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Specialist knowledge across sectors – inTouch

Specialist knowledge across sectors – inTouch

A smiling mother with her young teenaged daughter embracing her from behind. In the background there is a complex woven piece of art.

This article features in the December 2018 edition of DVRCV Advocate.

We spoke to Domestic Violence Victoria, Women’s Legal Service Victoria and inTouch about their specialist expertise, why it’s important to embed specialisation in the system and how it could look in future.


Every woman who experiences family violence has a unique experience. The response must also be unique to ensure she has the best possible chance of recovery. It is important to embed specialisation within the system.

All women – all people in the community – are shaped by their environment and the institutions that surround them: family, education, government, health and religion. When a woman is born in a country outside Australia and comes here to live, she brings a set of values, beliefs and understanding of how the world works. From the day she arrives in Australia, she begins to negotiate between two cultures and, depending on the institutions she engages with, she will change and create a unique cultural identity. Negotiating cultural complexity to support this woman requires special skills and knowledge.

inTouch has been working within the specialist family violence sector for 34 years. We have developed a model of care that uses a strength-based practice informed by the culture and language of the client. We have the capacity to identify abuse through an understanding of the culture of the home country and the culture of the diasporic community here in Australia. This knowledge has been gained through a whole-of-organisation approach, and does not sit with one case worker alone.

We also consider Australia’s cultural and legal constructs in relation to immigration and visas. Half of our clients are on some form of temporary visa, so inTouch has developed the specialisation required to work with the particular needs of our clients. We also provide advice, referrals, education and advocacy on the implications of holding a temporary visa and being a victim of family violence to the specialist family violence sector. This specialisation is an important component of the specialist family violence sector. It works to ensure that the offering we, as a sector, make to the Victorian community is comprehensive.

The specialisation of inTouch – as well as the specialisation of other services – is a critical part of the way the whole system needs to operate if it is to be successful. We cannot operate in silos, each agency working in isolation. As the specialist family violence sector grows and strengthens through the reforms resulting from the Royal Commission into Family Violence, the sector must consider how we use each other’s expertise to ensure a comprehensive service system.

I would like to see a growth in co-case management across the system, where all our services develop and adapt to the client’s needs, where a complex response becomes a seamless experience for the woman who is asking us for help.

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This article features in the December 2018 edition of The Advocate. Download article (PDF)