Victims of family and domestic violence don't always report to police and often fall under the cracks but a new pilot in the ACT hopes to change that.
The Family Violence Safety Action Pilot will enable government and non-government sectors to collaborate, identify, assess and respond to high-risk family violence matters in the ACT.
It is an expansion of a case-tracking program that was developed more than 20 years ago.
The program, which started in 1998, called the Family Violence Intervention Project was designed to track the cases of domestic and family violence that were the subject of criminal proceedings.
Weekly meetings are held between agencies to share information and collaborate on matters of family and domestic violence that are before the criminal justice system.
The current case tracking scheme is limited to matters where charges have been laid and the tracking ceases once the accused is either sentenced or found not guilty.
Agencies in the Family Violence Intervention Project comprise ACT Policing, the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, ACT Corrective Services, Domestic Violence Crisis Service, Child and Youth Protection Services and Victim Support ACT.
While the program was revolutionary when it was introduced it has since fallen behind other states and territories where schemes have been introduced that track matters beyond the criminal justice system.
The new pilot will expand the scope of agencies that take part and will enable case tracking to occur for matters not in the criminal justice system. As well, education, housing and health have been invited to take part in a round table on the project.
ACT Victims of Crime Commissioner Heidi Yates said the pilot program was brought forward due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The scheme received funding from the federal government as part of coronavirus response for domestic and family violence that is administered by the states and territories.
"We know that the vast majority of family and domestic violence matters never present to the family violence system so relying on that system to generate a case tracking list will only give us such a small proportion of family matters," Ms Yates said.
"We also know ... in the middle we have a significant number of matters that may be disclosed to a non-criminal justice agency such as a GP or health service, of a refuge or support service."
Family Violence Safety Action Pilot coordinator Nina Birkl said the pilot would also look at perpetrator accountability, which has been absent from the case-tracking program.
"The other thing we are focusing on in these meetings is we are having this underpinning of the safety of women and children but also looking at what it means for perpetrator accountability," she said.
"So how do we create a system that supports individual responsibility taking for perpetrators and also looking at that accountability measure.
"The ACT hasn't had this perpetrator lens prior to this and we're conscience that part of what we are going to be doing over the next 12 months is really mapping out where the touch points of these perpetrators are in the system and what that might mean for the future."
At the start of the coronavirus lockdown, fewer family violence victims had presented to police, in some weeks in March and April family violence matters dropped by 40 per cent.
But at the same time more victims had presented to support services.
"While there was a reduction during the initial COVID period of reports to police and through the criminal justice system, services have always been busy ... in many cases it has increased in recent times," ACT coordinator-general for family safety Kirsty Windeyer said.
"We did see after lock down that services were reporting an increase in the complexity of the matters that were coming to them and also in some circumstances the brutality of physical violence."
In the wake of the pandemic, Canberra victims of domestic violence had reported an increase in strangulation and choking at the hands of former partners and family members.
An ACT government report into domestic violence from 2016 said there needed to be better coordination between government and non-government agencies, which is the ultimate goal of the pilot.