The Family Violence Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management framework, referred to as MARAM, arose from the Royal Commission into Family Violence. It is a system-wide, consistent approach to identify, assess and manage the risk of family violence. The framework is based on a shared understanding of family violence and a shared responsibility across the service system to increase collaboration and early intervention to best support children, young people and their families.
MARAM applies to entities that are prescribed as framework organisations through the regulations under Part 11 of the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic). Government and non-government schools are prescribed organisations, along with police, child protection, and public hospitals, among others.
This means that the MARAM framework must be adopted by schools. Implementation will be phased in, so that schools can align their policies, procedures, practice guidance and tools to MARAM over a period of time.
Existing child safety obligations, such as Child Safe Standards and mandatory reporting, have not changed. The responsibility that school staff currently hold to identify family violence by receiving disclosures, observing signs of trauma and evidence-based risk factors, remains.
Under MARAM, an added layer will exist. Schools nominate staff who have wellbeing responsibilities – wellbeing coordinator, leadership, etc – who will then carry out screening, referral and basic safety planning when risk factors or signs of trauma indicating possible family violence have been identified.
Screening involves asking questions of victim survivors, which may lead to a disclosure. Basic safety planning is the process by which the school consults with the victim survivor to identify appropriate measures to ensure their health, safety and wellbeing at school. Depending on the circumstances, it may also involve basic safety planning for when the victim survivor is at home, such as ensuring the they are comfortable asking someone to call the police in an emergency.
The screening and basic safety planning must only take place if it is safe, reasonable and appropriate for the nominated staff required to undertake these actions.
The Department of Education (DE) is developing tools, such as checklists, that are recommended for use and designed to be shared with external services when making a referral. DE have committed to providing contextualised guidance and MARAM-targeted training to nominated staff to support them to undertake these responsibilities.
The AEU acknowledges the commitment of school staff to supporting student victim survivors, and welcomes any guidance and training that the department will provide to support school staff to correctly identify, assess and manage family violence risk.
However, we are concerned about the work required by schools as they transition to aligning their policies, procedures and practices with MARAM. The department must ensure that minimising the risk to the health and safety of school staff is prioritised as part of the MARAM requirements.