr. Michelle McQuaid, the series responds to workplace wellbeing queries and shares real-life success stories and challenges.

You can access this Seminar Series through this website