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Referring clients to other services

Referring clients to other services

Referring clients to other services

Referral is the process of connecting victim survivors to information or services that fall outside of your organisation’s areas of expertise. 

With victim survivors entering the service system via a range of service providers (such as health care services, emergency services, schools, legal centres and housing services) it’s crucial you know how to effectively refer them to appropriate support services to ensure all of their unique needs are met. This may include a specialist family violence service, the police, courts, legal centres and therapeutic support services. 

How do I discuss referral options with my client?

You should always consult the person being referred before making a referral.

When discussing different services and support options with a victim survivor of family violence, make sure you approach the conversation in a way that: 

  • Acknowledges and respects the client’s identity and unique needs (including their culture, family, priorities, concerns, barriers, levels of trauma and risk).
  • Promotes their agency and choice – work with your client to see what information they want shared and respect their views on the organisations you are considering refer them to. Where appropriate, fill out the referral forms together. 
  • Is transparent – disclose that a referral will involve you sharing relevant information about her and her children with another service. Ensure they provide consent where needed.
  • Acknowledges the efforts they have made to prevent or minimise the harm they or their child have experienced.
  • Is validating, non-judgemental and leaves the door open to access your service in the future. 
  • Recognises any unique barriers that they may face in accessing services (e.g. discrimination, physical barriers, language barriers, or a lack of trust in particular services). 

If you are working with a perpetrator of violence, see our dedicated page for advice and referral options

You can find additional information about discussing family violence with clients and making referrals in our FAQs for workers or on the Victorian Government website.

When and how do I refer clients to another service?

As has been captured by the table below, victim survivors may enter the service system via a range of service providers, such as health care services, emergency services, schools, legal centres and housing services.

For this reason, it’s crucial professionals working across all of these services know when and how to refer victim survivors to those who can provide them with the help and support they need. 

In situations where you are unsure what the appropriate course of action is, consult the MARAM flowchart below to help guide your decision making: 

Source: Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management framework Practice Guides. 

If you’re still unsure after going through the flowchart, you may wish to seek advice from the appropriate point of contact in your team/organisation or a specialist family violence service. 

If an Orange Door operates in your local area, you can contact them directly for guidance. Alternatively, you can find your local specialist family violence service via The Lookout’s service directory.

Remember: referrals and seconday consultations may require you to disclose identifying information about your clients. Your actions must be guided by information sharing legislation

How do I find services to refer the client to? 

There is a whole network of specialist family violence services in Victoria, some of which specialise in working with clients from particular communities (e.g. Indigenous communities or CALD communities). To find well-matched specialist family violence services in your area, go to The Lookout service directory to filter services by region and/or your client’s unique needs. 

What should I do once a referral has been made? 

Once a referral has been made, make sure you have shared all relevant information (including any screenings or risk assessments) with the service who is taking on the client. This will assist in having a shared understanding of family violence risk and support the service accepting the referral in their work.

After completing a referral, it’s a good idea to follow up with the client for feedback about the referral and ensure it was effective. Follow up can facilitate the engagement and ensure any issues that arise are addressed. It can also reduce the likelihood of the client disengaging completely with the support system.