Risk Assessment Frameworks and Tools
Because your service might be the first place a woman or family seeks help when affected by domestic and family violence, understanding risk is an important part of responding well. Risk frameworks contain a staged process for responding to domestic and family violence.
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Frameworks for integrating the response to the violence women and children experience have been developed to help us respond well.
Workers and agencies can find it useful to adopt or develop a particular framework to guide practice. A number of evidence-based risk frameworks have been developed in Australia and these frameworks include tools for screening, assessing risk, undertaking safety planning and risk management. While adopting a framework will help guide your practice, assessing risk is specialist work, and requires particular skills and knowledge. Not every worker is expected to implement the risk framework, but all workers can benefit from knowing about risk assessment approaches and recognising and responding to the ‘red flags’ that signal when risk to women and children is high. Training in the use of these frameworks from specialist domestic and family violence services is recommended.
Because your service might be the first place a woman or family seeks help when affected by domestic and family violence, understanding risk is an important part of responding well.
Risk frameworks contain a staged process for responding to domestic and family violence. This process begins by identifying that the violence is occurring, then asking some preliminary questions about fear and the presence of risk factors. This is followed by a full and comprehensive risk assessment, best undertaken by specialist family violence services. Safety planning needs to happen after each stage and is part of helping a woman manage risk.
Tools for understanding risk
All workers should familiarise themselves with their organisation’s risk framework and the key risks of domestic and family violence listed in there. Training in the use of risk frameworks and tools from a specialist domestic and family violence service is recommended.
Screening tools risk assessment tools and safety planning tools have been used for many years when responding to family violence. It can be helpful to understand that these tools are linked and can be seen as part of a continuum of responses. They should not be seen as stand-alone tools or documents; rather they reflect an approach outlined in the frameworks. Screening is an informal process that aims to open up a conversation about family and domestic violence and create an atmosphere in which someone using your services feels supported to discuss what is happening for them. Screening can improve the rate of disclosure. See our Risk Screening page for more details. Risk assessment is more in-depth and systematic. It should be used when violence is suspected or reported. Risk assessment tools provide a structured way of finding out about the real and serious risks women and children may be facing when experiencing family and domestic violence. See our Risk Assessment page for more details. Safety Planning can help a woman and her children improve their safety while they are living with violence or after they have left a violence relationship. See our Safety Planning page for more details.
Knowing what the evidence-based risk factors are does not mean that all workers should do risk assessments.
What it does mean is that everyone who encounters domestic and family violence in their work should understand the general issues around risk so that they can take appropriate action. That action might be referral to a specialist agency that can respond with a detailed risk assessment and safety plan, support, options and assistance. It might also mean calling the police.
The governments of Victoria and Western Australia have frameworks for screening and risk assessment. These are a useful place to start for understanding risk and can be used in many different work environments. Training with a specialist domestic and family violence service helps with implementing an approach to increasing safety for women and children, especially if your state does not have a framework. Local services can fill in local details like state-specific legislative requirements and local service providers. The two frameworks are listed below with a brief description and links to resources and tools. You may wish to consider using these as a starting point for developing an approach to risk screening and assessment in your workplace.
Common Risk Assessment Framework (CRAF)
This framework, also known as the Family Violence Risk Assessment and Risk Management Framework, was developed in Victoria to guide common approaches to assessing risk where family violence is present. It has been an important tool to help to build an integrated family violence system, and to standardise responses to family violence service delivery across Victoria. It is used in a diverse range of specialist and mainstream settings.
The framework promotes:
A shared understanding of risk and family violence
A standardised approach to recognising and assessing risk
Appropriate referral pathways and information sharing
Risk management strategies that include ongoing assessment and case management.
The framework includes:
A practice manual
Links to training
Risk assessment tool
Common Risk Assessment and Risk Management Framework
The Common Risk Assessment and Risk Management Framework (CRARMF) is based on the Victorian model and modified for the Western Australian context. It addresses some of the particular needs of West Australian women and children including access to the specific service system and strategies for dealing with geographical isolation.
These resource were developed for 1800RESPECT in collaboration with:
Continue to Risk Assessment
You can call 1800RESPECT for referral and information or your local service.