ENVIRONMENT SCAN – KEY FINDINGS
There are a number of national data collections that contain information about family, domestic and sexual violence, some survey based and others, administrative data. For the latter, administrative information is collected in each state and territory, which then contributes to larger collections that are reported nationally. The environment scan identified a number of key national surveys which have the potential to be augmented to include family, domestic and sexual violence information. These include the following:
The lack of connectivity between organisations has a number of implications as highlighted by the key findings identified through the environmental scan:
- there is no consistent data definition or identification method for family, domestic and sexual violence;
- from a data perspective, there are a number of entry points, therefore increasing the likelihood that a person may be counted more than once for the same event;
- a large number of organisations are involved in providing services and collecting information about those that have experienced family, domestic and sexual violence;
- information is collected differently across organisations, and sometimes within organisations;
- IT systems and infrastructure used between organisations differ;
- while some standards and classifications are used, these are often disparate and organisation specific; and
- key organisations collate and report on service provision, however, not from a family, domestic and sexual violence perspective.
A number of initiatives identified as part of the environment scan are working to overcome these complexities. These include:
- An example of states and territories working together was the Australian Domestic and Family Violence Death Review (ADFVDR) Network project.6 This network was established in 2011 following a review of family, domestic and sexual violence related deaths in Australia. Representatives of the ADFVDR Network include the Domestic Violence Death Review Team (New South Wales), Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Unit (Queensland), Domestic and Family Violence Death Review (South Australia) and Victorian Systemic Review of Family Violence Deaths (Victoria). The ADFVDR is an example of agencies working across state and territory boundaries to improve knowledge and identify the context and circumstances in which domestic and family violence deaths occur (Coroners Court of Victoria, 2012).
- There are also examples of local agencies working together to share information and IT infrastructure to improve and co-ordinate their response (Appendix 4). For example, Tasmania’s ‘Safe at Home’ program includes the Victim Safety Response Team, Police Prosecutions, Family Violence Counselling and Support Service, Court Support and Liaison Service, Child Protection and Special Needs Liaison Service. These local agencies meet weekly to ensure coordinated case management. They also use the Integrated Case Coordination Management System (ICCMS) database to link data from the Police Family Violence Management System (FVMS) with data from the Department of Justice databases (Department of Justice Tasmania, 2009).
- Risk assessments are another initiative used in some states and territories to support integrated approaches to family and domestic violence. Risk assessments can enable uniform screening and subsequent identification of family and domestic violence and facilitate the management of risk through integrated case management.7 This understanding of risk assessment incorporates a screening process and while this is a feature of the examples found in the Australian context this is not necessarily a feature of all tools.8 There are a number of screening and assessment tools available and often the choice of tool is informed by a broader framework (Robinson and Moloney, 2010), such as the Family Safety Framework used in South Australia. In some states (e.g. Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania), risk assessments are used by multiple agencies that incorporate screening and risk management (Appendix 5). These tools are not standardised or comparable between jurisdictions and consequently there is currently no standard national tool for assessing or screening family and domestic violence events.
- A number of NGOs across Queensland are providing domestic and family violence service information to a central database managed by the Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research (CDFVR).9 This information is collated and released publicly (in accordance with data privacy and confidentiality considerations) to provide a profile of clients and their support needs. There are some limitations with this information; data are collected over a two week period twice a year and data provision by organisations is optional. However, this initiative demonstrates that collection of information that informs purposes other than service provision, allocation or budgets, funding applications or tracking performance is possible. To expand this model to a national scale will require significant effort, commitment and buy-in at all levels, including NGOs and the wider community.
The difficulty of identifying family, domestic and sexual events in existing datasets and an absence of co-ordinated data collection at the sector, state and territory or national level are key challenges in creating nationally consistent data.
6 For more information about the Australian Domestic and Family Violence Death Review see http://www.coronerscourt.vic.gov.au/resources/54bbc2f9-bb23-45c0-9672-16c6bd1a0e0f/vsrfvd+first+report+-+final+version.pdf
7 For a more detailed discussion of the assessment of risk assessments refer to http://www.safeathome.tas.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/142310/RAST_Report_Analysis_of_Risk_Assessment_Screening_Tool.pdf
8 For a detailed discussion of the differences between screening and risk assessment refer to Robinson, E and Moloney, L 2010, Family violence: Towards a holistic approach to screening and risk assessment in family support services, Australian Family Relationships Clearinghouse, Melbourne.
9 For more information about the Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research refer to http://www.noviolence.com.au/
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