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Designing for Diversity and Intersectionality

All people deserve to be safe and secure in their homes and to be adequately supported if they experience violence.

The Royal Commission told us that we need to do more to help people from diverse communities who experience family violence or who are at risk of family violence.

The Commission called on us to make services more accessible, inclusive and non-discriminatory; to better understand how family violence is experienced in diverse communities; and to support those communities with the education and support they need to stop family violence before it starts.

Victoria is defined by its diversity: together, the many different communities named in the Royal Commission’s report make up the majority of Victoria’s population. That means when we respond to the needs of diverse communities, we respond to the needs of all Victorians.

The Royal Commission’s report named the following groups:

  • Aboriginal communities (please refer to our Supporting Aboriginal Victorians page on the website for more information on how we’re working in partnership with Aboriginal communities to support those experiencing family violence)
  • culturally and linguistically diverse communities
  • faith communities
  • lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse and intersex (LGBTI) communities
  • people with a disability
  • people experiencing mental illness issues
  • older people
  • women in or exiting prison or forensic institutions
  • people working in the sex industry
  • rural, regional and remote communities
  • male victims

For more information please refer to Volume V (PDF, 2,776 KB) of the Royal Commission into Family Violence report.

Identity and intersectionality

We recognise that no aspect of a person’s identity is experienced in isolation. Identity is complex; it is a product of overlapping influences and dispositions and ingrained through lived experiences.

Aspects of a person’s identity can be determined by a range of things including, but obviously not limited to, religion, ethnicity, gender, sex, sexual orientation, culture, language and communication requirements, socio-economic status, disability, age, geographic location or visa status.

In too many cases, different parts of a person’s identity can mean they are exposed to overlapping, intersecting forms of discrimination and stigma within our society. This is why we use the term ‘intersectionality’.

A person’s identity will affect the way they experience family violence and determine what kind of support they require to stay safe and recover from it. It also changes what we need to do to prevent violence happening in the first place.

A person who is discriminated against because of harmful attitudes towards parts of their identity (for example, due to racism or homophobia) can be at greater risk of experiencing family violence. The power imbalance that such discrimination creates also acts as a barrier to reporting violence and seeking help.

Read about the diversity and intersectionality framework.

Supporting diverse communities

Victorian law recognises that organisations and service providers have a ‘positive duty’ to identify and eliminate discrimination and to promote equality.[1]

The Victorian Government is committed to removing the barriers that often prevent people from reporting family violence and finding help. We will make our family violence services more accessible, flexible and targeted to a diverse range of needs.

How we’ll do it

  1. Engaging with experts
  2. Diversity and Intersectionality Framework
  3. Universal and targeted responses for diverse communities
  4. Tailored prevention initiatives for diverse communities
  5. Working across the system to achieve change for diverse communities
  6. Guidance for more inclusive service delivery
  7. Investing in important initiatives

1. Engaging with experts

The Royal Commission highlighted the need for us to centre the voices of victim survivors and work collaboratively with the community and the family violence sector in delivering our reforms. To achieve this we have brought together victim survivors and community experts from diverse backgrounds through a number of engagement and governance bodies, to provide valuable input into key reforms. These include:

Membership of these groups also include members of the Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council.

2. Diversity and Intersectionality Framework

We have worked with some of these community experts to create the Diversity and Intersectionality Framework, which will help to ensure diverse communities are at the centre of family violence reform.

Developed through the collaborative efforts of the Diverse Communities and Intersectionality Working Group, which sits under the Family Violence Steering Committee, the framework sets out eight principles to keep reforms targeted and sensitive to Victorians who commonly experience marginalisation and discrimination.

The Framework is a tool for Government, service providers and organisations to improve understanding of how diversity and intersectionality can impact a person’s experience of family violence; and identifying ways they can make their policies, services and supports, including prevention activities, more accessible and inclusive.

The principles outlined in the Framework will make sure service delivery is:

  • Accessible
  • Grounded in respect and a regard for human rights
  • Inclusive and non-discriminatory
  • Empowering
  • Responsive
  • Built on community and cross-sector partnerships
  • Focussed on prevention
  • Responsive to experiences through robust evaluation

Read more about these principles

3. Universal and targeted responses for diverse communities

Our goal is a service system where ‘no door is the wrong door’.

The Victorian Government is committed to offering the right mix of targeted and universal services so that people from diverse communities who experience family violence will always receive the support they need.

People from diverse communities deserve to feel welcome and respected wherever they seek help. This means that universal services must be accessible, inclusive and responsive at every level.

Every person who accesses family violence services will have different needs and experiences. Some will require additional support to be able to fully access the services that are available. For example, some people will need assistance communicating, for instance through the translation of written material, or from an English language or AUSLAN interpreter, or through the provision of information in ways other than writing.

Targeted services that can meet the specific needs of different communities are also essential. They are especially important for historically marginalised groups who are often excluded from the broader network of social services, or even actively discriminated against.

Both targeted and universal services are capable of fostering specialised expertise and can build on the trust they already enjoy in their communities to encourage all victims and survivors to report family violence and seek help.

4. Tailored prevention initiatives for diverse communities

The ‘primary prevention’ of family violence means stopping violence from occurring in the first place. To do this, we have to identify those social conditions that drive violence.

These conditions often reflect the underlying inequalities in social or economic power among different groups of people. We know that gender inequality drives a large part of family violence and that women and their children are the main victims and the main perpetrators of violence are men.

Other forms of inequality also drive family violence, including discrimination based on race, ethnicity, ageism, discrimination towards people with a disability, or towards people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans (and gender diverse) or who have an intersex variation (LGBTI). We also know there are particular drivers of violence for Aboriginal Victorians, including historical and contemporary experiences of systemic discrimination and deeply rooted structural inequalities.

'Free from violence: Victoria’s strategy to prevent family violence and all forms of violence against women' (the Strategy) aims to ensure that every Victorian is aware of the drivers of violence and what needs to be done to address them, as well as their individual responsibility to prevent it. For example, the strategy highlights the role of gender inequality and discrimination, and inequality more broadly, as well as the need to challenge those occurrences in everyday life.

The Strategy recognises that groups and communities subject to multiple forms of disadvantage and discrimination are disproportionately affected by family violence. Such groups, especially those who experience multiple forms of disadvantage and discrimination, will benefit from more targeted and intensive prevention efforts and greater resources.

For Aboriginal people, addressing the drivers of violence means working with organisations controlled by Aboriginal communities and embedding Aboriginal self-determination at every institutional level. This will build on the leading work Aboriginal communities have developed in the prevention of family violence.

We have begun this work by investing a total $3.85 million in the Community Partnerships for Primary Prevention. A total of 34 grants have been awarded to support a number of new or existing partnerships between businesses, schools, workplaces and community settings to help drive local community action to prevent family violence and other forms of violence against women.

From that investment, more than $600,000 in grants has been awarded to programs targeting diverse communities, as well as many whole-of-community programs that will reach diverse community groups.

For more information please refer to our Prevention Strategy.

5. Working across the system to achieve change for diverse communities

The Royal Commission noted that the whole of the report and all 227 of its recommendations are relevant to diverse communities. Some of these recommendations call for actions that respond to specific communities.

In addition to implementing these specific recommendations, we will ensure that all of our reforms improve the help we offer the most marginalised in our community.

We’ve begun our efforts to help diverse communities by implementing recommendations across government and the family violence service system. Our progress on diversity-specific recommendations is described in the Recommendations section of this website:

  • All diverse communities (139 – 143)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (144 – 152)
  • Older people (153 – 155)
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse communities (156 – 162)
  • Faith communities (163 – 165)
  • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse and intersex communities (166 – 169)
  • People with disabilities (170 – 179)
  • Male victims (180 – 181)
  • Rural, regional and remote communities (182)
  • Women in prison (183 – 185)
  • People working in the sex industry (186)

6. Guidance for more inclusive service delivery

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC) recently released an important document, 'Guideline: Family violence services and accommodation > Complying with the Equal Opportunity Act 2010'.

The guideline is for organisations that provide services and accommodation to people experiencing family violence. It outlines their legal obligations in providing non-discriminatory services and offers practical guidance for providers on how to prevent discrimination from occurring in the first place.[2]

The guideline delivers on Royal Commission recommendation 141. In developing the guideline the VEOHRC consulted with 55 stakeholder organisations who work with a diverse range of clients, including the Diverse Communities and Intersectionality Working Group and the LGBTI Taskforce Working Groups on Justice and Family Violence.

The guideline can be found here.

7. Investing in important initiatives

The record $1.9 billion ear marked in the 2017/18 budget for family violence reform includes funding for a number of important initiatives to improve outcomes for diverse communities.

The following are some examples of these initiatives. In each case the investment will be made over four years:

$84 million will be invested in initiatives that prevent and respond to family violence in Aboriginal communities.

An investment of $2 million will deliver Diversity and Intersectionality training to family violence organisations to build knowledge and capacity in providing appropriate services for a diverse range of clients.

$1.48 million will be invested to create a Gender and Disability Workforce Development Program. The program will build the capacity of the disability workforce to prevent and identify violence against women and family violence.

$13.8 million will be invested to prevent and respond to family violence in multicultural and faith communities, including:

  • grants for community-based family violence and gender equality initiatives
  • sustained funding for inTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence
  • support and training for faith leaders and communities to respond to family violence
  • investing in interpreters and translators specialising in family violence

$5.28 million to prevent and respond to family violence in LGBTI communities, including:

  • Supporting family violence services to be more inclusive and responsive to the needs of LGBTI communities experiencing family violence
  • Supporting targeted service delivery including referral, counselling, peer support and perpetrator services
  • Improving legal and other information resources and delivering targeted prevention and community education campaigns.

$1.35 million funding for LGBTI applicant and respondent workers at the Magistrates’ Court to make the legal process easier to navigate for LGBTI victim survivors.

The 2017-18 investment builds on funding provided in 2016-17 . Examples of this investment include:

  • $25.7 million to improve outcomes for Aboriginal communities through the following methods: Prevention, early intervention and diversion programs; Development of a new holistic healing model; Mediator and conflict resolution training for Aboriginal workers; Initiatives to improve outcomes for Aboriginal children impacted by family violence
  • $2.25 million allocated to inTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence to increase its family violence service delivery, including case management and legal support in metro areas and in rural, regional and remote Victoria. The funding will also enable inTouch to undertake broad-reaching policy, research and advocacy work relating to the needs of culturally, linguistically and religiously diverse communities in the areas of family violence prevention and response.
  • An additional $1 million to provide specialist family violence services to culturally diverse women and children that complements the inTouch model.
  • $200,000 to support Seniors Rights Victoria to work with five local communities across metropolitan, regional and rural Victoria to address and prevent elder abuse.
  • St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne received funding to partner with The Bouverie Centre to build in evidence-based approaches in the delivery of effective responses to address suspected elder abuse.
  • $2.5 million to improve outcomes for people from LGBTI communities through, for example, targeted family violence service delivery, referral and counselling; and supporting family violence services to be more inclusive and responsive to the needs of LGBTI communities experiencing_ violence.
  • $200,000 per annum in 2016/17 and 2017/18 to support Women with Disabilities Victoria to provide training to the family violence workforce on responding to and preventing family violence for people with disability.
  • Funding to improve outcomes for people in the sex industry who experience family violence

We will continue to work in partnership with the community, sector and victim survivors to ensure that these initiatives, and all of our reforms, keep the voice of victims from all Victorian communities at the centre and achieve a more accessible and expert service system and a safer community for all Victorians.

[1] 'Equal Opportunity Act 2010' (Vic), s 15.

[2] Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, 2017, 'Guideline: Family violence services and accommodation > Complying with the Equal Opportunity Act, 2010'