Risk Assessment and Management Panels (RAMPs) have been responding to high-risk family violence cases in the northern metropolitan region for the past seven years.
Pauline Wright, Senior Manager of Berry Street’s Northern Domestic & Family Violence Service and Co Chair of the Hume Moreland and North East Melbourne Area RAMPs, provides insight into how these panels work and what sort of criteria is needed to reach the threshold to be accepted by the RAMP.
RAMPs are a multi-agency response to the highest risk cases. Berry Street is funded to coordinate the Hume Moreland and North East Melbourne Area RAMPs.
The RAMPs meet monthly and consist of core and associate members. Members include representatives from family violence services, Victoria Police, Corrections Victoria, DHHS Child Protection, Child FIRST, men’s behaviour change programs, local hospitals, Maternal and Child Health Services, Centrelink, the Office of Housing, mental health services and alcohol and other drug services. Other services are invited on a case-by-case basis including Aboriginal and homelessness services.
A referral to RAMP sets in chain a complex process of assessment and response. Pauline noted that a referral to RAMP should come as a consequence of a family violence risk assessment, consultation with the RAMP Coordinator and should describe patterns of behaviour, current imminent risk and the history of family violence.
An average of five referrals are accepted by RAMP each month. RAMP Coordinators, Catalina and Krysia, scrutinise each referral to ascertain the threshold of risk. The referring service needs to demonstrate that they have done everything they can to implement an effective safety plan and ‘mitigate risk’ before escalating the case to a RAMP level. In addition, the referring service needs to explain how a multi-agency response will enhance women and children’s safety and assist to hold the perpetrator to account.
‘Lots of work happens in the lead up to the RAMP meeting, by the RAMP Coordinators and others,’ explains Pauline. ‘Victoria Police will often have the perpetrator on a Priority Target Management Plan already, to elevate the need for close monitoring’. Work to mitigate risks can be happening right up until the minute the RAMP meeting begins, for example with the police informing panel members that the perpetrator has just been arrested and charged. This doesn’t mean RAMP will reject the referral. ‘Often perpetrators are already locked up on remand and this is not enough to mitigate the risk,’ explains Pauline. Plans will be made for the perpetrator’s release, when the danger will likely escalate.
Pauline explains that most RAMP cases involve perpetrators without a known address, who are recidivist family violence respondents and have a ‘high disregard for the law’ as well as ‘known criminal connections’.
RAMP develops and reviews actions plans that include child protection interventions; creation of, or addition to intervention orders; and creative problem solving with courts and corrections. Pauline points out that ‘the RAMP action plan sits with the agency already case managing either party, that is to say, RAMP is not a case management response’.
Some successful outcomes of RAMP have included RAMP members being able to provide information about a perpetrator’s whereabouts, which has led to a successful arrest. Other outcomes include ensuring that women have financial security through Centrelink or accommodation through a housing service.
For more information, or to discuss a referral, contact the RAMP Coordinator at Berry Street on (03) 9450 4700.