Taking the Victorian experience to the world

Monash Health Mental Health Social Worker, Claire Jones, will be taking the story of the Victorian experience of sharing family violence information to an international audience, when she attends the 3rd European Conference on Domestic Violence in Oslo, Norway next week.

Claire and her collaborator, Lisa Hooper (pictured), a Drug and Alcohol clinician with TaskForce Community Agency, will be presenting on ‘Family Violence Reforms in Australia’, outlining the practical impacts of recent law changes implemented by the government in response to community concerns about family violence.

Information sharing between agencies is really helping keep women and children safe and to keep perpetrators in view at all times,” Claire said.

“The Royal Commission (into family violence) found all these large, powerful agencies had a lot of data but weren’t sharing it.

“By exchanging and allowing greater transparency, we can help victims not to have to retell their story over and over again. Within a hospital setting, getting information from other agencies, such as Victoria Police, helps with risk assessments and discharge planning. It is our best attempt to try and improve things for people experiencing family violence.”

Claire says the impact of the information sharing provisions, under the Victorian Government’s Multi Agency Risk Assessment and Management (MARAM) framework, also helps with supporting and managing perpetrators.

“If we want to make inroads and change behaviour we need to understand why there are so many men who are violent.

“As social workers, it also helps us suggest interventions and options if we are managing the perpetrators. In mental health we see more and more perpetrators of family violence and we want to get in before the intervention is forced by the courts.

“Knowing about the perpetrator helps us with safety planning for those experiencing family violence too,” Claire said.

“It’s a real honour to be asked to present at this conference and we will be concentrating on the practical impacts of information sharing on health services within a large health network.”

Claire says for the information sharing provisions to achieve their full benefit, there is a cultural shift required too.

“We need to teach the whole service system that it’s ok to share. The Police are doing this really well. There is a lot of good will and we are protected by the legislation. It requires a change in thinking about the scope of our role.”

Part of Claire’s work with the Mental Health Family Violence Team is to train and empower Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol staff at Monash: “Our priority is to encourage people to be part of this change process; to understand what we exchange and what we don’t and why.”

The South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault (SECASA), and Monash Health Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol staff are already prescribed agencies operating under the information sharing provisions, with the rest of the health system to come online from 2020.

Claire and Lisa will be in Oslo from 1-4 September, also gathering information on world’s best practice in domestic and family violence responses.

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