The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing MARAM and Information Sharing Week is an annual practice forum for practitioners working in family violence and related sectors. It aims to create awareness and understanding of the MARAM framework and information sharing schemes for practitioners who work with individuals, children, and families.
MARAM and Information Sharing Week 2023, involves of a series of themed packages of resources, including:
- Family violence, housing and homelessness
- Older people and family violence
- People who use family violence
- Family violence and children and young people
- Intersectionality in practice
The packages include MARAM, information sharing and collaborative practice information and resources, and reference Aboriginal-led resources and services.
Day 1: Housing and Homelessness
Family violence is the leading cause of homelessness for women and children in Victoria. People experiencing or using family violence are at a greater risk of insecure housing and/or homelessness. Practitioners may be supporting people who require safe and stable housing including children and young people, as well as supporting people who are continuing to face poverty from long term effects of family violence.
Some of the key issues for people experiencing family violence include having to flee family violence, property damage, lack of suitable and affordable housing, housing instability, unsafe housing, at-risk tenancies, homelessness and financial insecurity. Children and young people are further impacted by disruption to schooling, and disconnection from family, friends and community. They may also be forced to leave behind their belongings and miss toys and pets that they have had to leave when feeing family violence.
Practitioners working with individuals and families experiencing family violence require an inherent understanding of housing and homelessness, including approaches that consider holistic support needs of victim survivors to become safe and secure, and able to focus on healing and recovery.
Victim survivor safety and stability is also dependent on ensuring that suitable accommodation options and interventions are available to people who use family violence.
What is in this resource pack
In this list there are a number of resources that can support practitioners when working with people experiencing or using family violence.
You will find information and links to:
- Are You Safe At Home website
- The Consumer Affairs Victoria website and fact sheets
- Information about the Mens Accommodation and Counselling Service (MACS).
There are also two key reports that place a spotlight on women and young people’s experience of family violence, housing and homelessness.
Day 2: Older people and family violence
Family violence towards an older person is often described as elder abuse. elder abuse that is family violence experienced by older people within the family or family-like contexts including co-resident violence in residential care services and supported residential settings, as it is defined in the FVPA. (It does not extend to elder abuse from professional carers occurring outside the family context, such as in institutional or community settings.)
The person using family violence is someone that the victim survivor knows and trusts, such as a member of their family, their spouse or intimate partner, or a trusted friend. Elder abuse is most often intergenerational, with adult children most commonly being the person using violence. The parent-child relationship in this situation creates barriers for the older person to seek help, as they may feel that addressing the abuse will lead to the ruining of the relationship or losing access to grandchildren.
Elder abuse may be physical, social, financial, psychological, emotional, sexual and can include mistreatment and neglect. It can also present as short or long-term intimate partner violence, carer abuse or stress, and long-standing family conflict.
The victim survivor may experience controlling or abusive behaviours but may feel unclear about who to turn to for support. Neglect of a person’s care needs, including inadequate housing or food, under or over medicating, or abandoning the dependent person are all examples of elder abuse. Some older people may believe abusive behaviour is a normal part of relationships or of ageing or hold fears that if an abusive caregiver is removed, they will lose access to care, or will face an unchosen change in living circumstances.
Older people may be reluctant to report due to fear of the consequences (for example, retaliation, damaged relationships, premature entry into residential aged care, police involvement) and feelings of shame and guilt.
Like most family violence, power and control and gender inequality are still drivers of elder abuse. Elder abuse is also driven by ageism, and older men comprise a significant proportion of people who experience abuse. It is possible for men (or even women) to have been perpetrators of family violence in their past and become victims of elder abuse in their senior years.
Some intersectional factors that can heighten the risk of elder abuse include gender, cultural background, housing status, location, financial dependence, or financial position. The specific factors for elder abuse include, but are not limited to physical disability, cognitive impairment, neglect, dependency on the person using violence (physically, financially, socially, or emotionally) and social isolation or lack of social support. There is serious risk associated with plans to leave a relationship or partnership.
When working with families, consider the role of older people and any potential risks that may be present because of any decision-making or actions. When engaging directly with older people, ensure they feel heard and work with their preferences. Ensure safety planning is part of the intervention.
What is in this resource pack?
In this pack is a list of services that can support people working with older people experiencing elder abuse. This is not an exhaustive list, as there will be many professionals working with older people and addressing or mitigating elder abuse concerns.
This pack also includes several resources that may be beneficial to:
- professionals working with older people
- anyone looking to learn more about elder abuse prevention and response.
The resources include a video series produced by the Bendigo and District Aboriginal Cooperative that is designed to raise awareness about elder abuse in the community.
Day 3: People who use family violence
People who use family violence should be encouraged to acknowledge and take responsibility to end their violent, controlling, and coercive behaviour, and service responses should be collaborative and coordinated through a system-wide approach that collectively and systemically creates opportunities for their accountability.
Professionals across the service system have a role in keeping people using family violence engaged and in view of services, contributing to accountability for their use of family violence and supporting them to change their behaviour – whether directly or indirectly.
MARAM Practice Guides Foundation Knowledge Guide (2021)
The next phase of the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management (MARAM) Framework rollout will create greater understanding, visibility and accountability for people who use family violence. For individuals and organisations prescribed under the MARAM Framework, the MARAM adults using family violence guidance, tools and training are beginning to roll out across Victoria.
This phase is important for those working with people experiencing or using family violence to build knowledge and to support safe and effective family violence practice aligned to the MARAM Framework responsibilities. Although men’s specialist services have been working with men who use family violence for some time now, for other services in the family violence sector, practice change requires capability uplift in identifying, assessing and working with people who use family violence.
What is in this resource pack?
A feature of family violence perpetration is the use of coercive and controlling behaviours which may or may not include acts or threats of physical violence toward victim survivors. Links to the new Coercive Control National Principles, and associated information, animations and resources are provided below to assist practitioner and workforce identification and understanding of these behaviours when working with people experiencing or using family violence.
A recent project undertaken by South Eastern Community Links to spotlight the issue of financial abuse has resulted in a short explainer video that helps practitioners identify financial abuse, understand its impacts, seek and share information, support and refer victim survivors, including to financial counselling.
The Victoria Police Code of Practice for the Investigation of Family Violence guides police responses to family violence in Victoria. Below are links to the updated Code and specific reporting links when the person using family violence is a Victoria Police employee.
Accurately identifying the predominant aggressor, or person using family violence is a critical task for those identifying and assessing family violence risk. The Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor released a report that focused on the issue of misidentification and system supports and responses required of key workforces to address this issue. The report is included below.
Finally, there are links below to the MARAM role play video series – working with adults using family violence, to guide practitioners in how to use the MARAM Framework in practice when working with people using family violence.
Day 4: Children and young people
Children and young people experience family violence in their own right. The impacts of their experiences can be life-long and affect mental and physical health, education, attachment, relationships and socialisation. Despite these challenges it is also recognised that children and young people who experience family violence can demonstrate agency, resilience and have hope regarding their future.
Responses to children and young people experiencing family violence should be designed with them and consider risks and needs in accordance with each developmental age and stage. Engaging with children and young people directly in ways that are safe and meaningful for them is important to build trust and help them to feel heard and believed.
Young people who use family violence may have experienced or be experiencing family violence from an adult. They require a developmental approach and a whole-of-family response that works to support them and their family to experience safety and to have their unique needs met.
Upcoming MARAM guidance and tools
Dedicated MARAM guidance, tools and training will enable practitioners to better understand and support children and young people’s safety and wellbeing. In mid 2024 MARAM children and young people guidance and tools will be published, including guidance and tools for working with young people using family violence and harm. Training for workforces prescribed under MARAM will follow the release of the guidance and tools.
What is in this resource pack?
To highlight how the voices of children and young people are informing and guiding research findings and policy development, the Monash University I believe you report and webinar links are included below. A recent report by the Australian Institute of Family Studies highlights the prevalence of family violence in young people’s intimate relationships. Have a read of the report below to understand just how common and how concerning this issue is for our young people.
A link to the Adolescents using Family Violence (AFV) MARAM Practice Guidance Project 2022: Review of the Evidence Base report is included below. The RMIT report is a review of the evidence base in relation to tools currently used to assess adolescent violence in the home (AVITH), adolescent intimate partner or ‘dating’ violence and harmful sexual behaviours. There is also a link to the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare’s Adolescent Violence in the Home web page.
Emerging Minds develops mental health policy, interventions, training, programs and resources in response to the needs of professionals, children and their families. Emerging Minds partners with family members, national and international organisations to implement evidence-based practice into the Australian context. Resources are available via their website, including links to the whole child video series below.
In 2022 the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing was fortunate to have Natasha Anderson join a live webinar during MARAM and Information Sharing Week, for a discussion about her own lived experience of family violence, out of home, and the supports needed for children and young people. We are pleased to share a link below to her award nominated animation film, ‘TASH’. It was shown during the live webinar last year, and continues to be an important resource to support better understanding and responses to children and young people.
As technology is part of our everyday lives, sadly it is also a mechanism for people who use family violence to abuse and control others, including children and young people. To support children and young people at risk of, or experiencing technology-facilitated abuse, links are included below to eSafety resources for practitioners, children and young people to access directly.
Finally, we are pleased to share a link below to the Australian Childhood Maltreatment Study (ACMS) which is a landmark Australian study of the prevalence of child maltreatment. The data captures how many Australians have experienced each of five types of child maltreatment (physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, and exposure to domestic violence). The findings can be used to inform policy and practice reforms to reduce child abuse and neglect in Australia.
Day 5: Intersectionality in practice
Intersectionality describes how systems and structures interact on multiple levels to oppress, create barriers and overlapping forms of discrimination, stigma and power imbalances based on characteristics such as Aboriginality, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, colour, nationality, refugee or asylum seeker background, migration or visa status, language, religion, ability, age, mental health, socioeconomic status, housing status, geographic location, medical record or criminal record. This compounds the risk of experiencing family violence, and creates additional barriers for a person to access the help they need.
In practice this means professionals must consider any additional risks that a person, family or community may experience, and recognise and respond to additional needs and adaptations for those with intersecting needs to address the risks and barriers that may be present when trying to access or engage in a service response.
Both people experiencing or using family violence may experience intersecting forms of power and privilege, or discrimination and disadvantage. Inclusive practice can empower people, provide access to opportunity, address structural inequalities, tackle unconscious bias and develop a culture of inclusion within organisations.
Access to information, resources and collaborative practice networks can support practitioners to build understanding and capability in intersectional practice.
What is in this resource pack?
A selection of resources and web links have been provided to support practitioners to understand and apply an intersectional lens when working with people from diverse communities. The resources include links to:
- Everybody Matters: Inclusion and Equity Statement
- MARAM animation video about intersectionality and family violence
- ANROWS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led research
- Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare intersectionality webinars and tip sheets, and MARAM & Information Sharing Resource Hub
- Safe and Equal information and contact details for each of the family violence Regional Integration Committees and Principal Strategic Advisors.