Family violence in Victoria:
- Directly affects one in five women over the course of their lifetime
- Leading contributor of preventable death, disability and illness in women aged 15-44 years
- 60,829 calls for assistance from police related to family violence in 2012/13
Source: Dept of Human Services Victoria / Victoria Police
Addressing family violence requires an integrated and collaborative response from government and non-government service providers. In 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services began investigating coordinated multi-agency approaches to strengthening family violence risk management. Strengthening Risk Management Demonstration Project pilots were established in Victoria in June 2011. As a part of these pilots, the Risk Assessment and Management Panels (RAMPs) were set up and tasked with identifying and responding to families at high risk.
“The RAMP model engages a range of stakeholders in the design, implementation and delivery of a response to high-risk family violence,” explained Kathy Mendis, RAMP Coordinator for Outer Gippsland. “It works with best practice around consent and responsibilities for duty of care to ensure the safety of women and children at risk of continuing serious harm and potential death.”
RAMPs meets monthly, and more often if necessary to develop targeted action plans to reduce specific risks and support the continued case work of professionals with individual clients.
“Under the RAMP model, member agencies propose high risk cases for other agencies to consider. Participating government and non-government agencies present information about the cases and the panel works together to develop an action plan to reduce the risk to affected family members. Cases are later reviewed and discussed at subsequent meetings,” Ms Mendis continued.
The core members of the Outer Gippsland RAMP include lead agency, Gippsland Lakes Complete Health (GLCH); Victoria Police; Community Corrections; Department of Housing; Child Protection; and local mental health, alcohol and drug, ChildFIRST and Men’s Behaviour Change services. Representatives from these services will attend all meetings. Associate members from other agencies who have particular knowledge of a case attend on a needs-basis. The Panel meetings are jointly chaired by Ailsa Carr, Executive Manager of the Family, Youth and Children’s Services Unit at GLCH and the operations support inspector for the eastern region of Victoria Police.
“RAMPs are not a substitute for the existing system but work to enhance the response to this high risk group,” said Ms Mendis. “Women referred to a RAMP are identified as being at a high and imminent risk of serious harm from family violence and require an immediate risk assessment and action plan to lessen or prevent the threat to her (and her children’s) life, health, safety and wellbeing,” she explained. “The majority of RAMP cases are referred with the consent of the women experiencing the violence. Police will often initiate these referrals. In all cases, the lead agencies advocate on behalf of the woman at the centre of the process.”
GLCH looks forward to driving the Outer Gippsland RAMP and believes that it will contribute significantly to prevent or reduce the number of incidences of women and children getting seriously assaulted because of family violence in the region. Any service provider working with victims of family violence or women and children identified ‘at risk’ of experiencing family violence are encouraged to make a referral to Ms Mendis who is based at GLCH’s Bairnsdale premises.
Ailsa Carr – Executive Manager, Family, Youth and Children’s Services at GLCH and Co-chair RAMP, Outer Gippsland Region
Mark Edwards – Inspector, Eastern Region, Division 6 Operations Support, Victoria Police and Co-chair RAMP, Outer Gippsland Region
Kathy Mendis – Risk Assessment and Management Coordinator Outer Gippsland Region at GLCH