Risk assessments

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As a specialist family violence practitioner, you need to become comfortable with routinely asking questions about disability as part of your risk assessments and safety planning.

Person-centred risk assessments

In Victoria, family violence practitioners are required to use the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management (MARAM) framework to assess and manage family violence risk. The MARAM practice guidelines and tools provide guidance on disability.

The MARAM Comprehensive Risk Assessment Tool includes fields on disability and additional consideration questions you can ask a victim survivor with disability. But your risk assessment can be further strengthened by asking additional, empowering questions about disability and perpetrator tactics in a way that enables a victim survivor with disability to share their story.

Additional questions you can ask

Identifying and understanding barriers for the victim survivor

  • Do you have any concerns about how your disability might affect your safety?
  • Do the effects of your disability change? If so, what causes the change? Can you predict when changes will happen? How does it affect your safety?

Identifying and understanding a perpetrator’s coercive tactics

  • Does your perpetrator do things that make your disability worse?
  • Does your perpetrator do things that take away your independence?
  • Does your perpetrator restrict or interfere with your communications with others (including restricting use of technology and interpreters)?
  • Does your perpetrator interfere with your use of (items needed for safety)?
  • Does your perpetrator refuse to give you your medication, keep you from taking your medication or give you too much or too little medication?
  • Does your perpetrator do things that take advantage of your disability?
  • How does your perpetrator react to your disability in private?
  • What does your perpetrator tell others about your disability?
  • What is your perpetrator’s involvement with (personal support worker or other disability support service)?
  • Does your perpetrator provide any caregiving? Will you need emergency backup support workers?

Identify and understand the victim survivor’s strengths, resources and support

  • What are your ideas for dealing with (identified barrier to service)?
  • Is there any equipment, medications or technology that help you stay safe?
  • What supports do you currently have (for example, friends, disability advocates, resources and places that you feel comfortable with)? What other supports would you like?

Adopting a Disability & NDIS Lens – Person-centred risk assessment tool

These questions are also included in Safe and Equal’s person-centred risk assessment tool that specialist family violence services can print and use along with the MARAM Comprehensive Risk Assessment Tool. If you work in a Safe and Equal member organisation and would like access to the tool, email disabilityinclusion@safeandequal.org.au.

Webinar: Person-centred risk assessment with victim survivors with disability

In July 2021, we partnered with Women with Disabilities Victoria (WDV) to deliver a webinar on person-centred risk assessment with victim survivors with disability. Facilitated by Keran Howe, panellists from WDV’s Experts by Experience group and the Office of Public Advocate, as well as family violence practitioners, contributed their diverse perspectives and experiences. Together they explored compounding risk factors and barriers to safety that people with disability experience. The webinar also covered ways family violence practitioners can adapt practice to ensure people with disability feel safe, heard and supported during risk assessment.

Barriers to accessing support

It may be difficult to gather details from victim survivors with disability for a number of reasons, such as fear they will not be believed, entrenched feelings of disempowerment, or tactics the perpetrator may be using to stop the victim survivor accessing help. Find out more about creating an inclusive environment to help overcome these barriers.


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