Domestic violence survivors in Canberra could one day have another option outside of the cops or the courts to get help.
The designers of the ACT's family safety hub, due to come online in mid-2018, are looking at options for early intervention for families at risk of violence.
The model is being developed with Family Safety ACT coordinator-general Jo Wood and Victims of Crime commissioner John Hinchey.
Mr Hinchey said there needed to be a place where people could seek help for troubling behaviour early on without running the risk of prosecution.
"When the government established the coordinator-general for Family Safety and gave the commitment to develop a family safety hub, consultations occurred in developing that hub that clearly showed not everyone subject to domestic or family violence wanted a criminal justice response," Mr Hinchey said.
"Only having one type of response to domestic and family violence creates barriers for people to come forward to receive the help they need to get the violence to stop."
However Mr Hinchey said it was key the ACT did not fall back into the trap where it was left up to the victim to chose whether to proceed with charges.
"For example, in this territory we have a pro-arrest policy for domestic and family violence, that is an important policy that protects victims of abuse from being coerced into dropping charges against abusers and so we're in a tricky situation where we need to protect victims of violence and have a criminal justice response but also find ways to respond to domestic and family violence that encourages people who wouldn't come forward to police to disclose their situation to those that can help them," Mr Hinchey said.
Ms Wood said there were better opportunities to work with families to increase safety and reduce violence when there was an opportunity for early intervention.
"Our current system offers generic or one-size-fits-all pathways to safety that do not meet the needs or aspirations of many victims or families," Ms Wood said.
"People are afraid of the consequences of seeking help. They need anonymous ways to get information about options and pathways to safety. For many, especially those who have experienced trauma, there is real fear about interacting with the legal system and police. A legal response will generally result in separation, which is not the outcome that many people want.
"This inflexibility of options creates a barrier for vulnerable groups to access services. For some victims it can feel as if the system is giving them an ultimatum - forcing them to choose between their commitment to family and community and their own personal safety."
One program already offering families another choice is the Domestic Violence Crisis Service's Room4Change pilot.
The crisis service runs residential and other support programs for men at risk of perpetrating violence, as well as separate programs for their partners and children.
Its chief executive Mirjana Wilson said it was the first dedicated violence program that sought to work with all family members.
"If you just do work with victims, you're just mopping up the damage," Ms Wilson said.
"Women have said they don't want the relationship to end, they just want the violence to stop, so what can you offer him?"
Currently there are between 20 and 30 families using the program, with six houses available for the men's residential program.
Participation is voluntary and men have to meet a select criteria to be included.
The first participants are weeks away from graduating from the program.
Ms Wilson said the program was not the whole solution but could help stop violence escalating to crisis point in situations where people were willing to confront their behaviour.
"We still need a legal response and all of other programs but if we're going to tackle domestic and family violence seriously, we need a suite of options available to different people and different communities, difference families need different responses," Ms Wilson said.
"There still needs to be refuges for women who need to flee and there are going to be families who want to stay together so how do you tailor responses to all families in Canberra but do it safely?"