Follow this procedure when assessing family violence in the protective intervention phase.

Document ID number 1043, version 2, 6 December 2021.

Introduction

The presence of family violence is a common risk factor for families involved with child protection. Child protection’s response to family violence needs to address the risks to the child posed by the perpetrator of the violence and support victim survivors to provide for the ongoing needs of the child.

The impact and effect of family violence on the family is complex, and frequently co-exists with other protective concerns such as drug and alcohol abuse, neglect and mental health issues.

Planning with families to address these concerns requires particular attention to the perpetrator’s patterns of coercive control, and recovery needs of both the adult victim survivor and the child.

It is important to remember that family violence perpetrated on the adult victim survivor is perpetration on the child.

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

Procedure

This procedure includes tasks and actions to address substantiated harm which may be due to family violence.

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).
  • Regularly reviewing 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 and consider a review of the risk assessment.
  • 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.
  • Prepare a case plan for the child that includes key decisions to address the family violence risk within 21 days of substantiation.
  • 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 co-located 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.

The connection between trauma and family violence is a key consideration for practitioners. As well as identifying the direct harm to the child, consider how the violence perpetrated on the adult victim survivor has impacted the child.  Addressing parent related protective concerns such as drug and alcohol use and mental health issues without considering the impact of family violence may lead to ineffective responses that do not address the underlying cause of the concerns.

  • 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.
  • Develop the case plan and actions table to address the protective concerns for the child. Include a goal for the perpetrator to cease violence to protect the child and tasks for the perpetrator to achieve this goal.
  • Inform the child’s school or childcare of the family violence concerns and any contact arrangements (including court ordered arrangements).
  • Identify the therapeutic needs of the child to assist in their recovery from the family violence (including services for adolescents who use violence in the home). Check The Lookout website (www.thelookout.org.au/sector-info/service-directory) for lists and contact details of family violence services that include services for children.
  • Review the actions table and any safety plans on a regular basis to respond to changes in the level of risk as family violence risk is dynamic and can frequently change.
  • Convene a case conference where there are multiple services involved so everyone is aware of their role and responsibilities in implementing and monitoring the case plan, actions table and other safety plans.
  • Share all current MARAM assessments in line with the information sharing schemes.
  • If there is a current MARAM assessment with a risk rating of ‘serious risk’ or ‘serious risk and requires immediate protection’ but child protection is considering or intend to close the case, a case conference (case closure meeting) should be held. Alternatively, or at minimum, discussions should be held with services involved to confirm the risk management approach (see below for further information on case closure in this situation).
  • Attendees at a case conference should include 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).
  • The case conference should include discussion and documented actions regarding need for RAMP referral and other agreed risk management strategies.
  • Following the case conference, if differing views remain between child protection and another service regarding child protections assessment to close, the matter should be escalated to the Area Principal Practitioner for review. Consideration may also be given to referring the matter to the Statewide Family Violence Principal Practitioner for consultation and further advice.

Court

  • Include the MARAM risk rating and rationale in the risk assessment sections of your court report and describe how family violence has or will impact on the child’s safety and wellbeing. This includes how the perpetrator’s behaviour has impacted the adult victim survivor, the adult victim survivor’s capacity to care for the child and their relationship with the child.
  • Consider if you need to request that part or whole of the report be withheld from the perpetrator due to safety concerns.

Managing risk – safety plans

  • Develop or assist with the development of a safety plan with the adult victim survivor and the child or young person.
  • Include the protection strategies and immediate responses to the violence (safety plan templates are available on Forms and secure documents Sharepoint site).
  • Consult the specialist family violence worker or senior child protection practitioner (family violence) where necessary when developing a safety plan.
  • Record the adult or child victim survivor’s safety plan in CRIS as a scanned copy attached to a case note titled family violence safety plan <name of adult or child victim survivor> (not to be provided to <name of perpetrator>)
  • Refer to Adolescents and their families – specialist practice resource for details on developing a safety plan where the young person uses violence in the home.

The perpetrator should not be provided with the adult victim survivor’s or the child’s safety plan.

Working with adult perpetrators

  • Review and update the worker safety assessment and safety plans on a regular basis when engaging or intervening with a perpetrator of family violence and discuss this with a supervisor.
  • contact the community corrections case manager to advise of child protections involvement when the perpetrator is subject to a Corrections order and include Corrections in case planning processes.
  • Contact Corrections Victoria when planning to interview a perpetrator in prison and confirm safety arrangements for the visit.
  • Verify all information provided by the perpetrator against information provided by the adult victim survivor, the child and other sources such police and court records and other services involved including men’s behaviour change programs and drug and alcohol treatment services.
  • Consult the specialist family violence worker or senior child protection practitioner (family violence) for advice on how to engage and include the perpetrator in case planning and risk assessment processes where required.
  • Consult a supervisor, practice leader or principal practitioner where a perpetrator is avoidant and has not been interviewed, consult and document the consultation on CRIS.

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 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 o 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.

Related procedures

Practice Dictionary Definition

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