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What is a Risk Assessment?

Conducting a risk assessment allows us to understand what is happening for the client and to evaluate the risk they are in due to the actions of the person using violence.

A Risk Assessment is completed ….

  • to determine level or ‘seriousness’ of family violence risk
  • after disclosure or identification and screening of family violence
  • to assess changes in family violence risk over time
  • by using either an Intermediate or Comprehensive Risk Assessment template

When assessing family violence risk, we use the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management (MARAM) Framework.

We conduct risk assessments with both those who are experiencing violence and those who are using violence. Children are also unique victims in their own right who need their own individualised risk assessments.

Introduction to Risk Assessment
Source 1800Respect

What is Risk Management?

Risk management is a coordinated set of strategies and actions aimed at enhancing the safety of the victim survivor (adult, child or young person) and reducing or removing the likelihood that the perpetrator will commit further violence.

All risk management must involve safety planning. In addition to safety planning, other forms of risk management may also be required such as discussing options with victim survivors, connection to support and services, secondary consultation, and ongoing risk assessment.

Risk management activities for victim survivors may include responding to a range of risks and associated needs, such as…

  • Responding to immediate risk
  • Safety planning (including for children or young people)
  • Talking to victim survivors about options and connection to relevant services
  • Ongoing risk assessment and management (monitoring for change and/or escalation)
  • Some risk management activities require engaging with other services for assessment and management activities, including information sharing.

What is Collaborative Risk Management?

Collaborative risk management:

  • increases the visibility of the perpetrator,
  • facilitates more tailored responses and risk management strategies,
  • can be more timely and responsive to changes in the level of risk.

These coordinated responses make victim survivors safer.

Service providers who use collaborative risk management can also consider and access a range of risk management activities for victim survivors which may not be possible for services who work independently.

It’s important to continually review your assessment of risk and update risk management and safety plans, as risk levels can change quickly and at any time.

Depending on your role, you may contribute to risk management in a short- term support or intervention or have an ongoing role.

An ongoing role includes supporting monitoring of risk and continued collaboration with specialist services to support the victim survivor, share information, and/or maintain visibility of the perpetrator.

What are evidence-based risk factors?

There are 3 categories of risk factors under the MARAM Framework.

Comprising those that are:

  • specific to an adult victim survivor’s circumstances
  • caused by a perpetrator’s behaviour towards an adult or child victim survivor
  • additional risk factors caused by a perpetrator’s behaviour specific to children, which recognises that children experience some unique risk factors, and that their risk must be assessed independently of adult victim survivors.

There is also a separate category reflecting children’s circumstances that may indicate (not determine in isolation) that family violence is present or escalating and should prompt assessment of children.

The risk factors reflect the current and emerging evidence base relating to family violence risk.

International evidence-based reviews[27] and consultation with academics and expert professionals have informed the development of a range of evidence-based risk factors that signal that family violence may be occurring.

The MARAM Practice guide is concerned with risk factors associated with an adult perpetrator’s family violence behaviours towards adult and child victim survivors.

Each perpetrator’s patterns of behaviour towards adult and child victim survivor(s) can be understood as coercive and controlling behaviour, or coercive control.

Perpetrators exert coercive control using a range of behaviours over time, and their effect is cumulative.

Coercive control can be exerted through any combination or pattern of the evidence-based risk factors.

It is often demonstrated through patterned behaviours of emotional, financial abuse and isolation, stalking (including monitoring of technology), controlling behaviours, to choking/strangulation, sexual and physical violence.

One occurrence of family violence behaviour can create the dynamic of ongoing coercion or control, due to the threat of possible future family violence behaviour and the resultant ongoing fear, even if ‘high-risk’ behaviours do not re-occur.

The implication for professionals working with perpetrators of family violence is that narratives and behaviours that appear innocuous may in fact be part of a pattern of behaviour making victim survivors feel unsafe and elevating their level of risk.

In addition, understanding adult and child victim survivors’ and perpetrators’ broader needs and circumstances can help you to identify, assess and manage risk according to your level of MARAM responsibility.

Source – MARAM Practice Guides

Click here for – MARAM Practice Guides – Table 3 – Evidence based risk factors – page 28

PLEASE NOTE – in Table 3, emerging evidence-informed family violence risk factors are indicated with a hash (#).
Serious risk factors — those that may indicate an increased risk of the victim being killed or almost killed — are highlighted with orange shading##.

Who is required to use the MARAM Framework?

The MARAM Framework is designed to spread the responsibility for identification, screening and management across a range of professionals. It has identified the responsibilities for four workforce tiers.

It’s recommended you refer to your agencies policies and procedures, however, according to the Family Violence Response Capability Framework, those tiers are:

Tier One – Comprehensive Risk Management

  • Specialist Family Violence, Women, Children
  • People Using Violence Intervention Services
  • Core and Cluster Accommodation Providers
  • After-hours Specialist Family Violence Services

Tier Two & Three – Intermediate Risk Management

  • Courts and Court services
  • Corrections
  • Police
  • Family dispute resolution services
  • Forensic sexual assault crisis care
  • Child Protection
  • Child Wellbeing
  • Homelessness Services
  • Drug and alcohol services
  • Housing services
  • Mental health services
  • Youth work
  • Emergency Services
  • Maternal and Child Health
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse services
  • Aboriginal Services
  • LGBTIQ+ Services
  • State funded disability services
  • State funded aged care services

Tier Four- Screening and Identification

  • Education services
  • Publically funded healthcare

Which risk assessment tool do I use?

Most agencies will be using a data entry system where the required risk assessment tool is embedded into the program. You should refer to your agencies policies and procedures about the data systems that you use for recording client information. The following MARAM Risk Assessment Tools are available for the following workforces. Click this links and scroll down to find the relevant tools:

You can download the hard copy versions of these tools from the Victoria Government website

The Victorian Government have released a range of videos to help guide you on how to complete a risk assessment.

  • Victim Survivor – Intermediate Risk Assessment  – Watch Video  
  • Victim Survivor – Intermediate Risk Management & Safety Planning – Watch Video 
  • Victim Survivor – Comprehensive Risk Assessment – Watch Video
  • Victim Survivor – Comprehensive Risk Management & Safety Planning – Watch Video
  • Person Using Violence – Intermediate Risk Assessment – Watch Video
  • Person Using Violence – Intermediate Risk Management & Safety Planning – Watch Video

Responding to immediate risk

You have identified family violence and may need to complete a risk assessment but you also have responsibilities in responding to immediate risk by ….

  • Contacting police (000) in crisis situations where an immediate response is required
  • Seeking a medical response to serious/injury.
  • Seek practice advice from a specialist family violence service.
  • Seeking secondary consultation from a specialist family violence service for comprehensive risk management planning or referring the victim survivor to a service for this support.
  • Statutory obligation to report to the police of any disclosures of sexual abuse of a child
  • Report the risk posed by the perpetrator to children or young people to Child FIRST/Child Protection and schools/ childcare centres (including sharing information regarding an intervention order if one is in place).
  • Supporting an adult victim survivor to engage with legal services, and to make an application for an IVO including for children and young people (if applicable) OR a personal safety intervention order, if appropriate, for community-based family violence or in family-like relationships, where the victim survivor does not want to apply for a family violence intervention order.

What is a Practice Guide?

Family Safety Victoria has released Practice Guides which informs how we use the MARAM Framework in Practice. There are multiple practice guides:

  • Foundational Knowledge Guide
  • Adult Victim Survivor Practice Guides
  • Adult User of Violence Practice Guides

Download all MARAM Practice Guides here:

MARAM Practice Guides explainer

This short, 6-minute video steps through the purpose of the MARAM Practice Guides as a supporting resource for professionals, and provides an overview of their structure

I would like training on how to use the MARAM Framework