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The Leading Change in Family Violence Symposium in December 2023, organised by Berry Street in collaboration with Safe and Equal, Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA), and the Centre for Excellence in Child & Family Welfare, marks a significant event in the field of family violence prevention and support.

The Symposium demonstrated the commitment of the sector to improving family violence practice through collaboration and innovation. It was attended by 260 professionals from various sectors such as family violence, child and family services, government, and policy.

In his welcome, Berry Street CEO Michael Perusco said:

“As the first Rolling Action Plan comes to an end at the close of 2023, it is a timely opportunity for us to look back as well as forward. The Leading Change in Family Violence Symposium is designed to do both.

As we go about this important work, collaboration and partnerships are key and you will hear that theme strongly throughout the day.”

An announcement from the Minister for Prevention of Family Violence

The Hon. Vicki Ward, Minister for Prevention of Family Violence announced the launch of Strong Foundations at the event, which highlights family violence reform to date, and priority areas for the work that needs to be done moving forward.

Minister Ward emphasised the government's commitment to the five following key areas for family violence reform:

  • drive down family and sexual violence: Working to change attitudes, beliefs and gender stereotypes. It also means changing systems that discriminate and enable violence.
  • focus on children and young people: We know that if children experience violence during childhood, it can have a big effect on their developmental, social and emotional wellbeing.
  • strengthen support for victim survivors: Victim survivors need to have access to a safe home and to vital services including justice, counselling, health care, education and employment.
  • respond to change: Technology is increasingly influencing how Victorians initiate and conduct intimate relationships. It can also support violence in those relationships. A better understanding of these trends needs to be built.
  • demonstrate impact: Reporting on what is working, and why, is vital.

The third and final Rolling Action Plan is set to be released in 2024. This will outline concrete actions and timeframes of the work being done to end family violence in Victoria.

The Minister encouraged participants to contribute their thoughts about how the government can deliver on these priorities, which you can do so on their website.

Intersectional and emerging practice

A key focal point of the day’s dialogue included a panel discussing intersectional practice, facilitated by Tania Farha, CEO of Safe and Equal and with panelists Rasha Abbas, CEO of In Touch; Nadia Mattiazzo, CEO of Women with Disabilities Victoria; and Janet Jukes, Board President of Thorne Harbour Health.

The panel discussed how family violence practice can’t be developed for only one group of people; it requires diverse application for communities with different needs. It should al

ways be considered in the context of the diverse intersectionality of society – including for those from different cultural backgrounds, those from the LGBTQIA+ community and for those living with disability.

y-change coordinator kirra

Y-Change Youth Engagement Coordinator Kirra

Amplifying the voice of lived experience

The symposium concluded with a session facilitated by Kirra Horley, Youth Engagement Coordinator with Berry Street’s Y-Change initiative.

Y-Change is a social and systemic change platform for young people aged 18 to 30 with lived experiences of socioeconomic disadvantage. As Lived Experience Consultants, the team work to challenge the thinking and practices of social systems through advocacy and leadership.

At the Symposium, Y-Change Lived Experience Consultants shared their unique perspectives on the family violence system. They provided attendees with valuable information about specific interactions with service staff and shared helpful ideas for how reforms can be made to improve the experience of children and young people experiencing family violence.

The lived experience panelists were exceptional! They were so articulate, knowledgeable, engaging and inspiring. This was by far the highlight of the symposium for me. I have sincere gratitude for their generosity and courage in sharing their stories - and to the Berry Street team who have supported their development through the Y-Change program.

Symposium attendee

As we look forward to the 2024 event, the family violence sector is clearly united in its mission to lead change and create a brighter future for all Victorians.

If you would be interested in attending a similar event in 2024, please let us know by emailing