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Common Characteristics of Coordinated Response Models

Last edited: February 21, 2019

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Despite the variety of coordinated response models and approaches, some common core characteristics exist.

  • The primary focus falls within four main areas – (with overlap among these areas):
  • enhancing inter-agency relationships;
  • changing institutional policies and practices;
  • organising, increasing access to and improving service delivery; and
  • raising awareness and commitment to victim/survivor rights.

Approaches may also include a focus on:

  • community mobilization/prevention; and
    • social support and economic empowerment of women and/or communities.
  • Coordinated responses are multi-disciplinary – they require active participation by a range of stakeholders and agreement about the most effective way to combat violence against women.  Collaboration, communication and information exchange among agencies are essential elements (Worden, 2001). 
  • Coordinated responses usually involve a combination of the following:
  • a framework for multi-sectoral collaboration among agencies;
  • coordinating committees or bodies to monitor progress and develop policy at the national and sub-national levels;
  • coordination committee for local level responses comprised of intervening agencies and service providers;
  • mechanisms to manage, work with and sanction perpetrators;
  • services for victims/survivors, such as health, protection, shelter and advocacy support, including within the legal process; and
  • review of individual cases to identify successful practices and areas for improvement.
  • The body responsible for coordination may take the form of:
  • a women’s advocacy organization such as a shelter or crisis center (typically local level);
  • an independent body or specialist agency whose role is coordinating key sectors (typically local level);
  • a coalition of agencies who meet regularly, also known as a council, committee or task force (either national or local level); and
  • a high-level body, including ministers and/or executives of key institutions (typically national level).
  • Partnerships among local sectors and agencies are enhanced through the following means:
  • regular face-to-face meetings;
  • shared policies and protocols developed by key agencies;
  • joint planning of activities and interventions;
  • joint training of staff in partner organisations/sectors;
  • sharing information about victims/survivors and perpetrators, while respecting privacy rights and  ensuring safety; and
  • ongoing data collection to monitor case progress and outcomes, and to highlight good and poor practice.

Despite nuances in approaches, structures and participants, the common aim is to provide a coherent collective response that ensures the safety and security of victims/survivors, and the accountability of perpetrators through a unified system of supports and sanctions. 

The following components are useful in a coordinated response, but the exact configuration will vary from one context to another depending on social, political, economic and cultural conditions, national and local policy environments, the forms of violence against women that are most prevalent, and available resources, actors and capacities. For humanitarian contexts, coordination is very well articulated within international guidelines and forms a core part of the response.

A coordinated response involves the justice sector, police, health and social services (e.g. crisis hotlines and safe accommodation). Additional sectors that may be incorporated into a coordinated response include education, women’s empowerment, clergy, media, employers, government and legal reform programmes.  For detailed information on those aspects, see the other modules on the Virtual Knowledge Centre.

Each component on its own is highly complex and the roles of the actors may vary greatly from one setting to another and depending on whether the aim is to address one form of violence or many.   Coordinated responses to intimate partner violence often have criminal justice approaches at their centre - such as proactive arrest, charge and/or prosecution of perpetrators, as well as perpetrator intervention programmes. Coordinated responses to sexual violence may focus on a comprehensive model of care for victims/survivors that brings together medical, forensic, crisis and psychosocial support with links to criminal justice processes.