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Violence against women and their children affects everybody. It impacts on the health, wellbeing and safety of a significant proportion of Australians throughout all states and territories and places an enormous burden on the nation’s economy across family and community services, health and hospitals, income-support and criminal justice systems.

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ANROWS was established by the Commonwealth and all state and territory governments of Australia to produce, disseminate and assist in applying evidence for policy and practice addressing violence against women and their children.

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New research to help hold perpetrators of domestic and family violence accountable
Posted in Media releases

New research to help hold perpetrators of domestic and family violence accountable

Wednesday, 1st July 2020


“Holding perpetrators accountable” is often highlighted as a key goal for policies designed to reduce domestic and family violence. A new report from ANROWS explores what “accountability” actually means in practice, and how it can be achieved.

Led by Professor Donna Chung from Curtin University, this research comprised ten studies looking at Australian perpetrator intervention systems. Improved accountability: The role of perpetrator intervention systems examines how systems can improve the engagement and retention of perpetrators.

“Accountability can take different forms, and these different forms don’t always align. In fact, they can come into conflict with each other,” said Professor Chung.

“For example, when a crime is prosecuted, the legal process is about ensuring accountability to the state, not to the victim. That kind of accountability might not acknowledge the impact of violence on the victim, or align with her wishes. It might not promote her safety. And if the perpetrator ends up being held accountable by the court, this can make it less likely that he takes personal responsibility for his violence.”

The study found that a wide range of human services agencies engage with perpetrators of domestic violence. However, they do not necessarily identify these individuals as perpetrators of violence, and when they do, they do not necessarily know how to respond appropriately.

“This research suggests that we need to broaden our idea of perpetrator intervention systems and what they do,” said ANROWS CEO Dr Heather Nancarrow. “If that understanding includes a wide range of human services agencies, it will increase the capacity of systems to identify perpetrators and to manage risk earlier.”

The report also found that men who are excluded from the family home by police or a court order need access to crisis accommodation. Without crisis accommodation, they can face homelessness and subsequent increased difficulty accessing services, which can further escalate their risk of using violence.

Finalising ANROWS’s current research into perpetrator interventions

The publication of this and three other reports brings to a close ANROWS’s three-year Perpetrator Interventions Research Stream, funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.

This program of research has published the findings of 13 projects, in partnership with researchers from many of Australia’s prominent research institutions. The research has produced and shared important knowledge on effectively engaging men in behavior change programs, tailoring interventions for specific groups of men (such as young people, LGBTQ groups, men from refugee or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds), and improving collaborative practices.

“These projects show the diversity of work ANROWS has undertaken to hold men who use violence accountable and stop their violence,” said Dr Nancarrow.

“The insights provided by this research are crucial for those designing and funding services and for policy-makers who are ensuring our national strategies are focused and effective.”

For further information, contact Michele Robinson at ANROWS
on +61 0417 780 556 or email michele.robinson@anrows.org.au.


About ANROWS

Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety Limited (ANROWS) is a not-for-profit independent national research organisation.

ANROWS is an initiative of Australia’s National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022. ANROWS was established by the Commonwealth and all state and territory governments of Australia to produce, disseminate and assist in applying evidence for policy and practice addressing violence against women and their children.

ANROWS is the only such research organisation in Australia.



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