The Safer Pathway Program is soon to expand to Bankstown, Broken Hill, Parramatta and Tweed Heads providing more coordinated assistance to victims of domestic and family violence.
Safer Pathway was launched in two locations in September last year, at Orange in the state's central west and Waverley in the Sydney's eastern suburbs, as part of the NSW Government's 'It Stops Here' domestic and family violence reforms. The Program better identifies the level of threat to victims, tailors response to specific need and ensures a coordinated multi-agency effort so no one gets lost in the system.
Since its opening, Orange Local Coordination Point has received 932 referrals, Waverley Local Coordination Point has received 1,384 and Victims Services NSW received 966 referrals for male victims across both sites.
Safer Pathway provides better support by 'wrapping services around' victims of domestic violence with streamlined referral, standardised threat assessment, case coordination and Safety Action Meetings. It addresses the high levels of underreporting of domestic violence by providing a consistent and proactive response when a victim does reach out or come into contact with service providers.
Under the Program, when a police officer attends a domestic violence incident or comes into contact with a person who may be a victim of domestic violence, a common Domestic Violence Safety Assessment Tool is used to identify the level of threat. A person found to be at threat or at serious threat, will be immediately referred to the Central Referral Point that electronically manages and monitors referrals, and then on to a Local Coordination Point.
The Local Coordination Point will contact the victim within 24 business hours of receiving the referral and offer case coordination to victims and referrals to local domestic violence specialist and other services. These Local Coordination Points are hosted by the Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services for female victims, and by Victims Services NSW is currently providing a response for male victims.
Victims who are identified to be at serious threat will additionally have their cases referred to Safety Action Meetings to ensure coordinatedaction to improve their safety. Meetings are held fortnightly and attended by a wide range of government and non-government health, welfare, justice and other service providers, who develop and implement individually tailored Safety Action Plans to prevent or reduce the serious threat to victims.
Legal Aid NSW, NSW Police Force and Victims Services NSW have been delivering Safer Pathway Information Sessions in the new locations during May, with more formalised training on Safety Action Meetings and Information Sharing soon to be delivered. Feedback from local services has been positive, with the majority of providers looking forward to working with the new processes from July.