Victim-survivors of family, domestic and sexual violence in Gippsland will be the focus of a national pilot project with $10.6 million targeted at providing recovery care.

Gippsland Primary Health Network (Gippsland PHN) is one of only six Primary Health Networks nationally to receive the Australian Government funding to pilot the ‘Supporting Recovery’ project with the region experiencing some of the highest rates of family, domestic and sexual violence in Victoria.

The government announced last year it would invest $67.2 million over four years from 2022-2023 to pilot a new model of care to improve coordination and access to trauma-informed recovery services for victim-survivors of family, domestic and sexual violence.

Gippsland PHN Acting Chief Executive Officer Angela Jacob said the funding was an endorsement of the critical need to support a local system under increasing pressure and an excellent submission that indicated the need in Gippsland.

“Local case management services remain overwhelmed with long waiting lists due to high rates of family violence, and the workforce continues to experience burnout and turnover,” Mrs Jacob said.

Gippsland PHN has proposed a collaborative approach, partnering with Quantum Support Services, the Gippsland Family Violence Alliance and Gippsland Women’s Health with the pilot program focusing on Latrobe City and Baw Baw Shire. All three organisations wrote letters of support for the Gippsland submission.

Mrs Jacob said there was currently a very high demand for family violence case management services, with limited therapeutic and recovery services available to victim-survivors.

“More investment is needed for family, domestic and sexual violence services across the whole of Gippsland; however, it is proposed the pilot geographical locations for this project are the Latrobe and Baw Baw Local Government Areas,” she said.

“These LGAs are currently experiencing the longest case management waiting lists in Gippsland, in addition to high rates of family, domestic and sexual violence incidents.”

Gippsland PHN Acting Chief Executive, Angela Jacob and Gippsland Family Violence Alliance Principal Strategic Advisor, Kim Page, discussing plans for the new model of care.

The high rates of family violence outlined in the recent Gippsland PHN Health Needs Assessment 2022-2025 indicate that Gippsland is undergoing a domestic violence epidemic, with recurring yearly figures showing a rising trend and an absence of a zero-tolerance approach.

Mrs Jacob said high rates of family, domestic and sexual violence incidents in Gippsland were compounded by mental health distress, substance use, homelessness and welfare concerns.

“Access to trauma-informed mental health interventions is limited,” she added.

“State funding for specialised family, domestic and sexual violence counselling does not currently meet demand, often resulting in victim-survivors being unable to access the support they need.

“This pilot project will help meet the current needs for therapeutic interventions as well as build future capacity and capability to deliver family, domestic and sexual violence support in the region.”

Gippsland PHN’s submission proposes embedding a Local Care Team with Quantum Support Services in Latrobe and Baw Baw, expanding existing case management and care coordination services and enabling increased capacity to respond to and reduce current waiting time for service.

The project will also commission family, domestic and sexual violence trauma-informed therapeutic services, working under the Victorian Government’s recently published framework for trauma-informed practice.

Mrs Jacob said work would start immediately, with the project up and running in three to six months.

“We have collaborated with key partners in developing this submission and also on previous work,” she said.

“They are all as excited as we are to secure this funding and committed to developing a sustainable model of care for other regions to follow that will support victim-survivors of family, domestic and sexual violence in their recovery.”