Follow this procedure when assessing family violence in the protection order phase.

Document ID number 1044, version 2, 6 December 2021.

Introduction

During the protection order phase, it is crucial child protection practitioners continue to keep family violence at the forefront of their assessment and work with families. For many families in child protection, family violence may be entrenched and intergenerational.

Holding the perpetrator accountable and responsible for their behaviour is essential for the ongoing safety and wellbeing of the child and adult victim survivor.

Work undertaken with the family and other services in relation to the adult and child victim survivor’s safety can inform case planning. Goals and tasks for the perpetrator to address their violence and coercive behaviours must be detailed and recorded in the actions table, along with actions to address the other protective concerns and needs of the child.

See Assessing and managing family violence in child protection – advice for further information.

Procedure

Case practitioner tasks

  • Regularly review risk assessments and safety plans for the child and victim survivor as risk can escalate or change quickly (dynamic risk). Safety plans may need to be reviewed on a weekly or sometimes daily basis depending on the risk rating and immediate needs of the family (see Reviewing the risk assessment – procedure for details on undertaking the review risk assessment).
  • Regular review of the child’s case plan and the actions table should always be undertaken alongside review of the risk assessment.
  • Consider any safety issues of the perpetrator being provided with documents (such as case plans) that may pose a risk to the adult and child victim survivor’s safety.
  • Continue to seek, share, sort and store information and evidence, such as completed MARAM assessments from other agencies.
  • Update the essential information categories as new information is received or circumstances change.
  • Provide Victoria Police with the result of any risk assessment completed by child protection, including the MARAM assessment where requested. This will support Victoria Police to bring an application for a family violence intervention order in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria. 
  • Request Victoria Police or the Magistrates’ Court to provide child protection with the outcome of any family violence intervention order application.
  • Assess the perpetrator’s pattern of coercive behaviours towards family members, and the impact that this has on the child’s safety and wellbeing.
  • Discuss any misidentified predominant aggressor (perpetrator) with your manager or co-located specialist family violence worker to inform next steps for advising the police and other services involved. Correct the misidentification on CRIS by:
    • completing a review of the MARAM assessment and a review of the risk assessment,
    • reviewing and updating the essential information categories
    • amending the Person responsible for harm assessment, if applicable
    • including a case note in CRIS stating the misidentification and steps taken to rectify this.
  • Consider how family violence has impacted on the child’s connection to their culture, development (physical, emotional and psychological), health and education and what is needed for the child’s recovery, including therapeutic responses.

A victim survivor of family violence cannot be expected to exert control over a situation to protect their child during contact if they have been subject to violence themselves or are fearful of the perpetrator, especially where there has been a recent separation or changes to contact arrangements. Under these circumstances the perpetrator has opportunity to perpetrate violence and coercive control against both the adult victim and child victim survivors. In addition, the perpetrator’s focus will likely be on regaining control, rather than the child’s needs and wellbeing.

  • Consider how to manage the risk of the perpetrator locating the adult and child victim survivors when they have sought refuge and using this contact to indirectly harm or exert control over the adult victim survivor via the child.
  • Consider arranging fully supervised contact or suspending contact where unsupervised contact between the perpetrator and the child and adult victim survivors would place them at further risk of harm.
  • If the parents are separated, avoid placing the responsibility on the adult victim survivor for supervising contact between the child and the perpetrator.
  • If during your involvement with the child and their family, you form a belief that family violence is occurring (that has not been previously reported):
    • update the essential information categories 
    • complete a review risk assessment, including the MARAM assessment
    • complete an L17 Family Violence Portal search
    • consider a consultation with the specialist family violence worker or senior child protection practitioner (family violence) about possible referral to a Risk Assessment Management Panel (RAMP) where serious family violence risk factors are identified. 
  • If family violence has not been a previous concern, a new familial allegation may be required.
  • If you have assessed or received a current MARAM assessment with a risk rating of serious risk or serious risk and requires immediate protection but the decision from the risk assessment is for the case to close, consider the following:
    • convene a case conference which includes key services involved in managing the family violence risk (such as a police member, a family violence specialist worker and a cultural representative where appropriate)
    • discuss and document actions regarding the need for RAMP referral and other agreed risk management strategies
    • record a clear rationale for closure at intake phase.
  • Where differing views remain between another service and child protection regarding child protections assessment to close:
    • escalate the matter for review by the Statewide Services Principal Practitioner
    • consider referring the matter to the Statewide Family Violence Principal Practitioner for consultation and further advice as facilitated by the Statewide Services Principal Practitioner.

Supervisor tasks

  • Provide ongoing supervision and consultation.
  • Support and chair (as required) case conferences.
  • review the risk assessment, child’s case plan, actions table and any safety plans with the practitioner during supervision to assess the current level of risk due to family violence and other protective concerns, and ongoing needs of the child.
  • Support the practitioner to formulate and enact plans which are purposeful and goal oriented, with a focus on building safety for the child and the adult victim survivor and plans which hold the perpetrator of family violence to account.
  • Assist and oversee development of safety plans and support worker safety.
  • discuss any safety concerns and needs with the practitioner prior to direct client contact.
  • Consider the unknowns, work through possible scenarios.
  • Provide support and opportunities for the practitioner to debrief following direct client contact and during supervision sessions.

Team manager / practice leader tasks

  • Endorse key decisions including:
    • review risk assessments
    • legal intervention as required
    • RAMP referral
    • case closure where MARAM risk rating is serious risk or serious risk in need of protection.
  • Ensure all practitioners include the training they require to support effective family violence practice in their PDPs. This should include:
    • family violence specific training
    • trauma training
    • cultural competence training
    • suicide prevention training
    •  information sharing training.

Specialist family violence worker/senior child protection practitioner (family violence)

  • Assist the practitioner to understand and navigate the family violence system.
  • Contribute to the substantiation rationale, the MARAM assessment and actions and the risk assessment or review risk assessment
  • Participate in secondary consultation with the practitioner in relation to safety and risk assessments and understanding perpetrator behaviour.
  • Assist the practitioner in developing and reviewing the child’s case plan, actions table and safety plans where needed.
  • Assist the practitioner to make referrals to specialist violence services.
  • Provide the time and forums for practitioners to engage in critical self-reflection on their practice methods and their effectiveness.

Area Principal Practitioner

  • Where requested, review and provide advice on decision to close the case where there is a current MARAM risk rating of serious or serious and requires immediate protection.

Statewide Family Violence Principal Practitioner

  • Where requested, review and provide further advice on decision to close the case where there is a current MARAM risk rating of serious or serious and requires immediate protection. Consultation and advice must be recorded on CRIS.

Related procedures

Reviewing the risk assessment

Practice Dictionary Definition

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