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Aboriginal definition of family violence

The Victorian Indigenous Family Violence Task Force defined family violence in the context of Aboriginal communities as ‘an issue focused around a wide range of physical, emotional, sexual, social, spiritual, cultural, psychological and economic abuses that occur within families, intimate relationships, extended families, kinship networks and communities. It extends to one-on-one fighting, abuse of Indigenous community workers as well as self-harm, injury and suicide.’ The definition also acknowledges the spiritual and cultural perpetration of violence by non-Aboriginal people against Aboriginal partners which manifests as exclusion or isolation from Aboriginal culture and/or community.[49]

Adolescent who uses family violence

A young person who chooses to use coercive and controlling techniques and violence against family members, including intimate partners. Adolescents who use family violence often coexist as victims of family violence and therapeutic responses should be explored.

At-risk age group

An age group that has been identified, through evidence, as being at a higher risk of experiencing or being exposed to family violence, due to their developmental stage, dependency on others or their experiencing a period of transition between dependence and independence, or vice versa. All children are vulnerable to experience or exposure to family violence, and some children may be more vulnerable.

Infants are an at-risk age group as they are more likely to be present when family violence is occurring, as compared with all other age groups and are totally dependent on adult care to meet their needs. Risk and vulnerability diminish with increasing age of children.

Adolescence, however, is also considered an at-risk age group as young people transition from dependence to independence, and if experiencing family violence in their family of origin, they are also at increased risk of experiencing violence in their intimate relationships.

Older people are also recognised as an at-risk age group as at some stage they may experience ageism, and/or a period of transition from independence to dependence, and become more marginalised or devalued. In addition, their social and community connections can diminish over time and these factors can result in increased vulnerability to mistreatment and abuse.


Has the meaning set out in section 4 of the FVPA, being a person who is under the age of 18 years (which includes infants and adolescents).


People whose gender identity is in line with the social expectations of their sex assigned at birth; i.e. those who are not transgender


Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic)

Commonwealth Privacy Act

Privacy Act 1988 (Cth)

Culturally safe responses

To practice in a culturally safe way means to carry out practice in collaboration with the service user, with care and insight for their culture, while being mindful of one’s own. A culturally safe environment is one where people feel safe and where there is no challenge or need for the denial of their identity.

Diverse communities

Diverse communities include the following groups:

diverse cultural, linguistic and faith communities; people with a disability; people experiencing mental health issues; lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse, intersex and queer/questioning (LGBTIQ) people; women in or exiting prison or forensic institutions; people who work in the sex industry; people living in regional, remote and rural communities; male victims; older people and young people (12–25 years of age).


An older person, as defined below.

In Aboriginal communities, Aboriginal Elders hold valued positions and are recognised for their strong leadership, wisdom, expertise and contributions they make in the Aboriginal community.

Elder abuse

Is any harm or mistreatment of an older person that is committed by someone with whom the older person has a relationship of trust. In the context of family violence, this may be elder abuse by any person who is a family member (such as their partner or adult children) or carer. Elder abuse may take any of the forms defined under ‘family violence’.

Family violence

Has the meaning set out in section 5 of the FVPA which is summarised here as any behaviour that occurs in family, domestic or intimate relationships that is physically or sexually abusive; emotionally or psychologically abusive; economically abusive; threatening or coercive, or is in any other way controlling that causes a person to live in fear for their safety or wellbeing or that of another person.

In relation to children, family violence is also defined as behaviour by any person that causes a child to hear or witness or otherwise be exposed to the effects of the above behaviour.

This definition includes violence within a broader family context, such as extended families, kinship networks and communities.

Family violence assessment purpose

Has the meaning set out in s 144A of the FVPA being, the purpose of establishing or assessing the risk of a person committing family violence or a person being subjected to family violence.

Family violence protection purpose

As defined in the FVPA to mean the purpose of managing a risk of a person committing family violence (including the ongoing assessment of the risk of the person committing family violence) or a person being subjected to family violence (including the ongoing assessment of the risk of the person being subjected to family violence).


Freedom of Information Act 1982.


The Family Violence Risk Assessment and Risk Management Framework approved by the relevant Minister under section 189 of the FVPA.

Framework organisation

An organisation prescribed by regulation to be a Framework organisation for the purposes of Part 11 of the FVPA and required to align their policies, procedures, practice guidance and tools to it. References in this document to framework organisations include section 191 agencies.


Family Violence Protection Act 2008.


The Family Violence Information Sharing Guidelines issued by a Minister under section 144P of the FVPA.

Imminence of risk

Likelihood of risk of harm or death escalating immediately or within a short timeframe.


Refers to the structural inequality and discrimination experienced by different individuals and communities, and the impact of these creating barriers to service access and further marginalisation. Intersectionality is the complex, cumulative way in which the effects of multiple forms of identity-based structural inequality and discrimination (such as racism, sexism, ableism and classism) combine, overlap or intersect, in the experiences of individuals or communities.[50] These aspects of identity can include gender, ethnicity and cultural background, language, socio-economic status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, geographic location or visa status.


Information sharing entity as defined in the FVPA to be a person or body prescribed, or a class of person or body prescribed, to be an information sharing entity.


Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Gender Diverse, Intersex and Queer/Questioning.

MARAM Framework

The Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management Framework (this document)


Where a victim of family violence is named or categorised as a perpetrator (or respondent in criminal proceedings) for their use of self-defence, violent resistance, or as a form of defence of another family member, or where they are identified based on a misinterpretation of their presentation due to the impact of experience of violence, mental health issues, influence of alcohol or other drugs, aggression toward policy or initiation of police contact.

Older people

Any person who is aged 60 or older, any Aboriginal Victorian aged 45or older.


Has the same meaning as the words “a person of concern” in s 144B of the FVPA. The FVPA provides an individual is a person of concern if an information sharing entity reasonably believes that there is a risk that they may commit family violence. This will have been identified by undertaking a Framework based family violence risk assessment.

Perpetrator accountability

The process by which the perpetrator themselves acknowledge and take responsibility for their choices to use family violence and work to change their behaviour.

It sits with all practitioners, organisations and systems through their collective, consistent response to promote perpetrators capacity to take responsibility for their actions and impacts, through formal or informal services response mechanisms.

Predominant aggressor

The term predominant aggressor seeks to assist in identifying the actual perpetrator in the relationship, by distinguishing their history and pattern of coercion, power and controlling behaviour, from a victim who may have utilised self-defence or violent resistance in an incident or series of incidents. The predominant aggressor is the perpetrator who is using violence and control to exercise general, coercive control over their partner or family member, and for whom, once they have been violent, particularly use of physical or sexual violence, all of their other actions take on the threat of violence.

Protection entity

A prescribed information sharing entity that is authorised to request information for a family violence protection purpose.


Queer is an umbrella term used by some people to describe non-conforming gender identities and sexual orientations. Queer includes people who are questioning their gender identity and sexual orientation

Reasonable belief threshold

A reasonable belief requires the existence of facts that are sufficient to induce the belief in a reasonable person. Belief requires something more than suspicion.[51]


The Family Violence Protection (Information Sharing and Risk Management) Regulations 2018

Risk assessment

The process of applying structured professional judgement to determine the level of family violence

Risk assessment entity

Has the same meaning as set out in the FVPA, being an information sharing entity that is prescribed to belong to the category of a risk assessment entity. Risk assessment entities can request and voluntarily receive information from ISEs for a family violence assessment purpose.

Risk identification

Recognising through observation or enquiry that family violence risk factors are present, and then taking appropriate actions to refer or manage the risk.

Risk factors

Evidence-based factors that are associated with the likelihood of family violence occurring or the severity of the risk of family violence.

Risk management

Any action or intervention taken to reduce the level of risk posed to a victim and hold perpetrators to account. Actions taken and interventions that are implemented appropriate to the level of risk identified in the risk assessment stage.

Routine screening

The use of family violence specific screening questions, asked of all individuals engaged with a service in the intake/screening/initial consultation phase.

Safety planning

Process of implementing a strategy or identifying steps to be taken, subject to timelines agreed with relevant parties, to reduce the likelihood of further family violence occurring and ensure safety for the victim/s.


The use of questions to explore the possibility of family violence being present, due to concerns through observation or other assessment.

Section 191 agency

Has the same meaning as section 188 of the FVPA being, an agency that a public service body or public entity enters into or renews a state contract or other contract or agreement with in accordance with section 191 and that provides services under that contract or agreement that are relevant to family violence risk assessment or family violence risk management. References in this document to Framework organisations include section 191 agencies.

Serious risk

Risk factors associated with the increased likelihood of the victim survivor being killed or nearly killed.


Provision of a specific support or providing a formalised level of assistance, which is of benefit to individuals in the community.

Service provider

Businesses, organisations, or other professional groups which provide a service or range of services, to the benefit of individuals in the community.

Seriousness of risk

The level of risk assessed to be present, indicating the likelihood that the victim/s will be seriously harmed, killed, or be subjected to an escalation of the family violence perpetrated against them.

The Commission

Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence.

Third party

Has the same meaning as the words “a linked person” in section 144A of the FVPA, being any person whose confidential information is relevant to a family violence assessment purpose or family violence protection purpose other than a person who is a primary person (i.e. the victim survivor), a person of concern (i.e. the perpetrator) or is alleged to pose a risk of family violence (i.e. alleged perpetrator).


People whose gender identity differs from the social expectations of their sex assigned at birth, that is, a person who is not cis-gender

Victim Survivor

Has the same meaning as the words “a primary person (adult or child) in the FVPA. The FVPA provides a person is a primary person if an information sharing entity reasonably believes there is risk that the person may be subjected to family violence.

[49] State of Victoria, Strong Culture, Strong Peoples, Strong Families: Towards a safer future for Indigenous families and communities — 10 year plan, Second Edition, 2008.

[50] Adapted from Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of intersectionality.

[51] See George v Rockett (1990) 170 CLR 104.