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Multi-Agency Risk and Management Framework (MARAM)

Risk assessment, in a family violence context, is defined as the process that frontline professionals engage in to assess the likelihood of future harm or death based on information related to past acts of family violence.

It is a complex, comprehensive, ongoing and dynamic process that should inform everything from screening to response and ongoing management of family violence.8

The Royal Commission recognised the significance of risk assessment by directing its first three recommendations at the risk assessment process, as well as concluding that:9

Assessing the risk that a person is being subjected to family violence and then appropriately managing that risk, underpins all efforts to uphold safety for victims of family violence and to hold perpetrators of family violence to account.

Since 2007 Victoria has had a Comm on Risk Assessment Framework (CRAF) to guide organisations and practitioners engaging in family violence risk assessment. While it is recognised as a world-leading framework, several reviews, including the Coronial inquest into the Death of Luke Geoffrey Batty and the 2012 Victorian Systemic Review of Family Violence Deaths highlighted significant issues and limitations of CRAF.

Improving risk assessment and management practice is a key focus of the family violence reform work in Victoria. As well as the first three recommendations made by the Royal Commission, there are a further 20 recommendations that relate to either risk management or the closely-related matter of information sharing.

The Royal Commission also put information sharing high on the agenda by concluding that:10

Sharing information about risk within and between organisations is crucial to keep victims safe. It is necessary for assessing risk to a victim’s safety, preventing or reducing the risk of further harm, and keeping perpetrators ‘in view’ and accountable.

In 2016 a review of CRAF concluded that it was not achieving its intended purpose to increase collaboration between those organisations working with victim survivors and those working with perpetrators. The risk assessments enabled by CRAF were based solely on information from the victim survivor and did not separately assess information relating to the perpetrator or to children. This led to the assessments not being as accurate or comprehensive as they should be.

The review also found that CRAF was:

  • rarely being used outside the specialist family violence service sector
  • heavily focused on intimate partner violence between heterosexual couples with no inclusion of risk factors for diverse communities or LGBTIQ relationships, nor broader forms of family violence such as elder abuse or child abuse
  • missing content about perpetrator behaviours or ways to get information about them, such as relevant criminal history, treatment orders etc.

The review of CRAF made 27 recommendations aimed at addressing these and other issues in order to enhance its usability by a wider range of organisations and workforces.

FSV has subsequently led the development of MARAM, which is much more than a redesigned risk assessment tool – it is a suite of policy, practice tools, training, legislation, regulation and formal reviews that aims to change both the practice and culture around how professionals and organisations respond to family violence. It is an important feature of MARAM that it applies an intersectional lens to support diversity and inclusion in family violence practice.

MARAM has the potential to greatly improve the response that both victim survivors and perpetrators receive. By upskilling and resourcing a wider range of practitioners in risk assessment, family violence can be identified earlier, and responses can be more efficient and effective.


The Royal Commission recommended that MARAM be legislated within the Family Violence Protection Act 2008. The new Part 11 of the Act was added in 2017 and commenced in February 2018. The legislation enabled the Minister for Prevention of Family Violence to approve MARAM, giving it legislative force. Prescribed organisations (described as information sharing and/or risk assessment entities) are required to align their relevant policies, procedures, practice guidance and tools with MARAM.

All Ministers who have prescribed organisations within their portfolios must report annually on their progress with implementing MARAM to the Minister for Prevention of Family Violence who is then required to prepare a consolidated annual report and table it in Parliament every year on the sixth sitting day of the year (generally in February or March).

The Minister’s annual report to Parliament must include:

  • actions taken by departments and agencies to support prescribed organisations in implementation and operation of the framework
  • a summary of progress of implementation of MARAM by prescribed organisations and departments/agencies11
  • proposed future actions to support ongoing implementation and operation by prescribed organisations and departments/agencies.
  • the first Ministerial report is due for tabling in Parliament in early 2020

The Minister must arrange a review of the operation of MARAM within five years of its legislated commencement and every five years after that. The Minister must also arrange a review of the operation of the legislative scheme (Part 11 of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008) five years after its commencement to assess whether it is achieving consistency in family violence risk assessment and family violence risk management.

This legislative oversight and review process is a strong framework for ongoing oversight and continuous improvement of this foundational component of the reform.

Implementation progress

Implementing MARAM is a large, multi-layered and complex task. It will ultimately affect more than 355,000 staff in over 5,800 organisations.12

Some significant progress has been made with implementing MARAM in a short period of time:

  • February 2018 – Amendments to the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 requiring relevant agencies to align their policies, procedures and practice with MARAM, responsible Ministers to report on its implementation, and legislates ongoing five-year reviews of implementation progress.
  • June 2018 – Legislative instrument came into force setting out the pillars, responsibilities, risk factors and principles of the MARAM Framework.
  • September 2018 – First group of organisations required to implement MARAM were ‘prescribed.’
  • September 2018 – MARAM framework approved.
  • May 2019 – Practitioner training commenced.
  • July 2019 – Practice guidelines and tools published.
  • July 2019 – Organisational leadership training commenced.

While progress has been made, organisations impacted by these reforms have advised that throughout the implementation of MARAM they have received advice and expected various critical elements to be completed at specific times that have not always been met, and the impact of this has been problematic. The changing time lines have also created risks for the information sharing schemes that are dependent on strong risk assessment and management practices being in place before they commenced. While FSV advised sectors that CRAF, discussed on the previous page, would continue to support practice, its training and use was disrupted as organisations anticipated the introduction of MARAM and a gap subsequently emerged for some organisations in their risk management training and practice.

Information sharing schemes

Improved sharing of information between different organisations and professions that may be involved with a family violence case was a key recommendation of the Royal Commission, with a particular focus on increased sharing of information about perpetrators. At the time the Royal Commission reported, risk assessments were largely based on information from and about the victim, with little information known about the perpetrator. This was based on an understanding that information about the perpetrator could not be shared without consent due to information privacy legislation.

The new part 11 of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 which commenced in 2018 also enables improved service coordination and for information to be contributed to the CIP. The CIP was a recommendation of the Royal Commission. It is a process whereby family violence professionals can request a report about a perpetrator of family violence that brings together information from different government agencies. Currently reports are generated manually because most of the agencies’ information systems can’t work together automatically. This service is currently only available for staff in The Orange Door sites and one other organisation and would require significant investment to allow it to be accessible to all family violence services. Professionals who are using the service have advised that it is making a significant positive impact on their ability to conduct fast and comprehensive risk assessments.

In February 2018 the new Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (FVISS) legislation came into effect, with organisations being brought into the scheme in a phased way. The scheme removes some significant barriers to organisations and professionals sharing information that is often required to do a reliable risk assessment. As shown in Figure 3B, in September 2018 information sharing powers were extended from the initial tranche of specialist family violence services to a broader group of agencies and professionals, including designated mental health services and drug and alcohol services, enabling them to better participate in family violence risk assessment and management. A third tranche of organisations and professionals, including schools and hospitals will have new information sharing powers enacted in 2020

Figure 3a: Overview of the FVISS
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The scheme also involves making a distinction between those types of organisations that are allowed to share information for the purpose of family violence ‘protection’ – known as ‘information sharing entities’ – and a subset of these organisations that can also share or request information for the purpose of ‘risk assessment’, as shown in Figure 3B.

To support the FVISS, several agencies such as Victoria Police and the Magistrates’ and Children’s Courts of Victoria have set up central information sharing teams that respond to and proactively share information with other information sharing entities.

There is also a Child Information Sharing Scheme (CISS) contained in the Child Wellbeing and Safety Act 2005. The CISS commenced in September 2018. Like the FVISS, the CISS only applies to specific organisations and is being implemented in a phased way. The CISS enables information to be shared without consent between prescribed organisations for the purpose of promoting the wellbeing or safety of a child or a group of children and is not limited to family violence purposes.

Figure 3b: Types of organisations prescribed as information sharing entities for the staged implementation of the FVISS

Group > Initial tranche Phase 1 Phase 2
Types of organisations
  • Child protection
  • Specialist family violence services
  • Sexual assault services
  • Child FIRST
  • Victoria Police
  • Magistrates' Court and Children's Court
  • Victims Support Agency
  • Corrections Victoria
  • Court-mandated men's behaviour change programs
  • Other family services
  • Homelessness services
  • Out-of-home care 
  • Youth justice
  • Maternal and child health
  • DHHS Housing
  • Mental health services
  • Alcohol and other drug services
  • Some other specific services
  • Hospitals
  • GPs
  • Schools and other education organisations
New information sharing powers February 2018 September 2018 Due 2020
Pre-existing family violence risk management knowledge Some - 30% used CRAF Very limited Very limited
Number of organisations 249 608 7,500
Number of staff 4,937 32,647 370,000

The implementation of MARAM is inextricably linked with the implementation of the information sharing schemes in four inter-related ways:

  1. Both require similar changes to practice, processes and culture by the same people in the same organisations.
  2. Contributing to information sharing is a stated responsibility within the MARAM framoework.
  3. A solid understanding of family violence risk, which is being brought about through the application of MARAM, is an essential part of the process of information sharing.
  4. Without strong risk assessment processes in place, some organisations and professionals can be hesitant to participate in some forms of information sharing, which in-turn inhibits good quality risk assessments from occurring when required.

MARAM and the information sharing schemes were designed and intended to be implemented together, with MARAM in place before information sharing came into effect. FSV’s communications strategy for MARAM noted that:

Prescribed organisations and services must use the MARAM Framework to guide sharing under the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme to identify, assess and manage family violence risk to children and adults.

Unfortunately, the sequencing of the rollout did not align as intended. A high-level framework for MARAM was published in September 2018, which was seven months after specialist family violence services’ new information sharing powers came into effect and at the same time as the next larger group of organisations’ information sharing powers began. Training, practice guidelines and tools to support putting the framework into practice all became available another eight to 10 months later, as shown in the time line in Figure 3C. The CRAF framework did continue to exist and be used by some organisations, however, as discussed earlier, there remained gaps in risk assessment and management training and practice during this transition period from CRAF to MARAM.

Figure 3c: Key milestones in the implementation of MARAM and FVISS

February 2018 June 2018 September 2018  May 2019 July 2019

FVISS enacted new powers for core family violence services

MARAM legislative instrument came into force

  • MARAM Policy published First phase of organisations prescribed to align to MARAM
    • FVISS enacts powers for a larger group of 'Phase 1' organisations
  • Organisational leadership MARAM training delivered by FSV
  • Five MARAM training modules finalised and provided to agencies to commence tailoring for their workforces
MARAM Practice Guides released

The Regulatory Impact Statement prepared for the Family Violence Protection (Information Sharing) Regulations in 2017 noted that ‘participating in the scheme with inadequately trained staff would pose a significant risk of information being shared inappropriately and in a way that could compromise victim survivor safety’. While there was a risk identified the FVRIM is not aware of any instances where this has occurred as a result of the sequencing of reforms. It is important to note that information relevant to family violence risk assessment and management was being shared prior to the new legislative scheme, particularly in the context of Risk Assessment and Management Panels (RAMPs).13 Much of the information shared prior to the new scheme was provided by victim survivors (with their consent) and little information was shared about perpetrators (due to a view that it was not safe to ask them for their consent, and the information could not usually be shared without consent).

Monash University is conducting the legislated review of the FVISS. Its interim report in June 2018 recommended that:14

Careful consideration should be given to delaying the roll-out of the FVISS to Phase One organisations until the MARAM is (sufficiently) complete so that the training in FVISS and family violence risk assessment and risk management can be aligned.

The Phase 1 rollout went ahead three months later without MARAM in place. As shown in Figure 3C above, the high-level framework for MARAM was published in the same month as the Phase 1 rollout and training and practice guides were released in May and July 2019, eight and ten months, respectively, after the rollout.

To date 1,338 specialist practitioners have been trained in using MARAM in their practice and a further 832 organisational leaders have been trained in the organisational change required to align with MARAM. The MARAM training program also involves online training modules, support from locally-based Family Violence Strategic Advisors, phone and email enquiry lines and sector grants for capacity building.

Risk assessment with children

It is a significant development that MARAM requires that children are recognised as victim survivors of family violence in their own right, with specific risks and needs. It identifies evidence-based risk factors specific to children that are caused by perpetrator behaviours.

The MARAM Practice Guide published in 2019 supports implementation of these principles by providing guidance on identifying and screening for family violence risk with children and young people, including deciding when to talk to a child directly and prompt questions to ask them. A Child Victim Survivor Assessment Tool has been developed and published as a part of the MARAM Practice Guide. One risk management tool specifically for older children and young people has been developed and the risk management tool for adults can include safety planning for children. A screening tool to assess family violence risk with children directly is also in development.

Risk assessment with perpetrators

The Royal Commission recommendations did not specifically require the development of perpetrator risk assessment tools, however, in the guidance materials that support risk assessments it did note a need ‘to place a greater emphasis on monitoring perpetrator behaviour’. Therefore, the initial tranche of work to develop new practice tools and guidance to support MARAM did not extend to working directly with perpetrators but the extensive consultations undertaken strongly highlighted the need and demand for perpetrator risk assessment tools and guidance. The scope of MARAM was subsequently revised by the Information Sharing and MARAM Steering Committee in response to this feedback.

Initial scoping work for a perpetrator-focused set of guidance and tools commenced in early 2018. The Centre for Innovative Justice undertook a mapping exercise, which informed a decision that an extensive suite of tools and guidance was required, comprising a perpetrator risk assessment tool, practice guidance and risk management resources. FSV is currently finalising a procurement process to appoint a provider to conduct this work.

Organisations working with perpetrators have indicated that they are eagerly awaiting these tools and are unclear about when they will be available. In the interim, specialist family violence services advise they are developing their own tools, potentially creating inconsistency in service responses and inefficiencies with their limited resources being used to create similar tools.

Organisational and practice change

Both the information sharing schemes and MARAM require fundamental changes in practice for a wide variety of front-line workers, both within family violence specialist services and in a wide range of mainstream services that have high levels of contact with victim survivors and perpetrators.

The work involved in implementing both information sharing and MARAM is considerable for many organisations. Systems, policies and practices need to be adjusted and a large number of staff must be trained. The degree of change required varies for different parts of the system and different organisations and needs to be tailored to their current level of family violence literacy and the types of engagement they can be expected to have with family violence. See Figure 3D below for a good practice example of implementing MARAM.

FSV developed a whole-of-government change management strategy and funded change management positions into relevant agencies to support them to develop and implement change management strategies.

Figure 3d: Good practice example: Case study of implementing MARAM

The Victorian Aboriginal Community Services Association Limited (VACSAL) is an Aboriginal community-controlled organisation that works across Victoria to provide a wide variety of programs that intersect with issues of family violence.

When VACSAL embarked upon aligning its organisational policies and systems to MARAM and the information sharing schemes, it found that it had a lot of good practice in place throughout its organisation but had never had the opportunity to document it.

VACSAL took an important and strategic approach to implementing MARAM by developing a family violence policy for the organisation, through a working group of case managers, community development officers and policy staff. The policy addresses many complex but crucial issues, including:

the historic and ongoing effects of colonisation, dispossession and racism in Aboriginal communities’ experiences of and exposure to violence, as well as gender issues

the need for responses to family violence to be culturally safe, holistic, self-determined and support community healing and violence prevention in the long-term

how it will manage each of: emergency situations, staff who experience family violence, staff who disclose family violence, staff who disclose that they choose to use family violence, responses to disclosures from VACSAL’s adult students given that it is a Registered Training Organisation

working with clients, including managing the common situation where staff may know their clients outside of the client-case manager relationship

self-care for staff working with family violence.

Developing this comprehensive policy greatly enhanced VACSAL’s capacity to communicate clearly with its community around how and why it might need to share information about family violence with other organisations including Victoria Police, and its general approach to the complex issues around family violence in Aboriginal communities.

VACSAL collaborates closely with other Aboriginal community-controlled organisations whose work intersects with family violence and is playing an important role in understanding and adapting the MARAM training and resources into an Aboriginal context and sharing the learnings from its own experience as opportunities arise.

VACSAL advised that one of the key learnings is that it initially approached the matter as a compliance issue because the information sharing schemes were legislated before the broader MARAM training and resources were available, but it has since learnt that the risk assessment and management discussion through MARAM should come first.

This work at VACSAL was supported by some additional resources provided by FSV to support the implementation of MARAM.

Source: FVRIM, based on information from VACSAL.

The Department of Justice and Community Safety (DJCS) developed a comprehensive Culture Change Strategy to guide implementation of the FVISS specifically, though the strategies will also support the change required around MARAM – see Figure 3E for more details. DJCS has shared this strategy with other agencies, and, for example, DET is using it as a template for developing its own approach to aligning policies, procedures, practice guidance and tools to MARAM.

DJCS’s ‘Culture Change Strategy Lead’, a VPS staff member funded by Family Safety Victoria to support the implementation of MARAM, developed a six-month Culture Change Action Plan to implement the culture change strategy over the six months from January to June 2019. The action plan was endorsed in the midpoint of this period, March 2019. It consists of 16 deliverables across three pillars of change: communications, training and soft infrastructure (i.e. systems and processes). DJCS also developed a ‘MARAMIS ecosystem map’ to describe the work of its Information Sharing and MARAM Working Group, and how implementation timeframes for these activities related to each other and to some relevant initiatives such as a workforce strategy and potential funding announcements, up until September 2019. DJCS is currently finalising several activities in the action plan such as preparing both illustrated and video case studies of information sharing and recruiting to the vacant position of MARAM Expert Advisor to support this work.

While DJCS has advised that it is implementing the culture change strategy through its Information Sharing and MARAM Working Group, further implementation planning and delivery will be beneficial in order to realise the potential of this high-quality strategy.

Figure 3e: Good practice example: Culture change strategy

DJCS, with funding from FSV, worked with a private consultancy to develop a culture change strategy to support implementation of the FVISS based on proven change management evidence and informed by extensive consultations. The strategy recognised that each of the department’s entities has a distinct sub-culture and identified specific priorities and initiatives tailored to each of these groups – corrections / prisons, health services for prisoners, community programs, victim support and youth justice.

The strategy assessed the importance, urgency and complexity of each of the proposed initiatives on a matrix and provided DJCS with advice on prioritising actions and resources.

The strategy also included a maturity model, which identified six characteristics of successful information sharing and assessed each of the DJCS entities’ maturity against each of these elements as embryonic, emerging or embedded, creating a baseline for monitoring implementation of the strategy. The characteristics assessed in the model were:

  • naturally collaborative
  • family violence literate
  • delegate authority
  • trusting
  • familiar with the FVISS and its objectives
  • familiar with other entities in the FVISS.

To inform the appropriate strategies, the model also explored, without the assessment component, three further key factors: relationship with victim/survivors, staff turnover and work setting.

Source: FVRIM, based on information from DJCS and FSV.


8 Toivonen, C., & Backhouse, C. (2018): National Risk Assessment Principles for Domestic and Family Violence (ANROWS Insights 07/2018), Sydney.

9 Royal Commission into Family Violence (2016): Report and recommendations, Vol. 1, p. 95.

10 Royal Commission into Family Violence (2016): Summary and Recommendations, p. 20

11 Prescribed organisations are defined in Regulation 18 of Family Violence Protection (Information Sharing and Risk Management) Regulations 2018. Available at

12 Victorian Government (2019): Regulatory Impact Statement: Family Violence Protection (Information Sharing and Risk Management) Amendment Regulations 2020, Final Report 17 October 2019. Available at (accessed 2 December 2019).

13 RAMPs are convened in local service areas for the very highest risk family violence cases. The rollout of RAMPs across Victoria was recommendation 4 of the Royal Commission and is reported as ‘implemented’ on the government’s public acquittal website.

14 Monash University (2018): Review of the family violence information sharing legislative scheme Ref no. C6475, Interim report, June 2018.