safe steps

safe steps Family Violence Response Centre strives to eliminate violence against women and children. This project was delivered in partnership with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) through the Public Sector Innovation Fund.


Reimagine the Refuge Resource Register

The Refuge Resource Register matches women and children experiencing, or at risk of family violence with appropriate places of safety. The existing version was run on a Microsoft Access database. This was time intensive to maintain and required significant manual intervention. safe steps staff made daily calls to approximately 30 refuges to check and update refuge vacancies. Many of the supporting processes were ad-hoc and complex.

A secure solution for refuges and vulnerable women

Information ‘double handling’ and the use of email / fax to exchange confidential client information meant Government security standards were not being met. safe steps data is classified PROTECTED (Major) in accordance with the DHHS Information Security Classification Policy. It was pivotal to ensure adequate controls to this classification were in place.

Agility, flexibility and research

This year-long project began with research. We learned the refuges’ perspective, internal practices and processes through interviews and collaborative workshops. Over several sprints, designs were tested and refined with feedback from different users groups. Digital surveys captured browser versions and operating systems to understand the technical mix. We combined the quantitative (time taken processing requests to find appropriate shelters) and the qualitative (the experience of women being connected by the system) into a recommendation report for consideration by the department and key stakeholders.

The user-centred design process was useful in helping us understand how this tool will impact all users in the system Sam Hannah-Rankin Executive Director, Public Sector Reform, Department of Premier and Cabinet

Systems integration and build

The Family Violence Refuge Register solves a very specific need. We borrowed concepts from social networking to allow the selection of refuges and referral of cases to individuals in real time, while contained within a bespoke and purpose built system. Conduct designed a ‘lite’ integration with SHIP, a commonly used system across government agencies. Users can drag/drop exported PDFs from SHIP into the Register which reads and pre-populates information for the creation of a case. Developed on AZURE, the platform is engineered to support future growth and scalability for national adoption by other government departments.

Proactive approach to change management

Conduct developed evidence-based recommendations and implemented a training program. A sense of shared ownership from both external and internal stakeholders lowered barriers to user adoption. This program helped to achieve:

  • Minimal change requests
  • Realistic and achievable timelines
  • True budgeting
  • No surprises
  • Simpler user acceptance testing
  • More confidence in the output


  • The referral process is more secure for sending documents
  • Increased confidentiality for women using the service
  • Decreased time to match women at risk to appropriate shelters
  • More personalised results to women at risk of family violence
  • Reduced time to onboard refuges and shelters


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1300 368 277