“I’m at a crossroads”: Supporting families through the family law system with the family safety navigation model

Family law and post separation
Wednesday 25 July, 1400 – 1420


Marie Yorston
Relationships Australia Victoria

“I’m at a crossroads, trying to make a decision about my marriage” — family violence survivor.
For many couples, family violence compounds the grief and uncertainty experienced around the time of separation. Historically, responses to family violence have been separated between men’s and women’s services. The Royal Commission into Family Violence (2016) recommended that a more integrated, coordinated family violence service system may improve the safety of women and children.

In 2016, Relationships Australia Victoria began piloting the Family Safety Navigation Model at two Family Relationship Centres, to support family violence-affected clients attending mediation. In this whole of family approach, parties assessed as experiencing family violence are linked in with a family safety practitioner who provides all family members — men, women and children — with case-managed support, continual risk assessment and referral. The Safety Practitioner resources families to access programs for women and child survivors, Men’s Behaviour Change programs, as well as external supports. This provides a systemic, joined-up service that supports families beyond mediation, as they move through the family law system.

This paper will examine the 2018 evaluation of the Family Safety Navigation Model. Early indications show a strong demand for this project. We will explore results concerning safer outcomes for women and children, and improved wellbeing for families engaged with the Family Law System. We hope that this enhanced model of Family Law Service will support all family members to move through the crossroads of separation with increased resources, safety and agency.