As we reach the end of an eventful year, the Family Safety Hub is marking an important milestone—six months since the official launch in late May. Thank you for being involved and helping to get the Hub up and running.
Creating anything from scratch is a steep learning curve, especially something that hasn’t been done before. This is totally new way of working—not just for Canberra but for Australia. We’re genuine about working with the community to change traditional responses to family and domestic violence. This means letting go of preconceived ideas, listening to what you’re saying, and being willing to try out new approaches. It also means recognising that we won’t always get it right, and constantly seeking your feedback to keep improving what we do.
In the past six months, we’ve established new processes and systems and started building a small team. At the same time we’ve been learning how to run our co-design Challenge approach to work with you to solve some of the toughest problems contributing to domestic and family violence.
By testing your best ideas, we’ll learn how they might work, what would be involved in running proposed new services, and whether they can scale-up to create lasting change.
Partnerships are at the centre of everything we do. Here’s what has been achieved so far thanks to our partnerships and your dedicating your time and insight.
Coordinator-General for Family Safety, ACT Government
The first Challenge—early intervention for pregnant women and new parents
Our first Challenge, which began in May, is early intervention and prevention for pregnant women and new parents experiencing or at risk of domestic and family violence.
We know from earlier co-design and research that:
- women face a significant risk of experiencing violence from their partners during their pregnancy and after the baby is born
- one in five women whose partner uses violence experiences that violence during pregnancy—and, of these women, one in four experiences violence for the first time during pregnancy
- the current domestic and family violence system is focused on crisis response
- we need to make sure families at risk of experiencing violence are supported earlier to help prevent violence from happening or escalating.
More than 40 people participated in the first Challenge workshop, from across health, government, community services, legal, housing, child services, and specialist and legal services. Together, we generated more than 50 ideas, with four selected for further development or research:
- access to legal information
- reducing stigma for seeking help
- involving fathers
- addressing reproductive coercion.
The first ‘test, try and learn’ pilot—easier access to legal information
The first Challenge led to the first pilot to test, try and learn more about an idea. We’ve partnered with a great core team to co-design the idea of providing access to legal information in locations where parents go for health or family appointments, and may already have established relationships.
This is important because we know that:
- people often don’t know their legal rights or obligations and may want to understand their options before taking action
- some people may not want to talk with a lawyer about their situation, including those unsure if they are experiencing violence or those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, because they fear a police response or mandatory reporting—they may not realise conversations with lawyers are confidential
- it may be easier for women with lived experience of violence to seek help in locations like maternity wards or Child and Family Centres, especially if their partner restricts their movements and interactions
- we can provide the best possible care when health and legal professionals responding to people experiencing domestic and family violence can regularly interact and can share their insights and perspectives.
We tested the idea of providing access to legal information over three months with more than 55 health, community and legal professionals to see how it could work.
The pilot service is providing access to free legal information in Calvary Public Hospital and Centenary Hospital for Women and Children, as well as the Gungahlin Child and Family Centre.
We know people tend to seek help from trusted professionals so it’s important that health professionals can not only explain what services are available but also reassure people about confidentiality.
We’ll keep track of the pilot to learn how useful the service is, how well it’s working, and how we might refine it as we go. Depending on the outcomes at the end of the pilot in June next year, we’ll work to either end the service (if it’s not having a positive impact), extended it, or scale it up and embed across the system.
Assessing impact and learning as we go
We know great ideas are only part of the work we need to do. Understanding what impact we are having is critical to answering the question ‘is the Family safety Hub making a difference’?
We have started work on an Impact Statement—a framework for evaluating the Family Safety Hub through the lens of ‘test, try, learn’. We will have more to share on this in 2019.
We also know that people involved in the first Challenge took ideas away with them. They have since explored how they can incorporate these ideas into their daily work. We think this is what the Hub is truly about—coming together to create great ideas which are owned by no one and can be delivered by anyone.
In the new year we will shift our focus to the other three ideas selected from the first Challenge.
We will start to share more frequently details of what we are working on and what we are discovering.
We’re also planning more Challenges, including looking at how we can avoid crisis situations by improving access to financial support and housing.
Meet the Hub team
During the past six months we’ve been working behind the scenes as well, to establish a small Family Safety Hub team.
Coordinator-General for Family Safety, Jo Wood
Jo oversees the Hub as part of her role leading the whole-of-government effort to improve the ACT’s response to family and domestic violence.
‘The ACT Government is investing and taking steps to address family safety, and I want to build on that commitment to the community…Together, I hope we can provide the right services for Canberrans to meet their needs and identify the very earliest of warning signs to prevent family violence from occurring wherever possible.’
Family Safety Hub Lead, Steven Portelli
Steven oversees the Hub team and its program of work, as well as day-to-day operations.
‘I’m so pleased to lead this unique initiative. Every day I’m energised by the opportunity to work with our amazing partners to discover and innovate to make a lasting difference in domestic and family violence services in the ACT.’
We will welcome three new Hub team members early in the new year, ready for a big 2019. We look forward to introducing them soon.
Get in touch, stay involved
The problems and insights highlighted through the Hub will present us with a roadmap for whole-of-system change.
The change we’re seeking requires everyone to play a part including government, the community sector, the private sector and the whole community. We welcome your input.
Keep in touch with the latest developments: https://www.communityservices.act.gov.au/safer-families/family-safety-hub/what-is-happening-now
Have a wonderful and safe festive season.