Family violence risk assessment

To undertake a family violence risk assessment, you need to participate in training in the use of the Brief or Intermediate Risk Assessment tool. This is part of the MARAM training being made available in Victoria.

Below is some introductory information about family violence risk assessment, and links to the tools.

Levels of family violence risk

Family violence risk assessed by MARAM is risk of lethality.

The MARAM framework recognises three levels of family violence risk, ‘At Risk’, ‘Elevated Risk’ and ‘Serious Risk’[1].  The table below provides guidance on identifying the level of risk a victim survivor is experiencing and direction regarding action to take at each risk level.

Risk Level Description
At risk
  • High-risk factors are not present.
  • Some other recognised family violence risk factors are present. However, protective factors and risk management strategies, such as advocacy, information and victim survivor support and referral, are in place to lessen or remove (manage) the risk from the perpetrator.
  • Victim survivor’s self-assessed level of fear and risk is low and safety is high.
Elevated Risk
  • A number of risk factors are present, including some high-risk factors. Risk is likely to continue if risk management is not initiated/increased.
Serious Risk
  • A number of high-risk factors are present.
  • Frequency or severity of risk factors may have changed/ escalated.
  • Serious outcomes may have occurred from current violence and it is indicated further serious outcomes from the use of violence by the perpetrator is likely and may be imminent.
  • Immediate risk management is required to lessen the level of risk or prevent a serious outcome from the identified threat posed by the perpetrator. Statutory and non-statutory service responses are required, and co-ordinated and collaborative risk management and action planning may be required.
  • Victim survivor’s self-assessed level of fear and risk is high to extremely high and safety is low.
  • Most serious risk cases can be managed by standard responses (including by providing crisis or emergency responses by statutory and non-statutory (e.g. specialist family violence) services). There are some cases where serious risk cases cannot be managed by standard responses and require formally convened crisis responses.
Serious risk and requires immediate protection In addition to serious risk, as outlined above:

  • Previous strategies for risk management have been unsuccessful.
  • Escalation of severity of violence has occurred/likely to occur.
  • Formally structured coordination and collaboration of service and agency responses is required. Involvement from statutory and non-statutory crisis response services is required (including possible referral for a RAMP response) for risk assessment and management planning and intervention to lessen or remove serious risk that is likely to result in lethality or serious physical or sexual violence.
  • Victim survivor self-assessed level of fear and risk is high to extremely high and safety is extremely low.

Perpetrator drug and / or alcohol misuse is one of the identified as increased risk of the victim being killed or almost killed. When a client in an AOD service is identified as a perpetrator of family violence, it is likely to be classified as elevated risk or serious risk.

Structured Professional Judgement

Structured Professional Judgement is the practice model that underpins risk assessment to support you to determine the level of risk and inform risk management responses:

Model of Professional Structured Judgement

Your analysis of the four elements of the model and application of your professional experience, skills and knowledge are the process by which you determine the level of risk.

MARAM Family Violence Risk Assessment Tools

The questions in the MARAM Family Violence Risk Assessment Tool are designed to support victim survivors to tell you about their experience of family violence, to inform you about the current level of risk and history of violence. Depending on your job role, once you have identified family violence risk, it is likely that as an AOD clinician, you are able to assess the level of family violence risk using the MARAM Brief and/or Intermediate Assessment Tool.

MARAM Responsibility 3: Practice Guide Intermediate Risk Assessment Practice Guide Intermediate Risk Assessment  provides background information on how to assess family violence risk. The Intermediate Assessment Tool within a table of practice guidance about each question to support response can be found here.

MARAM assessment tools include:

  • The Brief Assessment Tool reflecting high-risk factors only, to be used in time-critical interventions.
  • The Intermediate Assessment Tool includes a broader range of evidence based risk factors experienced by adults and questions about risk to children
  • The Child Victim Survivor Assessment Tool includes a summary of adult risk factors, questions about a child’s risk and a separate set of questions for direct assessment of an older child or young person.


[1] Source: MARAM Practice Guide Responsibility 3: Intermediate Risk Assessment