2018 Melbourne Design Awards

spaces, objects, visual, graphic, digital & experience design, design champion, best studio & best start-up, plus over 40 specialist categories

accelerate transformation, celebrate courage, growing demand for design

Family Violence Accommodation Register [DRAFT]

Photo Credit : Marcus Ioane and James Cook




safe steps Family Violence Response Centre is a social change organisation that works to eliminate violence against women and their children. safe steps is committed to providing equitable access to 24 hours, 7 days a week crisis intervention, counselling, advocacy, support, information, referral and emergency accommodation to all women and their children who are victims of domestic/family violence.

The work of safe steps saves lives, empowers women and also disrupts patterns of intergenerational abuse by protecting children from experiencing or witnessing further violence. safe steps is a critically important resource for all women, including women with disabilities, women with complex needs, and women who are further disadvantaged because they do not have permanent residency status.

As the Victorian family violence specialist in danger and lethality risk assessment, it’s essential for safe steps to maintain an immediate response to women and children affected by family violence. Conduct were involved in the development of a Family Violence Accommodation Register; a tool to match women and children experiencing, or at risk of family violence, with appropriate places of safety.

Project Commissioner

safe steps

Project Creator



Simon Krambousanos - Head of Product
Paul Blake - Lead CX Designer
Paul Bonacci - Project Manager
Steve Reynolds - Technical Director
Chris Errey - Software Engineer
Julien Fournier - Software Engineer
Adam McArthur - Software Engineer
Marcus Ioane - Designer
James Cook - Head of Design

Project Brief

Conduct’s brief was to reimagine the Refuge Resource Register to better match women and children experiencing, or at risk of family violence, with appropriate places of safety. The existing process was time intensive to maintain and required significant manual intervention, requiring critical resourcing that was needed elsewhere.

Daily calls to around 30 refuges were required to check and update refuge vacancies and there were high levels of information double handling. Further, the use of email and fax to exchange confidential client information with refuges fell short of Government security standards.

This was one of the most highly sensitive projects Conduct has ever worked on. Given the nature of the information, and the consequences of not handling the information carefully, the key to the brief was to ensure this data was considered ‘private sensitive information’ according the Australian Privacy Act. Conduct conducted a System Risk Management Plan to assess the risk and mitigate the threat level.

Project Innovation/Need

One in four women in Australia have experienced at least one incident of violence in their lifetime at the hands of an intimate partner. When women are physically, emotionally or sexually abused, besides dealing with the immediate consequences of this violence, they often have little awareness of the support channels available to them.

Women impacted by, and fleeing family violence are vulnerable and anxious to seek safety and secure housing for themselves and their children. The creation of a highly secure platform that streamlines and expedites the referral process assists in relieving anxiety during this time of crisis. Women are better informed as they seek urgent rehousing, empowering them to move forward with their lives.

The new platform, the Family Violence Accommodation Register, is more personalised as the parameters for what is an “appropriate” refuge became customisable based on individual safety requirements for the woman. The system now also allows instant access to real time data about what availability each refuge in Victoria has on a given day, helping to speed up the response time.

The work required sensitivity and the team were deeply empathetic to the needs of the women and understood the project from a very human perspective. From a government perspective, the platform is a great example of government’s desire to shine a spotlight on important and very difficult issues, like family violence.

Design Challenge

It was of the highest importance for this project that Conduct ensure adequate security controls were in place appropriate to the required security classification. To do so, Conduct enacted a System Risk Management Plan to assess the risk and effectiveness of these controls to mitigate the threat level. In accordance with the DHHS Information Security Classification Policy, the data transmitted and stored within safe steps needed to be classified as ‘Protected’ according to the Privacy Act, 1988.

The new Family Violence Accommodation Register made the referral process more secure for sending documents, allowing for increased confidentiality for the women using the service. Further, it increased the duty of care and accountability for both refuges and safe steps case workers.

The Family Violence Accommodation Register is an internal enterprise application which was promoted through training, business support, and maintenance. Conduct worked closely with staff at safe steps and consulted a closed network of end users through the research and discovery phase. In identifying the specific user groups, Conduct was able to take them on the journey to ensure complete adoption, engagement, and usage. During this time, Conduct traveled throughout Melbourne and regional Victoria to facilitate adoption of the Register by running training sessions and showcases at refuges.

User Experience

Conduct used a human-centred design approach to develop an appropriate solution to the needs of safe steps. The project began with a significant research and discovery period which began by interviewing and shadowing staff in which to pinpoint actual needs. This was expanded through ideation, rather than just asking ‘what do you want?’

The next step in the process analysed the situation from the refuge’s perspective with a number of state-wide research and collaborative design workshops. This discovery informed a period of iterative design, where Conduct moved from sketches through to a high-fidelity prototype. At each stage, the designs were tested and refined with input from safe steps staff and refuges.

The human-centred design approach ensured that all stakeholders felt a sense of shared ownership throughout the build phase. The step-by-step check-ins meant the project had very few change requests, easier user adoption, simpler user acceptance testing, and high confidence in the output.?

Early feedback has been very positive and adoption has been successful across the board. A Case Manager told us “the register has been going really well and it has saved me SO much time in the referral process”. Conduct will continuously monitor usage, efficiency gains, and feedback reports.

This award celebrates creative and innovative solution design for the successful delivery and provision of services. Consideration given to system integration, user experience, product design
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