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What’s next and definitions

Organisations should provide information to professionals and services on the responsibilities that are applicable to their role.

What’s next?

Organisations should provide information to professionals and services on the responsibilities that are applicable to their role.

Professionals can use the appropriate chapters in the victim–survivor or perpetrator-focused MARAM Practice Guides, as appropriate to their role, to support their risk identification, assessment and management practice.

Definitions

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.[194]

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 the negative impacts of 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 and young people are vulnerable to the experience of, or exposure to family violence, and some children and young people 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.

Characteristics of person using violence linked to serious risk

Key behaviours and traits of a person using violence that indicate they are more likely to present a serious risk, including greater likelihood of escalated and severe family violence risk, can include levels of jealousy and hostility, violence directed towards general community as well as family members, pro-violence attitudes, limited capacity for empathy and remorse and low receptivity to system interventions. They generally have very low voluntary engagement with services and may actively avoid contact. Characteristics of the person posing serious risk of family violence, considered alongside the assessed pattern and history of coercive control, complex needs and circumstances, will inform the determination of level of risk and active and coordinated risk management intervention strategies.

Child

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).

Cisgender

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

Coercive control

Coercive control can be exerted through any combination of the evidence-based family violence risk factors. It is often demonstrated through patterned behaviours of emotional, financial abuse and isolation, stalking (including monitoring of technology), controlling behaviours, choking/strangulation, sexual and physical violence. The behaviour is intended to harm, punish, frighten, dominate, isolate, degrade, monitor or stalk, regulate and subordinate the victim survivor. One occurrence of family violence behaviour can create the dynamic of ongoing control, due to the threat of possible future family violence and the resultant ongoing fear, even if ‘high-risk’ behaviours do not re-occur. People using violence exert coercive control using a range of behaviours over time, and their effect is cumulative. Everyone experiencing family violence is experiencing coercive control.

Collusion

Refers to ways that an individual, agency or system might reinforce, excuse, minimise or deny a perpetrator’s violence towards family members and/or the extent or impact of that violence. Collusion can take many forms (verbal and non-verbal), it can be conscious or unconscious and it includes any action that has the effect of reinforcing the perpetrator’s violence-supportive narratives as well as their narratives about systems and services.

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.

CYFA

Children, Youth and Families Act 2005 (Vic)

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, transgender 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 to 25 years of age).

Elder

An older person, as defined below.

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

FOI Act

Freedom of Information Act 1982.

Framework

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.

FVPA

Family Violence Protection Act 2008.

Guidelines

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.

In view

To keep the person using violence visible to the service system. Actively monitoring changes to risk behaviours used and the coordination and collaboration of service providers to intervene in a timely way to reduce or remove risk and support safety. Keeping perpetrator’s risk in view holds them to account for their use of family violence and supports them to change their behaviour.

Intent

The purpose or aim for the person’s choice to use family violence. Intent is a significant predictor of whether a behaviour will occur. Understanding a person’s intent and end objective of their use of violence helps professionals to establish a picture of dynamic risk factors associated with beliefs and attitudes. Intent should be understood in the context of coercive control.

Intersectionality

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.[195] These aspects of identity can include gender, ethnicity and cultural background, language, socioeconomic status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, geographic location or visa status.

ISE

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.

LGBTIQ

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender diverse, intersex and queer/questioning.

MARAM Framework

The Family Violence Multi Agency Risk Assessment and Management Framework.

Misidentification

Where a victim survivor of family violence is named or categorised as a perpetrator (or respondent in criminal proceedings) for their use of self-defence or 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 violence, mental health issues, influence of alcohol or other drugs, aggression towards policy or initiation of police contact.

Needs

Refer to protective and stabilisation factors below.

Older people

Any person who is aged 65 or older, any Aboriginal Victorian aged 45 or older.

Perpetrator

Has the same meaning as the words ‘a person of concern’ in section 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 acknowledges and takes responsibility for their choices to use family violence and work to change their behaviour.

It sits with all professionals, 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.

Person in their context

This term refers to the practice of taking a holistic and comprehensive view of the perpetrator. It supports practitioners to form an understanding of the perpetrator’s history, experiences, circumstances, presenting needs, current environment and relationships in order to determine and assess aspects of their life that are contributing to their choice to use family violence risk behaviours. This includes developing an understanding of the person’s behaviours in context to their expressed values, beliefs, attitudes, and personality characteristics.

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 survivor who may have used force for the purpose of self-defence or violent resistance in an incident or series of incidents. The predominant aggressor is the perpetrator who is using violence and coercive control to dominate, intimidate or cause fear in 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.

Protective and stabilisation factors

Factors identified that, when strengthened, promote safety, stabilisation and recovery from family violence, such as intervention orders, housing stability and safety, health responses, support networks, financial resources and responding to wellbeing and needs. Protective factors are often referred to when professionals undertake needs assessment. When engaging with a person using violence, identifying and responding to these factors enables professionals to understand a ‘person in their context’. This lens supports targeted and tailored risk management responses to their use of violence. Where protective factors are strengthened, it may reduce the likelihood of continued use of some forms of family violence and increase capacity for behaviour change. Consideration of protective and stabilisation factors provides an understanding of contextual factors related to their use of violence, not a justification for it.

Queer

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.[196]

Regulations

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

Risk assessment

The process of applying the model of Structured Professional Judgement to determine the level of family violence risk.

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 presented 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.

Risk management includes supports or interventions that promote stabilisation and recovery from family violence for victim survivors.

Risk management includes responding to circumstances and presenting needs of perpetrators that reduce likelihood of use of related risk behaviours.

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

Safety planning involves a conversation by a professional who is working with an adult or child victim survivor, or a person using violence, about actions they can take to respond to family violence risk of the person using violence.

When working with a victim survivor, a safety plan documents strategies to help manage their own safety in the short to medium term; building on what the victim survivor is already doing and what works for their circumstances, to resist control, manage the impacts of the perpetrator’s behaviour and other actions aimed at keeping themselves safe.

When working with a perpetrator, safety plan assists them to take responsibility for recognising their needs and circumstances that relate to escalating family violence risk behaviours; stopping their use of risk behaviours against family members, including through de-escalation strategies; self-initiating engagement with professional services when their circumstances change or use of risk behaviours escalates (risk to victim survivors or risk to self (suicide or self-harm)).

Screening

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 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.

Service

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.

Systems abuse

People who use family violence may seek to manipulate actions or decisions of professionals in the system as a method to further coerce and control victim survivors. This can come in the form of vexatious applications to courts (which are particularly prevalent in family law proceedings) or malicious reports to statutory bodies such as police, health services, family services and Child Protection. People using violence may target the identity of a victim survivor to leverage structural inequality or barriers they experience as a form of systems abuse. Systems abuse can also lead to misidentification of people using family violence and victim survivor. Systems abuse should be considered in the context of broader understandings of coercive control – it is a strategy to maintain control over a victim survivor or cause further harm.

The Royal Commission

The 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 present a risk of family violence (i.e., alleged perpetrator).

Transgender

People whose gender identity differs from the social expectations of their sex assigned at birth. That is, a person who is not cisgender.

Victim stance

A person using violence may present a victim stance to reduce taking responsibility for their own behaviours, or deflect from admitting the harm they have caused. It often presents through minimising, denying, justifying or blame-shifting narratives. A person using violence may also highlight their past experiences of violence, trauma, or systems barriers when discussing the violence. This tactic invites professionals to collude with the person using violence and adopt beliefs about who is responsible or less responsible for the violence. This can result in misidentification of the person using violence and victim survivor. Presenting a victim stance enables a person using violence to minimise responsibility-taking by placing blame on their experiences as the ‘cause’ of their use of violence. It can be a tactic to deflect professionals' attention to factors outside the person using violence's control and cover up the choices they have made or continue to make.

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.

Women who use force

Is used to describe victim survivors who, in their intimate partner relationships, have used force in response to violence from a predominant aggressor/perpetrator. This can be identified through recognising the history and pattern of ongoing perpetration of violence against them.

Reviewed 21 July 2021

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