Career spotlight: Rebecca McParland, Manager Statewide Policy and Design, Family Safety Victoria

We are not responding adequately to the scale and impact of the harm caused by family violence. This was one conclusion of the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence, which handed down its recommendations last year.

To start solving the problem, the report recommended that seventeen Support and Safety Hubs be established across the state. Master of Public Administration (Enhanced) graduate Rebecca McParland is managing a team responsible for the design of key elements in the hubs, and how the hubs will interface with other agencies and institutions.

She works at Family Safety Victoria, a new agency that started in July. The hubs she’s helping to design will deliver a fundamental change to the way we work with women, children, young people and families  who are experiencing family violence. They will make the experience of getting support as easy as possible to simplify what can often be confusing justice, health and social services.

“It’s challenging and exciting working at Family Safety Victoria,” McParland says. “The people here are committed to broader system reform, so there’s a lot of work to do, but we’re all in.”

It’s a complex job. McParland studied the Master of Public Administration in part to connect her day-to-day policy work with the various contexts feeding into it.

“It adds to the richness of your thinking,” she says of undertaking postgraduate study.

Key to the degree is that students bring their own professional experiences to the classroom. “We all shared our experiences against the backdrop of the curriculum,” she says. “So you get to develop really great relationships with people, which have continued to this day.”

McParland started the course in part to challenge herself, and says that on that level it succeeded. “It’s always good to be challenged. It’s always good to be learning. That’s something that I’ve definitely realised in my career – the importance of professional development. It can look different to different people, but for me it meant having the opportunity to interrogate the literature across different systems and contexts, and to tap into broader ways of thinking,” she says.

“Sometimes it’s nice to step back and have that time to think. You don’t necessarily get the opportunity to do that in your day to day work life.”