Family violence: Effort ramps up to help women, children

A new program to help women and children at risk of family violence is coming to the western suburbs.

The state government has pledged $2.2 million over the next four years to set up two risk assessment and management panels (RAMP) across the west after successful pilots in Hume and Geelong.

RAMP brings together family violence groups, the Department of Human Services, Corrections Department, police and courts and provides practical assistance to women and children at high risk.

State Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge said there would be two RAMPs in the western suburbs, one for Brimbank and Melton, the other covering Maribyrnong, Hobsons Bay, Wyndham, Melbourne, Moonee Valley and Port Phillip.

Representatives of health service Women’s Health West and Victoria Police will chair meetings of both RAMPs.

“This funding will enable immediate practical assistance and case management support for women and children at imminent risk of serious injury or death as a result of family violence,” Ms Wooldridge said.

“It means women and children at high risk of violence can be supported and protected in a co-ordinated way under a response that brings together Victoria Police, child protection, housing, corrections, health and family violence services to plan for the safety of the woman and her children and hold the perpetrator to account.”

Women’s Health West family violence services manager Jacky Tucker said the organisation received about 600 police referrals a month for family violence.

“We’ve previously had an extreme risk model with Victoria Police, which was about immediate response,” she said.

“This enables us to include women at high risk [but] who may not be in immediate risk. It makes us more effective in managing what may be dangerous situations for women and children.”

The state government has also allocated $3.2 million over four years to increase family services support across the western suburbs.