Victims/survivors of domestic abuse - multi-agency risk assessment and interventions: report
A report relating to the development of Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (Maracs) covering views, themes and recommendations identified at a series of stakeholder deep dive sessions in 2021.
11. Authentic Voice and Intersectionality
52. Attendees were asked to consider:
i. Authentic Voice
- - How to ensure processes for assessing the risks and needs of victims/survivors are shaped by their authentic voice and experiences of domestic abuse; and
- - How existing practice could be strengthened and any areas of good practice to learn from and expand.
- - How to ensure processes like Maracs are inclusive and respond to the diverse and complex needs and experiences of all affected by domestic abuse;
- - The extent to which they currently take into account the additional barriers faced by those with protected characteristics; and
- - What is needed to strengthen current processes and interventions and if there are any areas of good practice to learn from and expand.
53. Key messages from the deep dive included:
- Intervention and action should always be informed by the lived experiences of women and children and the involvement of trained Idaas is crucial to bringing the experiences of women and children to the table;
- Training and interventions should be cognisant of women with varied and complex needs as well as the additional barriers faced by those with protected characteristics.
Key Discussion Points
- Victims/survivors can sometimes be concerned about the level of information sharing that takes place through the Marac process. Organisations involved in Maracs should always be clear with victims/survivors when information is being shared, with whom, and why;
- The involvement of specialist support organisations, like Women's Aid groups and other specialist domestic abuse services, is crucial as they bring the real experiences of victims/survivors to the table. It is also important to consider how to ensure the voice of victims/survivors referred by other agencies are also represented within the process;
- In general, it takes a long time to build up a trusting relationship with a victim/survivor and authentic views emerge through strong relationships with support workers that develops over time, rather than in a few meetings;
- The extent to which agencies can effectively advocate for victims/survivors depends on the understanding of Marac processes from external bodies.
55. When asked about Intersectionality, attendees highlighted:
- Minority ethnic women face additional barriers in being referred to Marac;
- Community-based minority ethnic organisations may not have experience of Maracs, but have bespoke specialist experience that can lead to effective partnership working with others;
- Maracs don't adequately capture sensitivities around immigration status;
- Depending on what and how they are applied, risk assessment processes may not currently sensitively capture how different groups experience domestic abuse, e.g. older women, disabled women etc.
Themes for Further Discussion
56. The following themes emerged from the deep dive session as key issues and possible actions to be explored. They will be considered as part of the Advisory Group's development of recommendations and an action/implementation plan:
i. How can we ensure authentic voice and the experience of victims/survivors is woven through the Marac infrastructure and associated outcomes?
- Responses could include work with equality organisations to develop or update training for Marac chairs, co-ordinators and representatives that is cognisant of the additional complexities of women and children with protected characteristics.
ii. How can we tackle institutional discrimination and ensure that the needs and unique experiences of women and children from marginalised communities is reflected at Marac and associated processes?
This may involve:
- Including more organisations that work with marginalised communities at Marac and associated processes
- Consulting with victims/survivors from marginalised communities
- Research to pinpoint direct barriers to access Marac, and creating an action plan with stakeholders to overcome them.
iii. How can we develop an understanding of how well current systems and structures respond to the needs of women with protected characteristics and/or complex needs, and identify gaps or areas for improvement?
- This could involve organising a mapping/analysis of current systems and structures.
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