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Lived Experience Focus Groups

Invitation to join a Focus Group

Share your lived experience to help us identify areas for improvement and good practice in the family violence service system across the Bayside Peninsula.

Your perspectives and experience are valued and can influence change.

More than our story: action, wisdom and change.

We are holding Focus Groups of up to 8 participants each to hear their lived experience of what getting family violence support in the Bayside Peninsula was like. These Focus Groups are part of our “Client Journey Mapping” project which is our key piece of work this year. We want to make sure we hear from people who have experienced the system so that we can make improvements where it’s needed.

If you have any questions or would like assistance to register, please contact us at [email protected] or call us on 0466 538 388

If you would like to participate in a Focus Group in August 2023, you can either register via this link, or you can contact us directly. If you need support to register or want to discuss participating with us, please contact us at [email protected] or call us on 0466 538 388

Am I Eligible to Participate?

To participate you will need to be a self-described, female-identifying victim-survivor of family or domestic violence and are:

  • aged 18 or over
  • have sought formal or informal family violence support in the past 5 years, predominately in the Bayside Peninsula (that is, in Port Phillip, Stonnington, Glen Eira, Bayside, Frankston, Kingston, and/or Mornington Peninsula)
What Will I be ASKED when I Register?

When you register you will be asked to respond to some questions.  These will be as follows – please note that only questions 1 & 2 need an answer.

  1. Please provide a first name (this can be a pseudonym and not your real name)
  2. Please provide contact details that work best and are the safest for you (this can be any email address or phone number that you use.  This will only be used by the research team to arrange an initial chat about your participation)
  3. Do you have any access requirements for attending the online focus group you would like us to know about?

For the project to be a success it is important that a culture of trust, respect, continuous improvement, and no-blame be adopted. The learnings derived from the project are intended to improve the BPA systems response to family violence.  The following principles will be adopted for this project:


  1. Client privacy and well-being will be maintained as the utmost priority.
  2. Informed consent will be sought from all clients before they participate in a focus group.
  3. The Client Experience Reports will be thoroughly de-identified, but services will acknowledge and inform clients that there is a possibility that they will be identifiable from the content of the case.
  4. The Client Experience Reports will faithfully capture the client’s voice, experience and perspective, rather than the perspective or interpretation of individual workers or services.
  5. The Client will have an opportunity to review and revise the Client Experience Report from a focus group at any point
  6. Clients may withdraw from the Client Experience Report at any time.
  7. The Client Experience Reports will be shared and discussed with the aim of identifying systemic issues and common themes, rather than focusing on individual details or experiences.
  8. Information and feedback on the quality or response of individual services will be shared respectfully, constructively, objectively and without judgement, regardless of whether the service is present at the meeting.
  9. Acknowledging that it is sometimes difficult to hear of shortfalls in our own service, services will be open to constructive feedback and learning, This work is being done in the spirit of continuous improvement.
  10. Working Group members will disclose immediately if they perceive there is a conflict or potential conflict in hearing information contained in a Client Experience Report and remove themselves from the discussion.
  11. Client Experience Reports will not be shared outside of the Partnership without the express permission of clients.

If you wish to participate in a Focus Group you will need to read and complete the following consent form.  This form will be available at the Focus Groups for you to complete.  If you need support to register, please contact us at [email protected] or call us on 0466 538 388

My Consent Form


‘Focus groups’ are a key tool used to work with people with lived-experience.  They will be run in a  ‘conversational style’ to ensure they are open, welcoming and encourage participation.  Focus groups concentrate on what matters to participants and seek to understand and validate their wisdom and current experiences.  We believe that women and children with lived experience of family violence should be listened to, believed and respected. We also believe that victim/survivors should have the opportunity to share their story and recommendations for how the family violence system can do things differently or better to support people who are experiencing family violence.

Focus Groups:

  • Place participants and their learning at the centre of the evaluation.
  • Support participants to find their own voice and power, feeling further empowered to affect social change and bring about gender justice, personally and politically challenging inequality and sexism.
  • Allow evaluators and the Project staff to show respect and compassion for participants
Focus Group Practice
  • Create an atmosphere of safety with ground rules considered and enforced to enhance safety and promote respectful exchange.
  • Facilitators ask questions rather than position themselves as authorities and advice-givers.
  • Explore differences and similarities in participant’s experiences and ethics.
  • Enable participants to speak as individuals whose own unique experiences matter and provide space for them to make sense of how their stories were located in the systems responses.
  • Ask participants to consider uncertainties, as well as deeply held beliefs on gender, violence, power and privilege.
The Client Journey Mapping Focus Groups

We aim to run four to five Focus Groups, with five to eight participants in each Group.  The Focus Groups will be run across the entire Bayside Peninsula in August, and can be run at times to suit participants.  Each Focus Group will run for 1.5 hours.

The type of topics we may cover, led by the participants, would be:

  • What assistance or support you needed
  • What services you interacted with
  • How you found this experience
  • What was helpful and what was difficult
  • What you think needs to improve and
  • Your hopes for the future.

The project is being run by the Bayside Peninsula Integrated Family Violence Partnership The Partnership brings together the many services in the Bayside Peninsula whose work overlaps with family violence response.  We have plans and goals for each year, and for 2023 we are focusing on understanding clients experiences of the Bayside Peninsula’s family violence service system.

For this project, we have partnered with ShantiWorksa small feminist, social justice organisation committed to centring and taking care of victim-survivors experiences in the consultation process. They have run many focus groups with people with lived experience and ensure that participants are supported throughout the project. 

In this project, we want to work with people with lived experience to understand what gaps and barriers they encountered in their journey, and also what they found worked well.  All this information will be used for more in-depth analysis of the family violence service system in the Bayside Peninsula.

The Bayside Peninsula is made up of 7 councils: Port Phillip, Stonnington, Glen Eira, Bayside, Frankston, Kingston, and Mornington Peninsula

Through analysis of the findings from the Focus Groups, areas for system improvement will be determined by identifying key pain points; gaps and barriers; and highlight examples of good practice. It aims to provide crucial knowledge to inform future strategic system focus and how best practice can be sustained and adopted by organisations.

Client journey mapping has been identified as a helpful tool to support data collection and incorporate the voices of lived experience. Through this approach it will be possible to understand service delivery, local area integration, and how movement through the sector was experienced by a client.

The Project Timeline

Feb to Jul 2023:  Planning the project and engaging with ShantiWorks

Jul to Aug 2023:  Running four Focus Groups across the Bayside Peninsula Area

Aug to Sep 2023:  Write a Report on the findings across all Focus Groups

Oct to Nov 2023:  Run a Forum for agencies in the Bayside Peninsula to present and discuss the project findings

Who Oversees the Project?

In the Bayside Peninsula Partnership, projects are often run under the oversight, or governance, of a Working Group.  For this Client Journey Mapping project, the Partnership’s ‘Data and Evidence Working Group’ provides oversight.  This Working Group is made up of representatives from the following agencies:

  • The Orange Door
  • The Bayside Peninsula Child & Family Alliance
  • The Salvation Army Family Violence Program
  • Family Life
  • Good Shepherd Family Violence Program
  • Court Services
  • Peninsula Community Legal Centre
  • South Eastern Melbourne Primary Health Network (SEMPHN)
  • Peninsula Health

The Working Group will be directly involved in reviewing the findings of the Focus Groups to better understand areas for improvement in the Bayside Peninsula.

What are the Focus Groups about?

The Bayside Peninsula Partnership aims to improve the way that services in the Bayside Peninsula respond to and support people who have experienced family violence; and also to people who have used violence in their relationship. As part of this work, one of our working groups is running Focus Groups to hear about and understand the experiences they had with local support services. The Focus Groups are not ask about your relationship or the violence you experienced.

Why are you asking me to participate?

We believe that people with lived experience of violence should be listened to, believed and respected. We also believe that people should have the opportunity to share their story and recommendations for how services can do things differently to better help people who are experiencing or using violence. We value your experience and would like to hear your story of interacting with support services so that we can make these services better.

Do I have to participate?

Participation in this activity is voluntary. This means that you are free to say no if you do not want to participate. Saying no is okay. You don’t have to explain why. There will be no negative consequences if you say no, and this will not affect your ability to get support from services in the future.

If I agree to participate, what will I be asked to do?

If you agree to share your story, you will be asked to participate in a 1.5 hour Focus Group which will be conducted at a location and a time that you can select from our options. You are welcome to bring a support person with you if you would like.

Two experienced workers from ShantiWorks will run the Focus Group. One worker will be speaking with you and asking about your story of seeking help from services as a result of experiencing or using family violence. The second worker will be attending to take notes and support the first worker.

During the Focus Group, topics that are likely to be discussed are about your experiences with services, including:

  • What services you had contact with
  • Who else you sought help from
  • What assistance or support you needed
  • How you found this experience
  • What was helpful and what was difficult
  • How the services worked together to help you
  • What you think needs to improve

If there are any questions you don’t want to answer, you can say no at any time. You can also leave the Focus Group at any time. You do not have to explain why, and there will be no negative consequences.

What is the process for children or teenagers who would like to participate?

We recognise the importance of giving voice to children and young people and ensuring that they are able to represent their own experiences. However, for this project we are focusing on female-identifying adult victim-survivors.  If you are a child, or have a child that is keen to share their experiences, please contact us at [email protected]

How will my information be stored?

The story you share will be recorded in a written format and stored securely by the Bayside Peninsula Integrated Family Violence Partnership. No Focus Group will be recorded.  We will discuss the themes we identify with you to ensure that they reflect what you have told us. Notes will be kept for 5 years by the Partnership. Before participating, you will be asked to sign a consent form. This consent form will be securely stored by the Partnership for 5 years before being deleted.

How will my information be used?

The findings from the Focus Groups will be written into a report which will be shared with other services to help improve the way that they work. No identifying information will be included in the report and all working group members involved in the project will make sure your confidentiality is protected. Specific and identifying details from the Focus Groups will not be shared with people outside of the working group. When the report is written, it may include quotes from interviews to demonstrate the themes, however details which may identify you will not be included. All participants will have the option of reviewing the report before we share it with other services.

How will you protect my privacy?

Any information that could be used to identify you will be kept confidential and will not be shared with others. If you decide you do not want your story to be shared, you can tell the worker at any time (before, during or after the Focus Group) and they will keep your information private.

Of course, there may be identifying features of your story that you do wish to have included and which are relevant to your diverse experiences. We do not want to remove anything that is important to you and your story. So if you would like identifying information included please let us know. This may include your age and sexuality.

Can I withdraw from this project?

You can withdraw from this project at any time. If you decide you do not want to be part of the project, we will delete all information that we have collected about you and your experience. You do not have to explain why you would like to withdraw and there will be no negative consequences from withdrawing from the project.

Will I be paid for my time?

Yes.  You can either be paid via an invoice (if you have an ABN) or we can arrange to have a voucher given to you.

The Focus Group will go for an hour and a half for which you will receive $90.  In addition, we can reimburse you for travel, parking and childcare costs – we will require receipts for these.

Support after the interview

Talking about your experiences can be an empowering process. It can also be difficult or bring things up for you. The project team will call you a few days after the Focus Group to check in and to link you in with further support if you feel this is needed. We may make a safety plan with you if required. You will also be able to share anything else you have thought of or would like us to know. We may also use this check in to ask additional questions or clarify what you have told us.

Where can I get more information or make a complaint if I am unhappy about this activity?

If you would like more information about this research activity or if you are concerned or unhappy about how the Focus Group was conducted or how your information may be used, you can contact Rosemary Burrell at the Bayside Peninsula Integrated Family Violence Partnership via [email protected]

For information on understanding what Family Violence is, the impacts it has, the different forms it takes, and more, go to Safe+Equal’s web page on Understanding Family Violence

To identify Family Violence, go to Safe+Equal’s web page on Identifying, assessing and managing Risk

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