Victoria’s 10-year plan to end family violence – technology imperative

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Following the recommendations handed down by the Royal Commission into Family Violence (tabled in Parliament 30 March 2016), the Victorian Premier has released a 10-year plan to end family violence that demonstrates how all the 227 recommendations will be implemented.

Released on 24 November 2016, the 10-year plan to end family violence, titled Ending Family Violence: Victoria’s Plan for Change, is designed to ensure that the current and future governments implement the reforms needed.

Included in the plan to end family violence is funding of over $200m for private rental assistance and social housing, strengthening of intervention orders, tightening up of bail processes, and improved information sharing between police and other agencies so a perpetrator’s right to privacy isn’t placed ahead of a victim’s right to safety.

Other initiatives include the establishment of Support and Safety Hubs across Victoria to assist victims, recruitment of new specialist family violence workers, specialist training to Victoria Police officers, and a state-wide behavioural change program to help stop family violence in the first place.

However, as the Premier outlined in his announcement, carrying out these initiatives will require the government to change the way it operates. Far greater cross-agency collaboration will be required, new skills will be needed, and technology will need to be used much more effectively than it has in the past. To this end, the Premier has announced the creation of a number of new bodies:

  • A coordination agency to oversee the operation of the Support and Safety Hubs,
  • A prevention agency with dedicated funding focused on providing advice on best practice,
  • A Centre for Workforce Excellence to focus on building the strongest possible workforce, and
  • The Victorian Centre for Data Insights to change the way that government collects information and build new capabilities to analyse data to protect families at risk.

While there are no details about the specific operations of the new Victorian Centre for Data Insights, its aim is to have a whole-of-government role in leading the better use of data for decision-making in Victoria (including through conducting data linkage and analytics). It will also support the coordination agency to gain a better understanding about common and complex clients and how best to target and tailor services to support them.

The establishment of a body such as the Victorian Centre for Data Insights was first mooted in the Victorian Government’s ICT Strategy, released in May 2016, which announced that a new data agency would be established to boost data sharing between agencies and develop analytics capabilities to improve policy making and service design.

With its 10-year plan to end family violence, the Victorian Government should be commended for the breadth and depth of its commitment to protecting vulnerable members of our community, and for recognising how ineffective efforts have been in the past.

Significantly, government has also recognised the important role technology needs to play in not just assisting the front-line workers (providing the right information at the right time to the right person), but in enabling new service delivery models and new models of inter-agency collaboration. This is truly transformation in government.

We would urge policy and decision-makers in government and the ICT industry to truly engage with each other to establish and leverage the best practice ICT capability needed to support the 10-year plan to end family violence.

Perhaps there should be a series of forums or roundtables where government and industry can exchange ideas, experience and real-world examples to co-create service design and supporting technology. The issue of family violence is too important for a ‘business as usual’ approach.

 

Also see our post Royal Commission into Family Violence findings flag potential government ICT projects  for our take on the recommendations.

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