The symposium concluded with a panel discussion, covering the following points:

  • Panelists discussed practical problems they have faced in responding to adolescent violence.
  • What is their ideal vision for a system that would provides culturally safe, appropriate and accessible service responses to all families and communities?
  • What are the barriers to achieving a system that breaks down silos between service systems? How can we work past these?
  • What are the gaps in existing knowledge that we need to fill in order to provide a better service response? What kind of training do practitioners and staff need so that we are better equipped to deal with this complex issue?
  • Audience questions

 (N.B. Assistant Commissioner Dean McWhirter was called away to other business, but we have shared a one-on-one interview where Dean had the opportunity to respond to these panel questions.)


Facilitated by the Honourable Marcia Neave AO

The Honourable Marcia Neave AO was appointed a judge of the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of Victoria in February 2006. After her retirement in August 2014 she served as a reserve judge. In February 2015, she was appointed Commissioner to the Royal Commission into Family Violence. The Commission’s report was published on 30 March 2016. Professor Neave previously held a personal Chair in Law at Monash University and has also held chairs at Adelaide University and in the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University. She is now an Emeritus Professor at Monash University. She has co-authored books on property law, restrictive covenants and easements, wills and intestacy and family property law. Professor Neave has had a long involvement in law reform. In the early 1980s she was Research Director and then a parttime commissioner at the New South Wales Law Reform Commission. Between 2001 and 2006 she was the foundation Chairperson of the Victorian Law Reform Commission. She currently chairs the Victorian Judicial Advisory Group on Family Violence and is the President of Court Network.

Dean McWhirter

Assistant Commissioner Dean McWhirter has had a diverse career during his 38 years in Victoria Police. He has worked at various supervisory levels across Victoria Police including the Intelligence and Covert Support Department, Transit Safety Division, Professional Standards Command, Road Policing Enforcement division and People Development Command. Dean is also the holder of the Australian Police Medal (APM). In March 2015, Dean was appointed as the Assistant Commissioner, Family Violence Command. This Command is the first of its kind in any policing jurisdiction in Australia.
(N.B. Deb Tsorbaris filled in for Dean McWhirter on the day of the event.)

Dr Anita Morris

Dr Anita Morris is the Statewide Family Violence Principal Practitioner in the Department of Health and Human Services. Most recently she completed a secondment at Family Safety Victoria as Director of Statewide Policy and Design for The Orange Door. She holds an Honorary Fellowship at the University of Melbourne and is a Board Member at McAuley Community Services for Women. Dr Morris has worked in government, public health, education and the community sector for over 25 years, and she has a strong interest in evidence-based trauma and violence-informed practice and ethical and safe research with children. Dr Morris gained her PhD in 2015, focusing on understanding children’s perspectives on safety and resiliency in the context of family violence.

Alison MacDonald

Alison Macdonald is currently the Acting CEO of Domestic Violence Victoria (DV Vic). Alison has worked with DV Vic for over twelve years, during which time she has concentrated on family violence law reform, homelessness policy, integrated family violence systems and primary prevention of violence against women among other areas. Alison led DV Vic’s participation in Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence. She sits on numerous reference and advisory committees to oversee the implementation of the Royal Commission’s recommendations including co-chairing the Statewide Family Violence Steering Committee with Minister Williams, the Ministerial Family Violence Housing Assistance Taskforce and the Family Violence Industry Taskforce. With a career primarily focused on women’s rights, health and equality, she has previously worked in the sexual and reproductive health, international development and community housing fields.

Leeanne Anthony

Leeanne Anthony is an experienced senior manager with over 25 years in the government and non-government sectors in direct practice, policy and program management, including in the United Kingdom. Leeanne has experience in social work practice with families, children and young people in a range of contexts including statutory and non-statutory services. She has also worked in policy and program design and development across government and within the sector with a particular focus on services for vulnerable children and young people and their families. She has a long involvement with the genesis and evolution of Child FIRST and Integrated Family Services. In the past five years Leeanne has been involved in the development of the conceptual framework for Children and Families Reform and recently the design and roll out across the state of therapeutic responses to victim survivors of family violence, with a specific focus on children. Currently, Leeanne holds the position of Manager, Recovery and Healing in Family Safety Victoria and holds portfolio responsibility for Adolescent Family Violence programs in Victoria.

If you know of a program or service that works specifically with young people using violence in the home, please get in touch!

Get in touch

Want to learn more? OPEN can help!

Get assistance !