Talking Point: How Safety Planning for Family Violence informs Risk Assessment, presented by Susan George & Stephen Herd on 12th July 2023

Asking questions about how victim/survivors have responded to family violence consists of identifying their attempts to keep themselves and their children safe, and attempts to reduce or limit the violence and harm caused to them and their children. This approach is based on ‘following the lead’ of the victim/survivor thus ensuring her safety planning is individualised through collaboration. These attempts by women and children to resist family violence, whether they are successful or not, are critical in understanding and informing the severity and level of risk of family violence that she and her children are having to respond to.

This approach to family violence risk assessment through safety planning hears and validates the victim/survivor’s experiences and places their safety and agency at the centre of our work. The practitioner’s understanding of her responses to family violence shifts the focus away from the person being a passive victim, toward recognising the person makes active choices based on safety. These active choices can be viewed as ‘acts of resistance’ which increase dignity. The responsibility for the family violence always remains with the adult using family violence.

This approach will be explored through video clips, the voice of victim survivors and opportunities for questions.

Watch the presentation

About the presenters

Susan George is a Social Worker and has extensive experience in the family violence specialist and community sectors, primarily with those experiencing family violence. She brings her experience from working with family violence in the AOD and Housing Sectors, as a Specialist Family Violence Advisor (AOD), and more recently in the Strengthening Hospital Response to Family Violence (SHRFV) program in several hospital settings. 

Stephen Herd is a Social Worker whose current role is Specialist Family Violence Advisor (AOD) sited at Turning Point in Melbourne. There he supports the rollout of MARAM, building capability and capacity in recognising and responding to family violence in the AOD workforce. He brings to the role around 15 years of family violence experience, especially working with men who use family violence. He has worked in that capacity as a telephone counsellor and men’s behaviour change co-facilitator. More recently, Stephen has worked in the prison system as a clinician within a complex needs team.