Evaluation of a Regional Family Domestic Violence Service

Our partner DVassist provides much needed counselling services for those affected by family domestic violence in WA’s regional communities.

Researchers at the Centre for Social Impact at The University of Western Australia evaluated the DVassist pilot program through mixed methods:

  • Analysis of case management data, and
  • Interviews and written statements from DVassist staff, and regional stakeholders

The evaluation showed over a 20-month period, DVassist recorded over 2,500 calls with the majority of calls focused on counselling.

Why are DVassist counselling services critical in regional WA?

DVassist counselling services are critical in regional Western Australia for a number of reasons. These include:

  • Fear of stigma, shame or community gossip can deter people from seeking help
  • A lack of privacy due to the high likelihood that police, health professionals, and domestic and family violence workers know both the person experiencing the violence and the person using the violence can inhibit people’s willingness to use local services.
  • People who seek help find difficulty accessing services due to geographical isolation, lack of transportation options, and not having access to their own income. In most cases there aren't even services within their town or community to access.

After a ten-month hiatus due to a lack of funding, DVassist relaunched its confidential telephone counselling in August 2023 to support people experiencing family and domestic violence.

Following an evaluation of the pilot program that recommended an ongoing online service for regional, rural and remote areas, CSI UWA has now commenced the evaluation of the relaunched phone counselling service.

Report recommendations

  1. Funding for online FDV services available to all regional, rural and remote areas of Western Australia.
    • Our report showed that DVassist services removed many of those barriers, including distance and travel, cost, waiting times, operating hours, privacy and a lack of service options.
    • Our report also found DVassist helped clients increase their awareness, confidence and help-seeking behaviours, as well as their safety, and mental and physical wellbeing.
  2. Support for online multi-session counselling with continuity in counselling
  3. Free counselling to men engaged in a behaviour change program
  4. Ongoing face-to-face community engagement in the regions to educate stakeholders, and build trust and confidence in the program
  5. Employment of First Nations persons for the cultural safety of the program
  6. Systemic change to access to administration datasets to assess and improve FDV outcomes for all FDV services