ANROWS has released research which identifies key gaps in our judiciaries’ knowledge of DFV intervention programs. The paper also provides recommendations to address the divide.
Australia’s judiciary sentences perpetrators, makes family violence intervention orders, and refers men to behaviour change programs. Despite this critical role in justice, there is little evidence to show that the judiciary understand perpetrator interventions and how they operate in practice.
The research sample held mixed views on the effectiveness of perpetrator interventions, and a concerning hesitation with regards to men’s behaviour change programs. The researchers uncovered that many officers across Australia express a lack of knowledge about perpetrator referral options, in relation to both the availability and nature of the programs.
In summary, the ANROWS paper demonstrates a gap in knowledge of intervention programs and best management of perpetrators of DFV. The paper does outline key recommendations for reform, which includes:
- To assist in judicial decision-making, consideration should be given to developing guidance on seeking and making use of a perpetrator’s history of interventions (e.g. FVIOs, prior sentences, and program attendance) in all DFV matters, including in sentencing.
- All states and territories should consider contributing to the development and maintenance of a centralised online register of perpetrator intervention programs, to be coordinated through the relevant government departments, to ensure that information is readily available to support judicial decision-making and referral in DFV matters.
- Courts and judicial educational bodies should consider exploring and developing guidance on the role of judicial officers in creating system accountability regarding perpetrators of DFV. Clarity on the parameters of this role will allow for the development of more consistent sentencing and other outcomes for DFV perpetrators across jurisdictions.