Family Violence Risk Assessment and The Need for Wholistic Perspectives that Look Beyond the Individual

Dr Caroline Spiranovic1

1University Of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia

This presentation contributes towards a panel session on multi-disciplinary perspectives on family violence, through considering the importance of multi-disciplinary perspectives in risk assessment.

A broad range of professionals (e.g. psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, child protection workers and other allied health professionals) and criminal justice agencies (e.g. police, courts, correctional services and parole boards) are required to undertake risk assessments in family violence contexts. Each of these professionals will be undertaking these assessments in different contexts and for different purposes. They will often draw upon their experience as well as evidence in their professions or agency to guide their decisions about risk. Many of these professionals and agencies will also draw upon evidence-based instruments to guide their risk assessments. Yet these professionals undertake this important work in the absence of a robust evidence base in Australia and many evidence-based instruments we use are borrowed from overseas. There have been calls for national consistency in risk assessment approaches to ensure evidence-based factors and approaches are adopted.

Against this backdrop, this paper will explore the importance of drawing on the evidence base from different fields of knowledge to provide wholistic assessments of family violence risk that consider not only individual risk factors but also contextual risk factors. There is much we can learn for instance from the new multidisciplinary knowledge emerging from the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the influence of broader contextual factors on serious crimes such as family violence. Drawing knowledge from a diverse range of perspectives, this paper will highlight the importance of considering a broad range of not only risk factors but also protective factors, some of which may reside within the individual whereas others may reflect situations and environments the individual interacts with.


Caroline has a PhD in Psychology and teaches multidisciplinary units in law that bring together the fields of psychology, law, and criminology. She also trains Tasmania Police in investigative interviewing techniques. Her research is multi-disciplinary and focuses on prevention of violence.


Dec 08 2021