Victoria Adds Additional Organisations into its Family Violence Information Sharing Frameworks

Tuesday 22 December 2020 @ 12.39 p.m. | Legal Research

On 15 December 2020, the Family Violence Protection (Information Sharing and Risk Management) Amendment Regulations 2020 (Vic) (“the Regulations”) were notified in the Victorian Gazette. The Regulations were previously released as a draft on 6 November 2019, with public consultation open until 6 December 2019.

The Regulations are scheduled to commence on 19 April 2021.

The Victorian Government Programs

The Regulations seek to amend the Family Violence Protection (Information Sharing and Risk Management) Regulations 2018 (Vic) (“the 2018 Regulations”) in order to progress three interrelated reforms that are part of the Government’s program to reduce family violence and promote child wellbeing and safety. These programs include the Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management Framework (“the MARAM Framework”), the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (“the FVIS Scheme”), and the Child Information Sharing Scheme (“the CIS Scheme”). The FVIS Scheme was discussed in an earlier TimeBase article. The CIS Scheme has also been discussed in an earlier TimeBase article.

The MARAM Framework was previously known as the common risk assessment framework, but was redeveloped in order to address the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence, a 2014 Coroner’s Inquest , and the 2016 Monash Review of the framework. The MARAM Framework was established under the newly inserted Part 11 of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic) in early 2018. Its redevelopment included a broader understanding of family violence beyond partner violence, better reflects the different needs of child victim survivors, and takes into account the needs and experiences of Aboriginal people and diverse communities. It sets out the responsibilities of different workforces in the identification, assessment, and management of family violence risk across the family violence and broader service system.

Amendments under the Regulations

Application of the MARAM Framework has been inconsistent and incomprehensive across the full spectrum of services due to a generally risk-averse culture of information sharing, and the limited scope of prescribed organisations and services under the FVIS Scheme and the MARAM Framework. Effective and comprehensive family violence risk assessment under the MARAM Framework is dependent on the information made available. A lack of information can lead to inadequate assessment of levels of risk, poor safety planning, leading to reduced safety of victim survivors and potentially more serious consequences.

The Regulations will prescribe authorisation to additional organisations and services to allow them to share information under the FVIS Scheme. These organisations and services will be required to align the relevant policies, procedures, practice guidance, and tools with the MARAM Framework. Prescribing additional entities ensures that these organisations and services have access to relevant information in order to comprehensively assess and manage the risk of family violence.

Some of the organisations and services prescribed by the Regulations include:

  • The Adult Parole Board
  • Children’s Court officials
  • Victims of Crime Helpline
  • The Victorian Police
  • Youth Justice funded community support services or programs

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