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Victim Survivors' Advisory Council

For the first time in Victoria, people with lived experience of family violence have a formal influencing role in how the family violence reforms are developed and implemented, through the Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council (VSAC).

Chaired by the 2015 Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, VSAC brings the strength, resilience and lived experience of victims into our reforms.

These short documentary-style videos tell the personal stories of VSAC members  Rosie Batty and  Layla Alwan.

The videos highlight the work of VSAC and the critical role lived experience has in informing and delivering real change, by providing a deep and personal insight into the different forms and contexts of family violence.


Layla Alwan is the member representing culturally and linguistically diverse communities on VSAC. Born in Iraq and a proud mother and grandmother, Layla now lives in Melbourne and works with women and children from all backgrounds to help them understand family violence in culturally specific contexts. She supports people to get help and to connect with services around Melbourne. This is her story.


Rosie Batty was named Australian of the Year in 2015, was ranked 33 in the World’s Greatest Leaders 2016 list by Fortune magazine, and was named one of the most influential people in the Australian social sector. Ever since the death of her son Luke in 2014, Rosie has been speaking passionately about the need to address Australia’s family violence epidemic.

Her advocacy work has led to an unprecedented national focus on family violence. Rosie has been the Chair of Victim Survivors' Advisory Council since its formation in July 2016. This is her story.


Message from the Victim Survivors' Advisory Council

The Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council includes representatives from a variety of age groups, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds who share the traumatic lived experience of family violence.

As victims of family violence we have been betrayed of our personal power, our voices and our safety. The Royal Commission into Family Violence recognises that there is great power in the lived experience of victims and survivors and that sharing our stories is important.

Our voices are now at the heart of the reform agenda. Silencing victims protects the perpetrator, condones their behaviour and robs victims and survivors of their dignity. This is the time to hear our voices and break the silence.

The Victorian Government has recognised that by working together we can create systems that support people who are affected by family violence.

We know what it’s like to be ignored. We know what it’s like to experience system shortcomings. We know what it’s like to be victim blamed.

Yet the painful reality of the family violence which we have endured is that it can happen to anyone, regardless of their cultural, ethnic and socio-economic background. We know this. We feel this.

It is everybody’s business to break the silence and meet victim survivors with compassion and empathy.


At the Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council, we are leading the way. Our most vulnerable days are behind us and we are driving cultural change. Some voices have been permanently silenced. To those who have died through family violence, our community apologises for failing you. We do this work in your honour.

We represent all ages, genders and demographics, from children and adolescents, the Aboriginal community, to culturally and ethnically diverse communities, people with a disability, LGBTI communities, and elders.

Our drive, passion and voices are jointly dedicated to contributing as a powerful group to ending family violence.

Historically, victims of family violence have been failed by systemic shortcomings and cultural attitudes that have enabled our plight and caused us to suffer silently.

That stops now. Our voices represent all of us—those impacted by family violence, and those for whom the system must improve to keep us safe.

We are the Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council and we are here to make a difference. The Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council brings the strength, resilience and lived experiences of victim survivors to our reforms.

Role of the Victim Survivors' Advisory Council

The Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council:

  • Contributes meaningfully to family violence reform by involving its members – service users and people with lived experience – in the family violence reform program
  • Provides an ongoing voice for people who have experienced family violence in the design of services
  • Places people with lived experience at the centre of family violence reform and service design
  • Advises how family violence reform initiatives will impact on people who use services
  • Considers and provides advice on specific issues requested by the Family Violence Committee of Cabinet and/or the Family Violence Steering Committee
  • Ensures advice to the government reflects the diversity of the family violence experience
  • Ensures the government’s response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence meets the expectations of people with lived experience and the community.

Contact us

For more information, email vsac@familysafety.vic.gov.au