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Responding to high risk cases

of family and domestic violence:

Guidelines for multi-agency case management


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Government of Western Australia Department for Child Protection and Family Support Published by the Department for Child Protection and Family Support, Family and Domestic Violence Unit December 2013 Table of contents Introduction

Strategic context

Client pathways: referrals and multi-agency case management

Guidelines for multi-agency case management

Multi-agency case management forms


–  –  –

Introduction In February 2013, Family and Domestic Violence Response Teams (FDVRT) were implemented in Western Australia. The FDVRT are a partnership between Western Australia Police, the Department for Child Protection and Family Support and domestic violence services. There are 17 FDVRTs located across the state. In most regions the teams are co-located.

The aims of the FDVRT are to improve the safety of child and adult victims of family and domestic violence through a collaborative approach that focuses on timely and early intervention following a police call out to a domestic violence incident.

The FDVRTs undertake joint assessment of Domestic Violence Incident Reports and determine through a triage process who is best placed, or most appropriate, to provide a response. In addition, one of the key functions of the FDVRT is to convene multi-agency case management and work in partnership with agencies in the community/region to manage risk and improve safety in high risk cases.

This document sets out the guidelines for multi-agency case management convened by the FDVRT. Included in the document is the strategic context, client pathways, step by step guidelines for the multi-agency case management process and supporting tools and resources.

Strategic context Family and domestic violence is a widespread issue affecting families and communities all over the world (World Health Organisation, 2000). In Australia, anywhere between one in three (Mouzos & Makkai, 2004) and one in five women (ABS, 2005; 2013) experience violence by an intimate partner or family member and one in four children witness this abuse while they are growing up (Indermaur, 2001). For Aboriginal women and children, the rates of domestic violence are even higher with up to one in two experiencing family violence (Mouzos & Makkai, 2004; AIHW, 2006).

The impacts of family and domestic violence for adult and child victims are pervasive, affecting all aspects of health and wellbeing. Family and domestic violence is the leading cause of: perceived and actual threats to safety for women and children (ABS, 2005;

2013); non-accidental injury and death for women aged between 15 and 44 (VicHealth, 2004); homelessness for women and children (Tually, Faulkner, Cutler & Slatter, 2008);

mental health and substance misuse issues for women (Golding, 1999; Keys & Young, 1998); and physical and emotional harm (or risk of) for children (Humphreys, 2007).

The prevalence of family and domestic violence and the pervasiveness of its effects on the health and wellbeing of victims mean that responses can be complex, involving multiple services including child protection, police, courts, corrections, housing and specialist family and domestic violence services. The involvement of different agencies can lead to strong, coordinated and collaborative responses that have the collective capacity to keep victims safe and hold perpetrators to account. However, when agencies do not work together it can exacerbate risk and increase the vulnerability of the client. Domestic violence homicide reviews have repeatedly demonstrated that fragmented or siloed service responses lead to clients falling through the gaps between services; counter-productive information or responses; clients feeling disillusioned, further disempowered and overwhelmed; perpetrators becoming lost or invisible to the system; and agencies making decisions without a full understanding of the risk or other agencies’ involvement (Pence, Mitchell, Aoina, 2007; Ombudsman, 2013; Walsh et al., 2012).

To mitigate these risks and to provide an effective response to family and domestic This strategy has subsequently been refers to government and non-government agencies working in a coordinated and collaborative manner to provide holistic, safe and accountable responses to victims and perpetrators of family and domestic violence;

streamlined pathways through the service sector and seamless service delivery between agencies.

The integrated response to family and domestic violence is supported and formalised through: across government governance arrangements, strategic policy, formalised partnerships and accountability/monitoring. A summary of each is provided on the following page; note the examples provided are not exhaustive.

Integrated response to family and domestic violence Governance The Department for Child Protection and Family Support convenes the Family and Group (SOG). The SOG includes representatives from state and commonwealth government departments that have a role in responding to family Domestic and Family Violence Services. The role of the SOG is to plan, implement and monitor policy and strategies to support an integrated response to family and domestic violence.

The SOG contributed to the development of, and is guided by the following strategic plans:

 National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022;

2022; and Family and Domestic Violence 2009-2013.

Strategic policy

Strategic policies endorsed by the SOG include:

 Family and Domestic Violence Common Risk Assessment and Risk Management Framework, click here for a copy;

 Memorandum of Understanding: Information Sharing between Agencies with Responsibilities for Preventing and Responding to Family and Domestic Violence in Western Australia, click here for a copy; and  Tripartite Schedule between the Department for Child Protection and Family Support, Department of Corrective Services and Western Australia Police: Collaboration and Exchange of Information Regarding Serious Domestic Violence Offenders, click here for a copy.

Formal interagency partnerships  Family and Domestic Violence Response Teams;

 Guidelines for multi-agency case management;

 Domestic Violence Outreach and Safe at Home; and  Family Violence Courts.

Accountability and monitoring  Fatality Review; and  Monitoring and Evaluation Framework including data collection and reports to the Council of Australian Governments against progress of the National Plan.

Multi-agency case management Multi-agency case management (MACM) is a critical feature of an effective integrated response. It provides a platform for agencies to share information, develop comprehensive risk assessments, plan strategies to mitigate risks and work towards child and adult victim safety and perpetrator accountability. MACM is also important for creating transparency and accountability between agencies about their roles and responsibilities in responding to family and domestic violence.

Client pathways: referrals and multi-agency case management As identified earlier, the FDVRT is only one part of an integrated response to family and domestic violence. To support seamless client pathways through the service system and coordinated actions/activities between agencies, the FDVRT must work closely with other agencies in the region. This may include referral of a client and/or to invite an agency to contribute information to or participate in MACM.

FDVRT and referrals A member of the FDVRT (police, child protection or domestic violence service) may refer a family or individual to a service or agency in the community. Where practicable warm referral processes should be utilised including: the referring agency making contact with the service in the first instance; providing risk and safety focused client information with the referral (with the clients consent); supporting the client to access the service; and if the FDVRT agency will be continuing to provide services to the client, then the nature of this involvement should be explained and opportunities to coordinate responses and/or share information should be explored.

The FDVRT does not accept referrals, its role is to assess, triage and respond to Domestic Violence Incident Reports (DVIR).

FDVRT and multi-agency case management The FDVRT is responsible for convening MACM for families identified in DVIRs that are considered to be at high risk of future serious harm. This can occur with or without client consent and may occur on a needs basis or via regular structured meetings. To do this, the FDVRT will contact agencies to contribute information to and/or participate in MACM.

Information sharing

MACM and information sharing is supported by the Memorandum of Understanding:

Information Sharing between Agencies with Responsibilities for Preventing and Responding to Family and Domestic Violence in Western Australia, click here for a copy.

Agencies that identify a high risk case Where agencies conduct a risk assessment and judge a case to be high risk they should consider the following. NB: the responses outlined below incorporate the minimum standard for risk management as outlined in the Common Risk Assessment and Risk

Management Framework:

 If there are children involved, agencies should notify the Department for Child Protection and Family Support. This should occur with or without client consent.

 Report to WA Police. Police record all domestic violence matters as a Domestic Violence Incident Report. Therefore reports to police will be assessed and triaged by the FDVRT as they receive all DVIRs. Agencies can report to the police with or without client consent.

 Work with agencies to develop, implement and monitor a multi-agency safety plan. The guidelines for MACM outlined in this document can be used and adapted by agencies to coordinate multi-agency safety planning for their clients.

 Work with the client to develop a personal safety plan.

Guidelines for multi-agency case management MACM is an integrated, interagency approach to supporting people at high risk of serious injury, harm or death due to family and domestic violence. The approach includes information sharing between agencies and the development of a multi-agency safety plan to reduce the identified risks.

The philosophy for MACM as outlined in these guidelines is to provide short term, coordinated intervention that works to reduce or mitigate the identified risks. The aims of

MACM are to:

 determine whether the perpetrator poses a significant risk to the victim;

 jointly construct and implement a multi-agency safety plan that includes risk management, professional support for the child and adult victim and strategies to improve safety;

 support a criminal justice system response to perpetrators;

 reduce repeat victimisation;

 reduce re-offending by the perpetrator;

 improve agency accountability; and  improve support for staff involved in high risk cases of domestic violence.

MACM does not replace the work of individual agencies nor does it eliminate the need for agencies to work in collaboration outside of the meetings.

Information about roles and responsibilities and the processes for convening MACM are included in these guidelines.

Roles and responsibilities Family and Domestic Violence Response Team Through joint assessment and triage, the FDVRT will identify high risk cases of family and domestic violence and convene MACM on a needs basis. A member of the FDVRT will chair the MACM meetings. This role may be rotated or shared between FDVRT partner agencies.


The chairperson will:

 circulate the confidentiality agreement for signature or seek verbal endorsement for meetings hosted virtually;

 chair the MACM meeting according to the agenda (see template);

 structure the MACM meeting to prioritise cases of highest risk and use the time available as efficiently as possible; and  support the meeting to stay focused on safety and accountability.

Lead agency A lead agency should be nominated for each case discussed. The lead agency can be any

agency present or represented at the MACM meeting. The role of the lead agency is to:

 liaise with the adult victim about the outcomes of the meeting;

 record the safety plan during the meeting and email a copy to the FDVRT and all agency representatives that have an action documented;

 coordinate feedback from agencies about the progress of the action/s; and  call for follow-up MACM meetings as required.

NB: nomination of a lead agency does not alter the activities of other agencies involved with the family.

Agency representatives Agencies contacted to participate in MACM of high risk family and domestic violence

cases will:

 provide a representative to participate in the meeting;

 share relevant information about the adult and child victim/s and the perpetrator;

 contribute to safety planning;

 undertake any actions designated to the agency through the safety planning process;

 provide feedback to the lead agency about progress of the action and its effect on improving safety or mitigating risk; and  provide feedback to their agency about the outcome of MACM.

If the agency is unable to provide a representative for the meeting, they will provide

relevant information in writing including:

 whether they have current involvement with the adult or child victim or perpetrator;

 information relevant to risk and safety; and  history of past safety planning and interventions and the success or otherwise of these efforts.

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