31.56 As noted above, the Commissions recognise a number of challenges to the provision of quality education and training. The quality and effectiveness of training need to be regularly monitored and evaluated to ensure that resources are effectively utilised, and that best practice is maintained.
31.57 In 2009, ECAV conducted an audit of domestic and family violence training provided by government and non-governmental organisations in NSW, as part of the Intersectoral Domestic and Family Violence Education and Training project, established under the NSW Government’s whole of government approach to domestic and family violence. This audit involved a survey of training conducted in key agencies in 2008. The survey was followed by a number of regional cross-sector focus groups on training needs. This audit has not yet been published.
31.58 In the Consultation Paper, the Commissions proposed that the Australian and state and territory governments should ensure the quality of family violence training by:
developing minimum standards for assessing the quality of family violence training, and regularly evaluating the quality of such training in relevant government agencies using those standards;
developing best practice guidelines in relation to family violence training, including the content, length, and format of such training;
developing training based on evidence of the needs of those being trained, with the ultimate aim of improving outcomes for victims; and
fostering cross-agency and collaborative training, including cross-agency placements.
31.59 Further, the Commissions suggested that it would be desirable, before implementing any recommendations on training, that the Australian Government and state and territory governments collaborate in conducting a national audit of family violence training conducted by government and non-government agencies in order to:
ensure that existing resources are best used;
evaluate whether training meets best practice principles; and
promote the development of best practice in training.
Submissions and consultations
31.60 A significant number of submissions supported the proposal for a national audit. National Legal Aid submitted that:
Such an audit would be of benefit in consultation with the sector only to the extent necessary to identify the minimum standards for assessing the quality of family violence training and to identify gaps or areas of duplication which should be addressed to make use of available resources.
31.61 The Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse agreed. However, it noted that ‘it is not only a question of making use of the resources—in some cases there are no resources and this needs to be remedied’.
31.62 Similarly, there was broad support for the development of minimum standards for assessing the quality of education and training, and for fostering cross-agency and collaborative training. ECAV submitted that:
We would suggest that consideration be given to the development of ‘minimum standards’ for domestic and family violence training at the national level, perhaps in conjunction with the proposed national development framework … We note that ECAV’s recent audit of Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) training in NSW indicates that currently most training in NSW is occurring in single agency settings. However, the findings of a series of statewide cross-sector focus groups about DFV training needs indicate that service providers would welcome the opportunity to participate in more cross-agency professional development. Despite the challenges involved in implementing this type of training, its potential benefit in terms of supporting best practice integrated responses needs highlighting. Consideration ought also to be given to factoring intersectoral training into the development of a comprehensive professional development framework for DFV practitioners.
31.63 A number of submissions also noted that the Australian Government has stated that it would ‘develop a multi disciplinary training package for lawyers, judicial officers and other professionals working within the family law system, to improve the consistency and handling of cases’.
31.64 The Commissions agree that the Australian Government and state and territory governments should collaborate in conducting a national audit of training by government and non-government agencies. Such an audit—conducted in consultation with the sector—would be useful in identifying gaps and areas of duplication of existing resources. The Commissions consider that this is a desirable first step before implementing any recommendations on education and training. The Commissions note that the experience of the ECAV can be drawn upon in designing any audit.
31.65 The Commissions believe that developing minimum standards for assessing the quality of education and developing best practice guidelines are important tools to help improve the system. Below the Commissions consider the role of a national body that could develop minimum standards and promote best practice in family violence responses.
31.66 The Commissions also endorse the Australian Government’s response to Time for Action, in developing a multi-disciplinary training package for those working in the family law system. The problem of ‘silos’ separating the different areas of the legal framework dealing with family violence was a recurring theme in this Inquiry. The Commissions are of the view that cross-agency and collaborative training is important to ensure that those working in the system are adequately equipped to deal with all aspects of family violence. Cross-agency training is part of a suite of recommendations aimed at generating a more seamless and effective response to family violence.
31.67 Finally, the Commissions note that such an audit may also provide the opportunity to consider the merits and practicability of a system of accreditation for legal professionals working in the areas of family violence and sexual assault.
Recommendation 31–5 The Australian, state and territory governments should collaborate in conducting a national audit of family violence training conducted by government and non-government agencies in order to:
(a) ensure that existing resources are best used;
(b) evaluate whether training meets best practice principles; and
(c) promote the development of best practice in training.
 S Stewart (Education Centre Against Violence), Consultation, By telephone, 18 February 2010.
 Consultation Paper, Proposal 19–7.
 Ibid, Proposal 19–16.
 National Legal Aid, Submission FV 232, 15 July 2010; Women’s Legal Services Australia, Submission FV 225, 6 July 2010; The Australian Association of Social Workers, Submission FV 224, 2 July 2010; Legal Aid NSW, Submission FV 219, 1 July 2010; Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse, Submission FV 216, 30 June 2010; National Abuse Free Contact Campaign, Submission FV 196, 26 June 2010; Women’s Legal Service Victoria, Submission FV 189, 25 June 2010; Confidential, Submission FV 184, 25 June 2010; Women’s Legal Services NSW, Submission FV 182, 25 June 2010; Queensland Law Society, Submission FV 178, 25 June 2010; Canberra Rape Crisis Centre, Submission FV 172, 25 June 2010; Confidential, Submission FV 171, 25 June 2010; Berry Street Inc, Submission FV 163, 25 June 2010; Confidential, Submission FV 162, 25 June 2010; The Central Australian Aboriginal Family Legal Unit Aboriginal Corporation, Submission FV 149, 25 June 2010; Justice for Children, Submission FV 148, 24 June 2010; Domestic Violence Victoria, Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria, Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria, Victorian Women with Disabilities Network, Submission FV 146, 24 June 2010; National Council of Single Mothers and their Children Inc, Submission FV 144, 24 June 2010; Confidential, Submission FV 130, 21 June 2010; N Ross, Submission FV 129, 21 June 2010; Commissioner for Victims’ Rights (South Australia), Submission FV 111, 9 June 2010; Education Centre Against Violence, Submission FV 90, 3 June 2010; C Pragnell, Submission FV 70, 2 June 2010; Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service Network, Submission FV 46, 24 May 2010; M Condon, Submission FV 45, 18 May 2010.
 National Legal Aid, Submission FV 232, 15 July 2010.
 Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse, Submission FV 216, 30 June 2010.
 Education Centre Against Violence, Submission FV 90, 3 June 2010.
 National Legal Aid, Submission FV 232, 15 July 2010; Commissioner for Victims’ Rights (South Australia), Submission FV 111, 9 June 2010.