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The Royal Commission into Family Violence called for the introduction of mandatory minimum qualifications for specialist family violence response practitioners (Recommendation 209).

The recommendation will strengthen the sector and equip Victoria’s specialist family violence practitioners to provide support and responses that are consistently high quality and culturally appropriate.

Practitioner Qualifications

Recommendation 209, originally determined that a Bachelor of Social Work was the preferred qualification for the sector. They then revised their thinking by determining seven equivalency principles which determine whether a degree is either related or equivalent to a Bachelor of Social Work. The 7 Principles are:

  • Hold a related qualification that is at a Bachelor degree or higher level (Australian Qualifications Framework level 7 or above) to meet the complexity of learning required to demonstrate autonomy, well-developed judgement and responsibility in contexts that require self-directed work and learning, and within broad parameters to provide specialist advice and functions.
  • Understanding of the social, political, legal, historical, cultural and organisational contexts/systems impacts on people and communities; human behaviour and development; and life cycle stages in a family violence context
  • Ability to transmit knowledge and skills to others, and to engage in a respectful, professional and culturally safe manner that builds rapport and trust with victim-survivors to work towards recovery and healing, using a trauma-informed approach that demonstrates belief, respect, and valuing of knowledge, culture and lived experience.
  • Ability to analyse and evaluate information to inform practice approaches.
  • Knowledge of and ability to manage the ethical issues that can arise when working with victim survivors and perpetrators of family violence, including to:
    • Recognise and manage personal values, prejudices, discrimination and bias, and understanding of how they can affect inclusive service provision; and
    • Apply critical and reflective thinking to practice, to examine the power dynamics between client-practitioner and victim survivor-perpetrator.
  • Ability to apply principles of self-determination and cultural safety in professional practice, informed by an understanding of Aboriginal culture and the injustices experienced by Aboriginal people due to colonisation, and the impact this has on service experience
  • Ability to analyse and apply critical aspects of the regulatory environment and service system to practice, including accurate record keeping, data management and information sharing obligations, in consideration of confidentiality, informed consent and accountability. This includes:
    • Compliant provision of family violence work in accordance with legislation and industry frameworks (for example the Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management (MARAM) Framework);
    • Compliant provision of family violence work in accordance with International Charters of Human Rights, Indigenous Rights and Children’s Rights and Victims’ Charter Act;
    • Providing a coordinated response and advocating with, or on behalf of, victim survivors to secure their rights and access to resources; and
    • Evidence-based domestic and international research and ability to apply it to practice.

Relevant Qualifications meet 4 of the Equivalency Principles. This pathway is only available until July 2026

Equivalent Qualifications meet all 7 of the Equivalency Principles. This pathway is a permanent pathway into the sector.

Existing Workforce

For those employed in the sector before July 1st 2021, they are exempt from Recommendation 209. This exemption allows practitioners to change jobs and to take up to a four year break.

Cultural knowledge or lived experience

Achieving the mandatory minimum qualification requirement should not prevent people who bring cultural expertise or lived experience from entering the sector, particularly people who have faced barriers to education.

New practitioners who bring significant cultural knowledge or lived experience (for example: Aboriginal people, people with disability, migrant or refugee experience, lived experience of family violence) will have 10 years from the date of their employment as a specialist family violence practitioner to work towards a minimum or equivalent qualification, subject to agreement with their employer.

This will be an ongoing option, reflecting the crucial role people with significant cultural knowledge or lived experience play in the sector.

Employer Resources

Go to the Victorian Government Page to:

  • Download the Stakeholder toolkit
  • Access qualification mapping
  • Find General information

Rec 209 – Resources

Download the GFVA frequently asked questions guide

Rec 209 FAQ