The High Risk Client Strategy is an innovative and groundbreaking project that was piloted in Melbourne’s west between September 2008 and August 2010 to respond to women at extreme risk of lethality due to family violence. The Strategy is a rapid, coordinated, multi-agency and integrated response that assessed and managed women’s safety and welfare with the aim of preventing a serious injury or lethality. Unlike other similar strategies, it places women at the centre by including them in all decisions and safety planning. It is still operating today.
The Strategy is overseen by a Critical Reference Group made up of Victoria Police, Women’s Health West, Melton East and Bacchus Marsh Community Health Centres (now Djerriwarrh Health Centre), Relationships Australia Victoria and Lifeworks.
In 2011, an evaluation of the Strategy’s two-year pilot was commissioned by the Critical Reference Group and was undertaken by WLK Consulting, with support from Victoria Police and Department of Human Services. Evaluation findings are now available.
The evaluation report found that the strategy achieved its aims with great economy, preventing 16 women from extreme family violence over a two-year period without any additional funding. However, the report strongly recommends further roll-out and capacity building, with additional funding to coordinate this process.
The report also recommends:
- The continuation of the Strategy in Melbourne’s west, with Victoria Police in a leadership role and a stronger understanding amongst all Victoria Police members and the wider service system of the Strategy
- The re-branding of the Strategy as an ‘extreme risk strategy’ to reflect the level of risk
- The roll-out of the strategy to another region, preferably neighbouring Melbourne’s west, with the Critical Reference Group playing a mentoring role
A full copy of the evaluation report can be downloaded here