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2.3.2 Family and domestic violence response team

Last Modified: 15-Apr-2019 Review Date: 04-Jan-2021

Purpose

To guide the practice of Senior Child Protection workers – Family and Domestic Violence (SCPW-FDV) in the Family and Domestic Violence Response Teams (FDVRTs); and Men's Domestic Violence Helpline (MDVHL) who are responsible for triage of Category two Family Violence Incident Reports (FVIRs) where children and unborn babies are identified.

It provides information about the role of the SCPW-FDV, including their relationship to the Metropolitan Central Intake Team (CIT) and the district office. The entry does not include practice information about identifying and responding to family and domestic violence (FDV) as this is covered in other entries within this chapter. 

Practice Requirements
  • SCPW-FDV must work in collaboration with Western Australia Police Force (WAPOL) and the Co-ordinated Response Service (CRS) in the FDVRT to:
    • share risk-relevant information with FDVRT partner agencies
    • conduct joint assessment of Category 1 FVIRs that involve children and unborn babies[1]
    • make joint decisions about which families receive a response and who is best placed to provide the follow-up
    • coordinate responses between FDVRT partner agencies, and
    • share responsibility for convening multi-agency case management (MACM) as required for high risk cases of FDV.
  • Child Protection Workers and Senior Child Protection Worker with the MDVHL will collaborate with the FDVRT and contracted services to provide holistic and coordinated responses to metropolitan Category 2 FVIRs where children and/or women who are pregnant have been identified. MDVHL will:
    • identify any child protection concerns, including open cases to the Department of Communities Child Protection and Family Support district office (the Department)
    • contact perpetrators of FDV, who are identified in FVIRs, to offer support, safety planning and/or referral to men's behaviour change programs
    • coordinate responses with contracted family and domestic violence services,
    • provide feedback to FDVRTs as appropriate.
  • Operation of the FDVRT, including the roles and responsibilities of the SCPW-FDV and MDVHL, must be guided by the FDVRT Operating Procedures.
  • SCPW-FDV must have the skills to work autonomously within a multi-agency co-located team. This includes the relevant practice knowledge to assess FVIRs and make decisions, including an awareness of when to consult with their team leader. It is important for SCPW-FDV and MDVHL staff to maintain a reporting relationship with their team leader for administrative and operational guidance, line management and supervision.
  • The SCPW-FDV and MDVHL worker must access and use the Triage Application in line with the FDVRT Triage User Guide (also in related resources).

[1] In country regions the SCPW-FDV may also be triaging Category 2 FVIRs.

Procedures

  • Overview
  • Receiving Family Violence Incident Reports from WA Police
  • Open cases to the Department
  • Child protection concerns
  • Recording outcomes and action taken
  • Joint assessment and triage
  • Triage of category 2 FVIRs, with children by MDVHL
  • Joint responses with WA police and CRS
  • Multi-agency case management
  • Collaboration and exchange of information regarding serious offenders
  • Family Violence Incident Reports and Affidavits
  • Overview

    The FDVRT is a partnership between the Department, WAPOL and CRS. CRS is a non-government domestic violence service provider. The role of the FDVRT is to provide a coordinated and collaborative response to FVIRs.

    Exposure to FDV is a form of emotional abuse that places children and unborn babies at risk of emotional and physical abuse and neglect. The FDVRT focuses on early intervention through improved information sharing and processes for joint assessment, triage and coordinated case management of families identified in FVIRs. 

    The role of the SCPW-FDV is to partner with WAPOL and CRS to assess and respond to Category 1 FVIRs where children or unborn children were identified as present or known to reside. The role of the MDVHL is to assess and respond to Category 2 FVIRs where children have been identified (metropolitan and Peel districts). Both the SCPW-FDV and MDVHL will provide a conduit to the district office for FVIRs pertaining to open cases and/or FVIRs which require a Safety and Wellbeing Assessment (SWA); and the Metropolitan Central Intake Team for those that require intake for Initial Inquiry.

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    Receiving Family Violence Incident Reports from WA Police

    SCPW-FDV and MDVHL access FVIRs from the Triage Application. Refer to the FDVRT Triage User Guide (in related resources) for guidance about accessing and using the system. For information about how WA Police define FDV refer to Police Definitions for Reporting FDV - WA Police (in related resources).

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    Open cases to the Department

    Families with an open case to the Department require a response when domestic violence has been identified. It is the case manager's responsibility to assess an FVIR and then co-ordinate a response to support the victim and hold the perpetrator accountable for their abuse. A coordinated response can include the SCPW-FDV and other agencies attached to the FDVRT, as well as any other services providing support to the family. If the adult and child victims are assessed as being at high risk of serious harm, then the case worker should convene a multi-agency case management meeting (MACM). To determine if an adult victim is at high risk of serious harm a risk assessment tool should be completed. 

    Where a FVIR relates to a family that has an open period of contact with the Department, and the family is being case-managed, the SCPW-FDV and MDVHL worker must publish the FVIR to an open interaction and add the case worker's name in the 'Assigned To' field. Followed by an email to the case worker informing them of the FVIR and open interaction. Once the appropriate next actions have been determined, the case worker must complete the initial assessment and close the interaction in Assist.

    The Department has a responsibility to provide a response to parents of children who are in care, when they are experiencing FDV. This is particularly important in cases where reunification is part of the case plan and/or contact visits are occurring. Reunification attempts and contact visits will be negatively impacted whilst the adult victim is experiencing FDV. It is also important to recognise that parents with children in care may be reluctant to report FDV to Police due to a fear that by doing so will negatively impact reunification with their children.

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    Child protection concerns

    Decisions about whether the Department has a role in cases where a child has been exposed to family and domestic violence (FDV) must be informed by the practice requirements outlined in the CPM entry  Assessing Emotional Abuse – Family and Domestic Violence.

    All SCPW-FDV are required to attend Threshold Interaction Toolkit training offered by Learning and Development. This tool requires staff to gather a range of current and historical risk factors in order to assist with determining if an intake is required. All SCPW-FDV are required to attend the Learning and Development Interaction Toolkit training.

    When child protection concerns have been identified, including an incident report of abuse perpetrated against a child and/or pregnant mother, the SCPW-FDV or MDVHL worker must as a matter of priority:

    • check whether the referral has already been received and actioned by the Crisis Care Unit (CCU), Central Intake Team (CIT) or the district office (if already an open case), and if not
    • refer the interaction to the CIT for initial inquiry. If the presenting information requires an initial inquiry, staff will publish the relevant FVIR to an open interaction and refer it to the CIT. When assigning to the CIT an email must be sent to CPDUTY@communities.wa.gov.au with the interaction details
    • or refer the interaction to the district Child Safety Team (CST) for a SWA. If it has been assessed that a child may have been harmed as a result of emotional abuse – FDV (exposure) or any other form of abuse, then an intake can be referred directly to the district CST for further assessment. In these instances, staff will consult with the district CST Team Leader, prior to publishing the relevant FVIR to an open interaction. It is the responsibility of the CST to complete the intake to SWA, however the CST Team Leader can allocate this task to the SCPW-FDV depending on their workload demands
    • an open interaction referred to CIT or the CST should contain a history check from ASSIST, any action already taken, and an assessment of the current concerns. Any action taken and recorded in an interaction must be consistent with practice guidance in CPM 2.2 Assessment and Investigation.

    See FVIR Pathways for Intake flowchart, in the related resources for additional information.

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    Recording outcomes and action taken

    ​SCPW-FDV and MDVHL staff will:

    • record assessment and triage outcomes in the 'decisions' section of the triage portal
    • publish an FVIR to Assist when:
      • it is an open case
      • the Department is involved in providing a response or
      • the case will be recommended for intake.
    • record their action taken in an Assist interaction.

    Recording action taken, such as telephone calls or home visits, in an interaction must be consistent with CPM 2.2 Assessment and Investigation. Therefore SCPW-FDV staff must be clear on the type of information they can gather and record in an interaction. Typically a telephone call or home visit to a victim of FDV, will be for the purpose of:

    • clarifying information about the FVIR
    • collecting information to assess FDV Risk
    • collecting information relevant to the Interaction Intake Tool
    • providing information and advice about FDV support services, and
    • attempting contact with a perpetrator if safe to do so.

    Any action that is in response to identified child protection concerns, and for the purpose of determining whether the Department has a clear ongoing role, must be referred to CIT or CST in regional areas.

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    Joint assessment and triage

    The FDVRT conducts joint assessment and triage of all Category 1 FVIRS. In some regional locations the FDVRT will also triage Category 2 FVIRs that include children. The SCPW-FDV is involved in joint assessment and triage of Category 1 (and where relevant, Category 2) FVIRs that include children. MDVHL is involved in the triage of Category 2 FVIRs that include children across the metropolitan and Peel districts. The joint assessment process is underpinned by the Common Risk Assessment and Risk Management Framework (in related resources).

    The SCPW-FDV should contribute the following information to the FDVRT for joint assessment of FVIRs:

    • whether or not the family has a current open period of contact with the Department
    • relevant family history with the Department
    • other information relevant to risk and safety, and
    • professional judgments about risk and safety of the child and adult victim.

    FDVRT make joint/collaborative decisions about which FVIRs receive a response and the FDVRT agency responsible for providing follow-up with the family. If the family identified in the FVIR is Aboriginal, and unsuccessful attempts have been made to contact and support the family, the SCPW-FDV should consult with the district Aboriginal Practice Leader (or other relevant Aboriginal officer), as appropriate. An APL may be able to provide information and advice regarding a particular family, or general advice about engaging with families in a culturally safe way. 

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    Triage of category 2 FVIRs, with children by MDVHL

    MDVHL will review and triage Category 2 FVIRs with children in metropolitan and Peel districts, and:

    • identify open cases, create an interaction and forward the open cases to the case manager
    • identify child protection concerns and initiate a referral to the CIT or CST
    • identify perpetrators and attempt to make telephone and SMS contact to offer support, safety planning, and/or referral to a behaviour change program
    • provide referrals to contracted family and domestic violence services for support to adult victims when a decision is made to attempt contact with a perpetrator, and
    • provide feedback to FDVRTs as appropriate.

    The MDVHL worker, in consultation with their line manager, is responsible for determining which cases are referred to the CIT or CST for intake.

    For more information about engaging with and safety planning with perpetrators of FDV, see CPM entry - 2.3.4 Responding to perpetrators of emotional abuse - family and domestic violence.   

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    Joint responses with WA police and CRS

    FDVRT partner agencies provide joint responses to families identified in FVIRs. This includes joint visits and/or meetings with the adult victim or perpetrator.

    The SCPW-FDV should only be involved in joint responses where there is a clear role or purpose for the Department.

    Worker and adult/child victim safety must be the primary considerations when home visits are planned. Refer to Chapter 2.3: Assessing Emotional Abuse - Family and Domestic Violence and Managing Safe Client Contact with the Department (also in related resources).

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    Multi-agency case management

    FDVRT partner agencies share responsibility for convening multi-agency case management (MACM) for high risk of serious harm cases of FDV. Refer to FDVRT Operational Guidelines (also in related resources) for more information.

    Where the FDVRT consider that MACM is necessary for a family that is an open case to the Department, SCPW-FDV will discuss this with the case manager. In these circumstances, it is the responsibility of the team leader to delegate the MACM to a staff member with the appropriate skills to convene a MACM meeting.

    For families with children that are not an open case to the Department, the role of the SCPW-FDV in MACM is to contribute relevant information about prior contacts with the Department and information about services provided.

    MACM is supported by the Memorandum of Understanding MOU - Information Sharing between Agencies with Responsibilities for Preventing and Responding to Family and Domestic Violence in Western Australia (also in related resources).

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    Collaboration and exchange of information regarding serious offenders

    In August 2013, the Department, WA Police and Department of Corrective Services signed the Tripartite Schedule: Collaboration and Exchange of Information Regarding Serious Domestic Violence Offenders to support information exchange and collaborative case management of serious domestic violence offenders (in related resources).

    Practice guidance to support the tripartite schedule, including instructions about how the Department and WA Police can register a victim on the Victim Notification Register is available in Guidelines for Collaboration and Exchange of Information Regarding Serious Domestic Violence Offenders (also in related resources).

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    Family Violence Incident Reports and Affidavits

    FVIRs provided to the Department by WA Police can be used at the Departments discretion for a range of purposes, including attaching to an affidavit to support care and protection order proceedings. Although this discretion is available to us, child protection workers should exercise caution when using FVIRs for this purpose, remembering that respondent parties receive copies of the affidavit and attachments during court proceedings. Child protection workers should consider the following when deciding whether to attach a FVIR to an affidavit:

    • FVIRs are not 'factual accounts' - the information provided in a FVIR reflects a point in time account of what a responding police officer has seen and been told
    • safety of the parties identified - FVIRs often contain disclosures made by the adult victim. Should the perpetrator obtain this information it may escalate the risk to the adult victim and child, and
    • identity and safety of the notifier - FVIRs identify the name, phone number and residential address of the person who reported the domestic violence incident.

    Where the child protection worker considers that the information contained in the FVIR should not be provided to respondent parties, the following options are available:

    • FVIRs can be redacted by the child protection worker so that any information which may compromise the safety of the adult victim and/or other parties is eliminated prior to swearing of the affidavit
    • rather than attaching a FVIR to an affidavit, the relevant information can be summarised by the child protection worker in the body of the affidavit.

    Where sensitive information in a FVIR is highly relevant to an application and the above options do not address concerns adequately, contact the Legal Query Duty at Child Protection Legal Unit to discuss the appropriate legal approach.

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