April 28, 2021

Responding to family violence

The Victorian Government has introduced three interrelated family violence reforms in response to the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence (2016).

The three major family violence reforms are The Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (FVISS), The Child Information Scheme (CISS), and the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management Framework (MARAM).

Tanya Ellis, Project Support Officer for Strengthening Hospital Response to Family Violence at Northern Health, said the reforms aim to strengthen system-wide family violence risk assessment and management, and support information sharing in an attempt to keep adults and children, with lived experience of family violence safe, and to hold perpetrators accountable for their behaviour.

“The information sharing schemes allow prescribed organisations to share information about patients more freely,” she said.

“We still need to ask consent, but if there is a serious threat, we can override the patient’s wishes and not obtain consent. If it relates to a perpetrator, we don’t need consent. The point of those is to be able to share information to save lives.”

Snez Filiposki, Project Support Officer, said, “The MARAM Framework is a way that we can assess and manage family violence risk and it promotes early intervention to protect adults and children. The framework ensures that all staff have a shared understanding of family violence and that they understand their responsibilities in family violence risk assessment and management. The framework also provides skills to guide professionals in this work.”

“One in four women experience family violence and a lot of the family violence hotlines saw a spike in calls during COVID-19. The reforms are important because we need to have accountability within the health service because there are a lot of cases of family violence. A child is dying every fortnight and that is not acceptable. We really do need to take a stand and do something about it.”

The reforms were launched at Northern Health earlier this month.

“There has been a lot of work put behind this project and it’s state-wide, so all hospitals are contributing to this,” Elisha O’Dowd, Project Manager said.

“It will make everything a lot safer for patients and their families and victims of family violence. It will also create that culture of not walking past when you notice signs of family violence.”

The Strengthening Hospital Response to Family Violence Team will present a series of short PowerPoint presentations to launch these reforms.

“The health service becomes a framework organisation which means it’s actually legislated and is prescribed to align all its policies and procedures to the new framework and to the new information sharing,” Snez explained.

“It also means from here on in, we need to train staff in the new legislation and the new MARAM Framework. That’s what the launch is all about – giving staff the opportunity to come and hear firsthand what the changes are and then there will be more training responsibilities.”

“All staff and leadership all have responsibilities under MARAM so it’s not just doctors, nurses and allied health staff. It’s clinical and non-clinical.”

For more details, click here.