- New South Wales
Fourth Action Plan actions
- Improve support and service system responses
- 17 Collaborate across services, sectors and workforces to ensure responses to women affected by domestic, family and sexual violence are coordinated, meet women’s needs, avoid women having to retell their story and promote their recovery.
- 19 Build the evidence base to inform responses to domestic, family and sexual violence by strengthening the focus on what works to reduce violence, improving data and supporting the Fourth Action Plan priorities.
What are we doing?
Safer Pathway aims to ensure that all victim–survivors of domestic and family violence in NSW receive a timely, effective and consistent response to secure their safety, tailored to the level of threat to their safety and their needs.
Safer Pathway comprises:
- the Domestic Violence Safety Assessment Tool (DVSAT), a risk assessment tool used to identify the level of threat to domestic and family violence victim–survivors;
- the Central Referral Point (CRP) to electronically manage and monitor referrals from NSW Police Force to a state-wide network of local service providers to provide case coordination and support for female victim-survivors or male victim-survivors;
- Safety Action Meetings (SAMs) for victim–survivors classified as at serious threat of death, disability or injury as a result of domestic and family violence. Government agencies and service providers develop coordinated safety action plans that involve, for example, temporary accommodation, apprehended domestic violence orders, mental health services, case management and other support; and,
- information sharing legislation that allows service providers to share information, so that victim–survivors do not have to retell their story multiple times and to promote an integrated response.
What have we achieved so far?
In 2016 the NSW Government allocated $53 million over four years for the state-wide roll-out of Safer Pathway, and the program was fully implemented across NSW by November 2018.
An independent evaluation of Safer Pathway in 2019 found the program has been implemented largely as intended and is generally meeting its intended objectives. The NSW Government has provided support for all recommendations of the evaluation to strengthen the delivery of Safer Pathway.
Safer Pathway agencies have progressed a number of recommendations made through the Evaluation, including:
- enhancements to the CRP to improve administration of the DVSAT risk assessment, enhanced data collection of safety actions plans for victims assessed at serious threat discussed at safety action meetings,
- completion and evaluation of the Safer Pathway Referral Pilot to expand referral pathways for victims who choose not to report to Police;
- phased development of tailored Safer Pathway online content to improve accessibility and engagement with victims, vulnerable cohorts and service providers
A redesign of the Domestic Violence Safety Assessment Tool (DVSAT), the common risk identification tool used as part of Safer Pathway, is currently underway.
As a result of the pandemic, SAM training was moved online, allowing more people to participate in each session. The online format also allows attendees in regional and remote areas to participate in the training without needing to travel. There are 15 online SAM training sessions organised for 2021.
As part of Safer Pathway, in 2020/21 Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services (WDVCAS) assisted 55,341 women experiencing domestic and family violence across NSW. These women were provided with 330,254 services, including referrals to key supports (e.g. housing, counselling, and legal advice), safety planning and help through the court process.
From 1 July 2020 onwards, each WDVCAS employs a full-time equivalent Aboriginal Focus Worker position. These positions: provide specialist support to Aboriginal women experiencing domestic and family violence; undertake community engagement with Aboriginal communities to build trust in WDVCASs and encourage Aboriginal women to access support; and provide guidance to WDVCASs to ensure that service delivery is culturally safe and effective for Aboriginal women.
What is next?
The NSW Government will continue to progress recommendations made by the evaluation. This includes the development of a monitoring and evaluation framework for Safer Pathway, to ensure ongoing, consistent data collection and monitoring of identified outcomes for a coordinated service system response and increased safety for victim-survivors of domestic and family violence. The DVSAT risk assessment tool is currently being redesigned to incorporate the findings from the evaluation and a 2018 review by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), recommendations from an independent evaluation of Safer Pathway, and evidence on best practice in domestic and family violence risk assessment. Safer Pathway partner agencies are scoping options to embed non-police and self-referrals into Safer Pathway across NSW, this work is guided by the findings of the Referral Expansion Pilot.
What difference will we make?
Safer Pathway aims to ensure that all victim–survivors of domestic and family violence in NSW receive a timely, effective and consistent response to secure their safety and support their recovery, regardless of where they live.
A strengthened DVSAT will serve to ensure that those victims who are most at risk are provided with the level of support and intervention required.