Download the Risk Assessment and Management Framework [PDF 1.2MB]

All domestic and family violence should be considered a risk which requires a response. [1]

This framework outlines a common approach to understanding domestic and family violence. It builds a shared understanding of the nature of domestic and family violence and provides a common language for describing it.

The framework also establishes a common approach to screening, assessing and managing domestic and family violence risk. This will enable a more confident, consistent and effective response across the broad service system.

This framework has been developed in consultation with key stakeholders in the ACT.

The development also drew on the significant work done in other jurisdictions in Australia and internationally and considered the National Risk Assessment Principles for domestic and family violence produced by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS).

The framework was released as a draft in 2020 while it was used and trialled in 2020 and 2021. Feedback from those trials has been incorporated in this version.

Why we need a new approach

Domestic and family violence is a pervasive and serious problem in Australia.

On average:

Consultation with survivors of domestic violence in the ACT has shown that they can often experience the service system as fragmented, inconsistent and hard to navigate (sometimes to the point that they give up trying to seek support).

There was so much paperwork. When you are in the middle of all of this it is just too hard to do. The responsibility is all on the victim. [6]

Others reported that a range of mainstream services failed to notice the signs or hints victim-survivors were giving them about the violence they were living with. Some spoke of the need to repeat their personal story over and over again, and others found the system made them feel at fault.

People’s reactions to my trauma made me feel like it was my problem. [7]

At the same time, those consultations (and previous ACT reports) showed the importance of commonly used mainstream services as the first touch points for help seeking for those living with domestic and family violence.

This problem is not unique to the ACT. Nationally and internationally jurisdictions are recognising the need for a new system-wide approach that, ‘helps victim-survivors, perpetrators and their families through the complex network of providers, practitioners and services towards a consistent and effective outcome.’ [8]

Victims, perpetrators and their families, ‘must not be left to flounder on their own, disengage or go without support because they couldn’t navigate the system.’ [9]

If the broad service system is going to deliver effective responses to domestic and family violence it is critical that it offers a consistent, informed, integrated and supportive approach to domestic and family violence.

Why a risk assessment framework?

The prevalence of domestic and family violence and the profound and diverse effects on the health and wellbeing of victim-survivors means that responses often involve multiple services.

The involvement of different services can result in strong and collaborative responses that collectively keep the victim-survivors safe and hold perpetrators to account. However, when services do not work together, the risk and vulnerability of victim-survivors can increase.

Research and reviews have shown that a common risk assessment and risk management framework is one strategy for assisting a jurisdiction to improve knowledge and confidence, and ensure consistent, informed, integrated and effective identification and appropriate responses to domestic and family violence. As a review of the Victorian framework found:

…those who use the framework testify to its utility in working with women on identifying and understanding their own risk and supporting the professional judgement of support workers in a range of contexts. [10]


[1] Toivonen and Backhouse (2018) National Risk Assessment Principles for domestic and family violence, ANROWS.

[2] Our Watch (2020) Quick Facts.

[3] Our Watch (2020) Quick Facts.

[4] ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) (2016) Personal Safety, Australia, 2016.

[5] Our Watch (2020) Quick Facts.

[6] ACT Government (2018) Family Safety Hub Design: Insights Report, p.98.

[7] ACT Government (2018) Family Safety Hub Design: Insights Report, p.49.

Page updated: 13 Jul 2022