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Executive Summary

Executive summary

The Royal Commission into Family Violence (the Commission) delivered its report in March 2016, with 227 recommendations. The Commission recommended the review and redevelopment of the Family Violence Risk Assessment and Risk Management Framework (the Framework), and to embed it into the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic) (the FVPA).

More than 1300 stakeholders from the public, private and non-government sector contributed to the Framework’s redevelopment, including specialists from family violence, child and family services, health, community services, justice and education professionals. The redevelopment has also been informed by a range of related reviews. The new Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management Framework (the MARAM Framework) (this document), aims to address gaps identified by the Commission.

The MARAM Framework can be used by all services that come into contact with individuals and families experiencing family violence. The MARAM Framework aims to establish a system-wide shared understanding of family violence. It will guide professionals across the continuum of service responses, across the range of presentations and spectrum of risk. It will provide information and resources that professionals need to keep victim survivors safe, and to keep perpetrators in view and hold them accountable for their actions.

It covers all aspects of service delivery from early identification, screening, risk assessment and management, to safety planning, collaborative practice, stabilisation and recovery. The MARAM Framework provides policy guidance to organisations that have responsibilities in assessing and managing family violence risk, including those that have been prescribed under regulation as Framework organisations.

The objectives of the MARAM Framework are to:

  • increase the safety of people experiencing family violence
  • ensure the broad range of experiences across the spectrum of seriousness and presentations of risk are represented, including for Aboriginal and diverse communities, children, young people and older people, across identities, and family and relationships types
  • keep perpetrators in view and to hold them accountable for their actions and behaviours
  • guide alignment with the Framework for use across a broader range of organisations and sectors who will have responsibilities to identify, assess and respond to family violence risk
  • ensure consistent use of the Framework across these organisations and sectors.

The Framework has been established in Part 11 of the FVPA. It creates the system architecture and accountability mechanisms required to establish a system-wide approach to and shared responsibility for family violence risk assessment and management. This is achieved by incorporating the Framework and accompanying principles and pillars into law, regulation, policy (through this MARAM Framework) and supporting materials and practice guides.

Structure of the MARAM Framework

Part A provides an introduction, overview of family violence reform in Victoria and the current reform program, as well as advice on the MARAM Framework’s structure and use of terminology. It also outlines the Framework Principles that support organisations in their implementation of the Framework, as well as information supporting a shared understanding of the risk, experience and impact of family violence. A shared understanding also covers the particular experiences, structural inequalities and barriers experienced by Aboriginal and diverse communities and at-risk age groups, including children and young people, and older people.

Part B outlines the system architecture and accountability for the Framework through information on the Framework legislation, including requirements for reporting and review, and the policy and practice environments.

Part C is structured against the Framework’s conceptual ‘pillars’ of a ‘shared understanding of family violence’, ‘consistent and collaborative practice’, ‘responsibilities for family violence risk assessment and management’, and ‘systems, outcomes and continuous improvement’.

Each pillar reflects a Framework requirement. Together, the set of principles in Part A, and ‘Framework requirements’ are designed to guide relevant organisations and agencies as they align their policies, procedures, practice guidance and tools to the Framework.

The pillars are set at the organisation level and are designed to build knowledge and skill and support an effective and integrated system-wide response to family violence in Victoria

Summary of each pillar

Pillar 1: Shared understanding of family violence

Provides information on what constitutes family violence, recognition of the underlying drivers of family violence and the link between community attitudes, particularly towards gender, intersecting historical, social and structural inequality and the prevalence and impact of family violence on women and children. The evidence-base including family violence risk factors, particularly those that relate to increased likelihood and severity of family violence is also detailed. It also sets out common perpetrator actions and behaviours and informs a shared responsibility to keep perpetrators in view and accountable for their actions and behaviours.

Pillar 2: Consistent and collaborative practice

Describes the approach to assessing seriousness of risk through structured professional judgement, which comprises a victim survivor’s self-assessed level of risk, assessment against evidence-based risk factors (using the appropriate tool to the organisations’ role), information sharing to inform assessment and professional judgement.

It outlines the use of identification, screening and risk assessment approaches, including perpetrator behaviour assessment, through a description of the tools that are developed from the evidence based risk factors. Each of these assessment approaches will be made available through supporting resources.

The pillar also describes the continuum of risk management responses for both victim survivors and perpetrators of violence.

Pillar 3: Responsibilities for risk assessment and management

Describes the responsibilities relating to facilitating family violence risk assessment and management, as well as advice on how professionals and organisations define their responsibilities to support consistency of practice across the service system, and expectations between organisations, professionals and service users.

Pillar 4: Systems, outcomes and continuous improvement

Supports organisational leaders and governance bodies to contribute to, and engage with, system-wide data collection, monitoring and evaluation of tools, processes and implementation. This pillar also describes how aggregated data will support better understanding of service user outcomes and systemic practice issues, to support continuous practice improvement.

This information will also inform the requirement of the responsible Minister for the Framework, and operation of the FVPA, to be reviewed up to every five years, to ensure it continues to reflect evidence-based best practice.

Supporting resources

Operational practice guidance on risk assessment and management, as well as toolkits and resources to support embedding into organisations policies, procedures and practice, is provided in supporting resources.