New framework helps lawyers identify family violence risks in clients

New framework helps lawyers identify family violence risks in clients

Friday, 19 February 2016

Victoria Legal Aid has begun its pilot of a new Client Safety Framework to help lawyers identify and respond to safety risk factors including the risk of family violence among our clients.

The framework is being developed by our Family Violence program, in consultation with family violence experts and Victoria Legal Aid staff, as part of a two year project to improve our family violence services and education.

Victoria Legal Aid Managing Director Bevan Warner said the framework would see safer long term outcomes for clients and their families.

‘The Client Safety Framework and further family violence training will give us consistency in recognising and responding to safety risk factors –  such as stalking, escalating violence, controlling behaviour or a recent separation – so we can work with clients, the courts and other services to reduce the likelihood of it continuing.’

Acting Executive Director of Family, Youth and Children’s Law Leanne Sinclair said lawyers will be able to apply the framework to identify safety risk factors. This will help us identify potential victims and perpetrators among those who are currently not presenting with family violence matters, as well as those who are.

Who contributed

An Expert Advisory Group has contributed to the project including:

  • Rodney Vlais, Manager of No To Violence
  • Helen Matthew, Women’s Legal Service’s Principal Lawyer
  • Dr Marg Liddell, Senior Lecturer at RMIT University’s School of Global, Urban and Social Studies
  • Jo Howard, Kildonan Uniting Care’s Executive Manager
  • Molly O’Shaughnessy, SafeSteps’ General Manager  
  • Allie Bailey, Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner at the Sunshine Family Relationship Centre.

The bigger picture

The Client Safety Framework is one element of an overarching Family Violence Service Delivery and Education Framework which aims to strengthen risk identification, improve our relationships with other family violence service providers and extend our community legal education through programs such as Settled and Safe.

The pilot involves 18 of our lawyers, who have already undergone training, applying the Client Safety Framework as part of their work.

Ms Sinclair said the training had already provided valuable feedback and she was looking forward to finalising the framework based on further feedback from the trial.

More information

Our research released this week reveals risk factors for continuing family violence and will inform the development a Client Safety Framework to support families experiencing violence.