29.1 This chapter examines integrated responses across Australia to issues of family violence and child maltreatment, including the essential elements of such responses: common policies and objectives; inter-agency collaboration; and the provision of victim support, including legal services and victims’ compensation. Information sharing, which underpins effective integrated responses, is discussed in Chapter 30. Specialisation—in particular specialised courts—which may also be a feature of integrated responses, is discussed in Chapter 32.

Integrated responses

29.2 ‘Integrated responses’ to family violence have flourished since a pioneering model, the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, was established in Duluth, Minnesota in 1981 (the Duluth Model). This model is based on four key principles: the need for coordination and cooperation between agencies; the need for collaboration between partners; a focus on victim safety; and the need for offenders to be held accountable for their actions.[1] The Duluth model features offender programs, community awareness-raising and training, and case management. It works in tandem with, and monitors, criminal justice services. A similar model was adopted in Hamilton, New Zealand in 1991.[2]



29.3 ‘Integration’ is sometimes considered synonymous with the terms ‘coordination’, ‘cooperation’ and ‘collaboration’. These latter terms tend to indicate degrees of integration. Agencies that coordinate service delivery ‘might share information and dovetail their processes but they do so essentially in order to each pursue their own goals more efficiently’.[3] Integration, on the other hand, requires

agencies to decide on and articulate common goals and agree on ways to pursue those goals. Integration of services is more than coordinated service delivery—it is a whole new service. Co-location of agencies, agreed protocols and codes of practice, joint service delivery, agencies reconstituting or realigning their core business to confront the challenges posed by a broadened conception of the problem: these are the key indicators of an integrated response.[4]

29.4 Cooperation, coordination and integration may be conceptualised as part of a scale of integration, as set out below:


Cooperative links



Parties/agencies act without reference to each other, although the actions of one may affect the other(s).

Parties establish ongoing ties, but formal surrender of independence does not occur. A willingness to work together for some common goals. Communication emphasised. Requires goodwill and some mutual understanding.

Planned harmonisation of activities between the separate parties. Duplication of activities and resources is minimised. Requires agreed plans and protocols or appointment of an external coordinator or (case) manager.

Links between the separate parties draw them into a single system. Boundaries between parties begin to dissolve as they become effectively work units of sub groups within a single larger organisation.

Source: M Fine, P Kuru and C Thomson, Coordinated and Integrated Human Service Delivery Models: Final Report (2005) Social Policy Research Centre, University of NSW, 4.

29.5 According to this scale, most of the ‘integrated responses’ described in this chapter are more accurately characterised as forming cooperative links or coordination, rather than integration.

29.6 Integration may occur at different levels, including national, state government or local level, and between individual consumers and staff. The degree of integration may be loose—where there are independent decentralised organisations ‘interacting as the occasion arises’: or tight, where there are centralised independent organisational units acting in a coordinated or collaborative way.[5]

29.7 There are also different models of integration. A report produced for the NSW Cabinet Office and Premier’s Department in 2005 identified 10 different models of service delivery, including ‘one stop shops’ (involving co-location of services), ‘case management’ (integrated delivery of services focusing on client outcomes) and ‘inter-agency collaboration’.[6] The report noted that most projects tend to combine elements of these different conceptual models.

Integrated responses

29.8 The term ‘integrated responses’ is typically used in the literature to refer specifically to inter-agency models of collaboration, often based on the Duluth model. They may be distinguished from ‘whole of government’ responses to family violence, which are government policy frameworks that span a range of departments and agencies. Whole of government responses may form an element of an integrated response (as discussed below), but they do not necessarily exhibit other features of an integrated response such as mechanisms for inter-agency collaboration and service delivery.

29.9 Features of an integrated response may include:

  • common policies and objectives, potentially including pro-arrest and prosecution policies;[7]

  • inter-agency collaboration and information sharing, which may include: coordinated leadership across services and resources; sharing of resources and protocols; and inter-agency tracking and management of family violence incidents;

  • the provision of victim support;

  • commitment to ongoing training and education;[8]

  • ongoing data collection and evaluation, with a view to system review and process improvements;[9] and

  • specialised family violence courts, lists, and offender programs for those who engage in family violence.[10]

29.10 While a comprehensive integrated response has all of these features, not all features are required for a project to be considered an integrated response. Both comprehensive, and more limited, integrated responses in the family violence and child protection contexts in Australia are discussed below.

[1] Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs, Duluth Model on Public Intervention <www.theduluthmodel.
org/duluthmodelonpublic.php> at 11 January 2010.

[2] J Mulroney, Trends in Interagency Work (2003), prepared for the Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse, 3.

[3] Domestic Violence and Incest Resource Centre, Developing an Integrated Response to Family Violence in Victoria: Issues and Directions (2004), 11.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid, 5.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Pro-arrest and pro-prosecution policies are discussed in Chs 8 and 9.

[8] Discussed in Ch 31.

[9] Discussed in Ch 31.

[10] Statewide Steering Committee to Reduce Family Violence, Reforming the Family Violence System in Victoria (2007), 19. Specialisation is discussed in Ch 32.