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Issues paper: Risk assessment: What is it and how can it be applied in family violence?

October 30, 2015 at 9:01 AM

Issues Paper 9, Risk assessment: What is it and how can it be applied in family violence?

The New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse has just released Issues Paper 9, Risk assessment: What is it and how can it be applied in family violence?

This Issues Paper, written by Pauline Gulliver and Janet Fanslow, has these key messages:

  • Risk assessment must be considered as a piece in the wider puzzle of risk management.
  • Adequate services need to be provided for those considered at "less" risk, so they receive an appropriate response. This also reduces the imperative for service providers to escalate a case, in order to get help for a person.
  • Effective risk assessment and management needs to be grounded in an integrated response system. This needs to have:

- Underlying principles which shape how practitioners respond.

- Training for practitioners in the effective conduct of risk assessment and the effective communication of results.

- Appropriate risk assessment tools should be selected, with monitoring to ensure they are used as intended and that they support risk management decision making.

- Clarity of roles and responsibilities for all components of the system.

  • Co-location of professionals for risk management appears very beneficial to facilitate adequate communication. Co-location:

- Enhances the development of a unique culture which supports increased trust and information sharing between professionals from different agencies.

- Facilitates the process of risk management planning by reducing turnaround times and enhancing access to services.

- Where effective colocation is not achievable, clear roles, responsibilities, communication strategies and a common culture around family violence must be developed to ensure a consistent response is provided.

  • Effective communication of risk, using common language, is vital to ensure all professionals understand how an estimation of risk was derived.

- Training is required across government agencies to ensure there is a consistent understanding of family violence - including understanding definitions and patterns of violence. 

- To develop a common language, training should be shared across government agencies, rather than being delivered within agencies.

  • Effective risk management requires a lead agency to take responsibility for the implementation of planned activities. This lead agency also needs to be tasked with the responsibility of regularly reviewing risk in light of developments.

- Agencies need to be aware of each other's roles and responsibilities within the risk management system. 

- Where limitations exist within the family violence risk management system, external resourcing may be required to ensure all risks are effectively addressed.


Read the paper here.

Category: Research