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MARAM and Information Sharing

A shared approach to risk assessment and information sharing

Building momentum

The Royal Commission identified that organisations working with victim survivors and perpetrators were failing to share information and to identify, assess and manage risk effectively. This was compromising the safety of victim survivors and not keeping perpetrators accountable for their actions.

In response, we legislated the new Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management Framework, known as MARAM, and the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (FVISS).

The Child Information Sharing Scheme (CISS) was also introduced following numerous independent reviews and inquiries. It promotes shared responsibility for children’s wellbeing and safety and increasing collaboration across the service system.

Phased rollout

MARAM and the two information schemes are being rolled out in two phases:

  • Phase One: Commenced 2018 across 850 organisations, covering approximately 37,500 professionals.
  • Phase Two: Commencing April 2021 across 5,800 government and non-government organisations, covering approximately 370,000 additional professionals.

Phase One organisations

Phase Two organisations

What will this approach achieve?

The aim of MARAM is to ensure that people affected by, experiencing or using family violence are provided with an appropriate, consistent and capable response no matter where or how they engage with services.

MARAM aims to establish a system-wide shared understanding of what family violence is, and how to respond to it. By improving knowledge across all services of how family violence can impact people from different backgrounds and at different stages of life we can ensure that people get the help they need.

There is no one experience of family violence. MARAM recognises that each person's experience of family violence is shaped and influenced by multiple factors that may require specialised responses.

MARAM provides guidance on how to work with different groups of people and communities such as Aboriginal and culturally, linguistically and faith diverse communities; children, young people and older people; people with disabilities and LGBTIQ+ people, so that we understand how family violence affects them and how services might need to be tailored.

Understanding MARAM and information sharing

MARAM
  • provides a comprehensive definition of family violence and supports workers to identify and assess family violence risk
  • applies to a prescribed list of organisations and workforces across the services system including specialist family violence services, child protection, maternal child health nurses, courts and Victoria Police
  • sets out the responsibilities of these workforces when they come into contact with individuals and families experiencing family violence
FVISS
  • enables risk relevant information about victim survivors, perpetrators, alleged perpetrators and other people involved in family violence to be collected, used and shared between authorised workforces
CISS
  • allows for broadly the same set of prescribed services and organisations to share information to promote the wellbeing or safety of children

This video highlights the reasons for the three schemes and how together they will benefit the wider service system and the lives of Victorians.

Helping end family violence - the Information Sharing Schemes and MARAM

Supporting organisations to implement the schemes

Relevant organisations are required to change how they work and make sure their policies and procedures align with MARAM, and comply with the requirements of FVISS and CISS.

Tools, practice guides, training and grants are being provided to organisations and staff to support change management and help them implement the schemes.

MARAM promotes collaboration between workforces who deal with family violence, through a shared understanding of family violence and supported by effective sharing of information between government and non-government organisations and agencies that intersect with family violence.

MARAM and the information schemes have been developed to be adaptable, as we learn more through research and evaluation or as circumstances change. For example, additional material has been prepared for workers and organisations in response to changed conditions under coronavirus (COVID-19).

In recognition of the size of the workforces, implementation is being rolled out in a way which recognises it will take time for organisations to change and for sufficient workers to be trained and use MARAM.

It is a big task but each step counts. As each new health, community services, justice and education worker is trained and puts the training into practice, we are building a system or ‘web’ across the community with workers who can recognise family violence and offer help.

During consultation, a family violence sector worker shared what MARAM and information sharing is – and what it does:

MARAM gives us the tools to identify, assess and manage family violence risk. FVISS is the mechanism to share relevant family violence risk information. Training tells us what is relevant risk information. If the scheme is working well, there's little risk of important information not being shared.

Engage Victoria survey stakeholder response
August 2020

Children and young people under MARAM

MARAM recognises children and young people as victim survivors of family violence in their own right.

It is a core principle of MARAM that children and young people who are victim survivors of family violence have a voice and should be heard. This recognises that children are present in one third of family violence incidents in Victoria.

MARAM recognises risk factors caused by perpetrator’s behaviour which are specific to children. For example, perpetrators often engage in behaviours that damage the relationship between a mother and her child or children.

Tactics that undermine confidence in parenting and undermine the child-parent relationship can have long-term effects on the psychological, developmental and emotional wellbeing of the children.

This video explains how the MARAM Framework has been developed to consider the needs of children and young people as victim survivors.

Children and young people under MARAM

Progress since 2016

The key MARAM and information sharing activities which have been delivered since the Royal Commission are grouped here into four areas.

  1. We’ve developed a structure that includes new family violence risk assessment and management responsibilities across the service system. Key actions have been:

    • amendment to the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 to require relevant organisations to align with MARAM and participate in the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme
    • the development of new resources, tools and practice guidance for organisations to help embed the new risk assessment and management responsibilities into their operations

    Central Information Point

    We have established the Central Information Point (CIP), bringing together critical information about perpetrators from Victoria Police, the Magistrates’ and Children’s Courts, Corrections Victoria and Child Protection.

    The CIP is one of the key recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

    The information gathered is provided in a single report to professionals, supporting informed and timely risk assessment and safety planning, keeping perpetrators in view and accountable.

    The CIP is operating in The Orange Door network.

    CIP reports are used to:

    • assess and manage the risk of a person who uses family violence
    • help services keep the person in view and hold them accountable
    • keep people safe

    CASE STUDY - Family violence sector worker

    The victim survivor told me a few things that raised some flags for me and so I requested a CIP report. It was unbelievable what came back. Not only did he have a whole lot of prior offending, 5 years back Child Protection had made a case note when one of his kids from a previous relationship described a family violence incident. Charges were never laid. But it was enough for us to know that he could be extremely dangerous – her life could be in imminent risk.

  2. The first phase of MARAM and information sharing was launched in September 2018 across 850 Victorian organisations and services including police, courts, family violence services, child protection, mental health and alcohol and drug services.

    To date more than 22,000 workers have been trained in MARAM and the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme.

    We are embedding MARAM and information sharing across the system through funding specialised change management positions in relevant sectors, including:

    • Department of Health and Human Services
    • Department of Justice and Community Safety
    • Department of Education and Training
    • Magistrates’ Court of Victoria and Children’s Court of Victoria to embed MARAM in relevant jurisdictions

    The MARAM Organisational Embedding Guide was released in 2020 to support organisational leaders to align to MARAM. The guide includes specific key actions and activities to help leaders determine responsibilities for staff across their organisation.

    A range of peak bodies and other entities have received funding to embed MARAM and information sharing through the MARAM Sector Grants program.

    Victoria Police’s family violence response model is underpinned by a new risk assessment and management tool that reflects the evidence-based family violence risk factors within the MARAM Framework.

    MARAM screening and risk assessment questions have been embedded into hospitals and health services data systems, noting hospitals will be prescribed in Phase Two of MARAM.

    CASE STUDY - Magistrates Court

    A court registrar referred a woman from a culturally and linguistically diverse background who presented as anxious to a Court Network volunteer for emotional support in a police-initiated family violence matter being heard at the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria.

    The volunteer was able to facilitate access to a quiet room to talk to the women about her immediate concerns and complete a screening and identification MARAM assessment via an interpreter that indicated that family violence was occurring, and that an immediate response was required.

    The volunteer facilitated a referral to a legal service and specialist family violence service that supported her to access high security refuge.

  3. Delivery of MARAM and information sharing training moved online because of COVID-19 and social restrictions. This has enabled us to increase training availability across the workforce and has made training accessible to more workers, especially in regional and rural areas.

    Online MARAM training is tailored to different workers:

    • MARAM Comprehensive for new workers in the specialist family violence sector
    • MARAM Renewing Practice for existing specialist family violence workers who have previously completed the Common Risk Assessment Framework level 3 training and need to know what has changed
    • MARAM Leading Alignment for organisational leaders across all organisations under Phase One
    • MARAM Collaborative Practice for professionals from any workforce wanting to understand the foundational aspects of MARAM and how to collaborate to manage risk

    While information sharing training has been available online in some form since 2018, the movement to wide-scale online MARAM training has maintained momentum during COVID-19.

    Broadening access to online MARAM training will help with the rollout of the second phase of MARAM by providing more opportunities for workers from a range of different sectors to attend training.

    The VET unit targets workers in universal services to be prescribed under Phase Two of the reforms

    Activities
    An accredited Vocational Education and Training (VET) unit of competency in identifying and responding to family violence has been developed and commenced in July 2020 July 2020 FSV
  4. Through regular evaluation of MARAM, we are building a valuable evidence base which will help us as we continue to implement MARAM. These evaluations include:

    • implementation has been broadly effective, particularly around the evidence of increased sharing of perpetrator information
    • lessons have been learnt that can be used to improve implementation of Phase Two, such as continued investment in change management and tailored workforce training

    The first MARAM annual report (2018-19) on implementation of the framework was tabled in Parliament by the Minister for Prevention of Family Violence February 2020
    A review of the first two years of MARAM implementation found that more tailored sector-specific guidance would help organisations to understand what MARAM means for their organisation and where they fit into the overall risk assessment and management system

    Accountability and monitoring of how organisations implement MARAM needs to be included at each level of governance of the family violence system
    June 2020

    The legislated 2-year review of the FVISS made 22 recommendations. It found:

    • implementation has been broadly effective, particularly around the evidence of increased sharing of perpetrator information
    • lessons have been learnt that can be used to improve implementation of Phase Two, such as continued investment in change management and tailored workforce training
    August 2020

Delivery to 2023

This overview of our planned MARAM and information sharing activities to 2023 is grouped into five areas:

  1. The second phase of MARAM and information sharing will start rolling out on 19 April 2021, expanding to include a further 5,800 organisations which cover 370,000 professionals.

    This means workers in primary and secondary schools, community-managed mental health and housing services, public health services and hospitals, refugee and migrant services and state-funded aged care services will use MARAM as part of their work.

    Preparatory work, including sector consultation, began in early 2020.

    Phase Two is targeted at those organisations that do not directly deal with family violence but may encounter it and need to know how to respond and refer victim survivors and perpetrators to appropriate specialist services.

  2. We are working with peak bodies and other stakeholders to ensure organisations understand what MARAM means for them and how they can work across the social services system to consistently manage risk. Initiatives include:

    • the annual Sector Grants program started in 2019 which provides support to services prescribed under MARAM
    • a maturity model which will support services to align over time with MARAM and provide a way to measure and track progress
    • continuing to deliver tools and practice guidance to support workforces to understand, apply and standardise MARAM

    Other key actions: 

    Activities
    Adolescent focused MARAM practice guides for release Early 2021 FSV
    MARAM annual reports tabled in Parliament Commencing 2021 FSV
  3. A sustainable approach to workforce development underpins the success of MARAM implementation.

    Future MARAM training strategies will:

    • allow larger numbers of workers to access quality training
    • ensure the availability of accredited training options appropriate for all workforces
    • maximise use of online and hybrid (online plus in-person) training models
    • create a centralised bank of quality and tailored training resources
    • explore avenues to embed MARAM training in pre-service qualifications

    This approach will provide consistency of training quality and clarity for workers and organisations to understand their obligations under MARAM. Both are areas of concern raised during consultation.

    Activities
    We are introducing accredited MARAM training through the tertiary education system

    Providers will be encouraged to offer delivery models which recognise the training needs of different workforces

    • Course commences in Identifying and responding to family violence (August 2020)
    • All accredited courses being delivered cover all levels of MARAM responsibility from identifying and responding through to comprehensive risk assessment and management (2021)
    2021 FSV
  4. Practice guidance helps organisations embed the new risk assessment and management responsibilities into their operations.

    Tailored guidance for professionals engaging with perpetrators will ensure a common understanding of perpetrator presentations and an awareness of the risks that perpetrators pose to victim survivors.

    Specific practice guidance for working with people who use violence has been in development through 2020 to embed a focus on perpetrators in family violence risk management.

    The guidance will further support practitioners:

    • in homelessness, mental health, and alcohol and drugs services
    • services specialising in working with perpetrators, such as men's behaviour change programs

    Activities
    Release of MARAM practice guides focused on how to respond to perpetrators of family violence (for practitioners outside specialist family violence perpetrator services) Late 2020 FSV
    Release of MARAM practice guides focused on how to respond to perpetrators of family violence (for specialist services) Early 2021 FSV
  5. Continuing evaluations are important to drive effective collection of data and to know where we need to focus improvement. The information gathered from reviews and evaluations will inform future MARAM implementation and delivery.

    Activities
    MARAM and FVISS 5-year review commences

    CIP 5-year review commences
    Early 2022 FSV
    MARAM and FVISS 5-year review scheduled for tabling in Parliament

    CIP 5-year review scheduled for tabling in Parliament
    August 2023 FSV

Connecting MARAM and information sharing across the reform

The ongoing delivery of connected reform activity is contributing to growing the reach and strength of our risk assessment and management and information sharing. For example:

  • workforce capability and capacity-building is aligned to the implementation of MARAM
  • competency in applying MARAM and information sharing policies, procedures, practice guidance and tools is a key deliverable in the industry plan for workforce development
  • when fully implemented our risk assessment and management frameworks will support collaboration and consistency across the specialist family violence workforce and the workforces that intersect - in community services, health, justice and education
  • the reforms improve shared understanding of the structural inequalities and barriers experienced by Aboriginal and diverse communities and at-risk age groups

This connected delivery will continue to contribute to better outcomes for victim survivors.

Reform-wide priorities

Activities to delivered MARAM and information sharing are informed by our reform-wide priorities of intersectionality, Aboriginal self-determination and lived experience.

Intersectionality

Intersectionality is embedded as a core principle of MARAM. It recognises that social categorisations – such as gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, language, religion, class, socioeconomic status, gender identity, ability or age – can intersect in a way which compounds discrimination or disadvantage for either an individual or group.

Under MARAM:

  • Family violence practitioners consider intersectionality as one of four key components of their structured professional judgement.
  • Guidance on reflective practice and unconscious bias are included in the MARAM Foundation Knowledge Guide.
  • The Intersectionality Capacity Building Project is developing specific tools to apply an intersectional lens in all family violence practice, building on MARAM Practice Guides.

Intersectionality Overview

Aboriginal self-determination

We acknowledge the ongoing leadership role of Aboriginal communities in addressing and preventing family violence, and will continue to work in collaboration with Aboriginal Victorians to eliminate family violence from all communities.

MARAM recognises:

  • broader Aboriginal definitions of family violence, including community violence
  • the need to reduce the disproportionate impact of family violence on Aboriginal people, particularly women and children
  • the need to continue to develop our evidence base to ensure effective and targeted responses for priority communities

Aboriginal engagement in developing and implementing the MARAM Framework

A range of Aboriginal stakeholders were consulted during the development of the MARAM Framework, including the risk assessment tools, practice guidance and training.

In addition to attendance at the Aboriginal Co-Design Forum and Dhelk Dja Partnership Forum, representatives of Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations were engaged directly on specific products.

The MARAMIS Expert Advisory Group includes Aboriginal community sector membership.

A range of Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations have been funded to lead implementation of MARAM and information sharing schemes within Aboriginal-specific services; a working group composed of these organisations provides ongoing input and advice on reform implementation and design.

Delivery of MARAM with Victoria's Aboriginal communities

Some examples within MARAM of improvements to service delivery for Aboriginal peoples and communities include:

  • MARAM assessment tools
    • include specific questions for people who identify as Aboriginal, which aims to improve the quality of risk assessment and safety planning for Aboriginal people
  • Cultural safety as a MARAM principle
    • Principle 7 of MARAM emphasises that services and responses provided to people from Aboriginal communities should be culturally responsive and safe
    • the principle recognises Aboriginal understanding of family violence and rights to self-determination and self-management
    • it takes account of their experiences of colonisation, systemic violence and discrimination and recognises the ongoing and present day impacts of historical events, policies and practices
    • the principle applies to improving the cultural capability of mainstream services as well as supporting Aboriginal people to access Aboriginal community controlled services where they choose to
  • MARAM Practice Guides
    • include specific guidance on risk management for Aboriginal people, including asking whether people wish to be referred to an Aboriginal-specific service
  • The Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (FVISS)
    • FVISS Ministerial Guidelines include specific guidance on sharing information about Aboriginal people
    • MARAM/FVISS implementation for Aboriginal services and communities is driven by the Dhelk Dja Aboriginal Family Violence Agreement

Aboriginal Self-Determination Overview

Lived experience

The Victim Survivors' Advisory Council was consulted during development of the MARAM Practice Guides.

Victim survivor self-assessment of risk is the first consideration in the MARAM structured professional judgement model.

Lived Experience Overview

Measuring outcomes

Family Violence Outcomes Framework

Delivering the activities for this priority area will likely have the greatest impact in achieving outcomes against the following domains:

Domains 2, 3 and 4

Domain 2, Victim survivors, vulnerable children and families are safe and supported to recover and thrive. Domain 3, Perpetrators are held accountable, connected and take responsibility for stopping their violence. Domain 4, Preventing and responding to family violence is systemic and enduring.
Domains 2, 3 and 4
Download Domains 2, 3 and 4

Royal Commission recommendations

The Victorian Government has committed to implement all 227 recommendations from the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

Of the recommendations still in progress, three relate to MARAM and information sharing.

Reviewed 09 December 2020

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