Improving services for
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and men
ANROWS Notepad | 17 December 2020
FROM THE CEO
Season’s greetings and a reflection on the year
As the holiday season approaches and many of us look forward to a well-earned break with loved ones, I’d like to send my thanks to you for your tireless work through a demanding and difficult year.
Looking back at the last 12 months I recognise the extraordinary commitment of the researchers, practitioners, and policy and practice design decision-makers around Australia who are working to end violence against women and their children.
I want to thank every one of you who has supported ANROWS—all of you who sought out our evidence, came to our webinars, shared our information and resources in your networks, and asked us challenging and important questions.
My gratitude also goes to our partner organisations, and of course to our funders—principally the Australian Government Department of Social Services and each of the states and territories, which collectively provide the core grant that makes all of our work possible.
Importantly, I also want to thank the ANROWS staff, management and Board for an extraordinarily productive and influential year. This is a welcome opportunity to reflect on the outcomes of our efforts.
We should be proud to note that in 2020 we saw our evidence contribute to:
- reforms to child protection and domestic and family violence policy and practice in Queensland
- a family violence training e-learning package for professionals working in and with the Family Court
- training to build understanding of domestic and family violence at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal
- reform of the Evidence Act 1906 (WA).
2021 will see ANROWS intensify its focus on driving research to support policy and practice design decision-makers, following the results of an internal strategic review and planning exercise in the first half of 2020 and the independent review commissioned by the Department of Social Services, which comes with the end of each core grant period. Both reviews concluded that ANROWS should focus its resources and activities more intensely towards policy (including legal policy and systems-wide practice design), taking ANROWS to the next stage of maturity as a national research organisation.
In support of this focus, ANROWS produced Australia’s National Research Agenda to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children (ANRA 2020–2022), released in October 2020. ANRA 2020–2022 has five key priority topics within an overarching intersectional framework. Priority 1 (Children and young people) formed the basis of a competitive grants round for the 2020–2022 ANROWS Core Grant Research Program. We aim to announce early in the new year a policy-focused program of research addressing the needs of children and young people in marginalised populations affected by domestic, family and sexual violence against women.
This program of research will be carried out in addition to the current Fourth Action Plan Research Program, and the National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women (NCAS) Research Program. Both of these research programs, led by Dr Dominiek Coates and Dr Christine Coumarelos, respectively, are funded solely by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.
The evidence that we create and the resources we produce for policy, under the leadership of Michele Robinson, Director of Evidence to Action, will continue to be available for practitioners and the wider community on the ANROWS website. News of our, and others’, activities will continue to be made available through Notepad.
I look forward to the year ahead, collaborating with our research partners and stakeholders to create a safer world for women and their children. Until then I extend my best wishes to all of you for a happy, healthy and restorative festive season.
Vale Angela Hartwig
Today we commemorate the life and contribution of Angela Hartwig, the long-standing CEO of the Women’s Council for Domestic and Family Violence Services WA and a tireless advocate and campaigner for women’s safety. Sadly, Angela has passed away after a long illness.
Beginning with her work for a women’s refuge in 1987, Angela was committed to making change in the area of domestic and family violence for more than three decades.
Angela’s advocacy and academic work were instrumental in the development and implementation of the Safe at Home program. She explored this work in her book chapter, “Having the Violence Leave: Women’s Experiences of the Safe at Home Program”, which can be found in Response-Based Approaches to the Study of Interpersonal Violence.
From 2007–2009 she was Chair of the Women’s Advisory Network of WA; she later served as a Member of the WA Ombudsman’s DFV Fatality Review Advisory Panel, and as a Member of the DFV Policy Consortium for the development of the 10-Year Strategy for the Prevention of DFV.
In 2011 Angela’s enormous legacy was recognised through her induction into the WA Women’s Inaugural Hall of Fame for her work in WA’s Women’s Refuge Movement.
ANROWS extends our deepest condolence to her friends, family and colleagues across the VAW sector.
Factors preventing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women from reporting family violence
A new research report published by ANROWS explores the varying availability, accessibility and acceptability of family violence legal and support services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
It shows that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women face barriers to reporting their experiences of family violence, including fear of the threat of child removal, homelessness and potential isolation from their family and community.
In smaller communities, women are also concerned that if they report violence, there may be breaches of confidentiality.
The report, “Improving family violence legal and support services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women”, was led by Professor Marcia Langton AO and Dr Kristen Smith, with a team of researchers from the University of Melbourne and participant communities in the regional towns of Mildura and Albury–Wodonga.
A twin project with the same research team has also been published today. “Family violence policies, legislation and services: Improving access and suitability for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men” considers the practical and legal supports available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men who are perpetrators of family violence.
The researchers found that in order to improve the safety of women, children and communities, it is necessary to address the underlying issues that contribute to the perpetration of violence and can create barriers to accessing services, such as mental health challenges, substance use and neurological conditions.
Inquiry into First Nations people in custody
On 3 December ANROWS CEO Dr Heather Nancarrow presented evidence at the hearing of the Select Committee into the High Level of First Nations People in Custody and Oversight and Review of Deaths in Custody. She raised key issues about the relationships between imprisonment and domestic and family violence (DFV) and sexual violence:
- Studies show that 75 to 90 per cent of incarcerated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women have been victims of sexual, physical or emotional abuse, with most First Nations women having experienced multiple forms of abuse. There is a great need to recognise gender differences when designing and implementing prison policies and programs, including post-prison support.
- Approximately 80 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in prisons are mothers. ANROWS research shows the intergenerational effects of trauma. We recommend emphasising whole-of-family and whole-of-community approaches to DFV; supporting mothers’ re-connections with their children on release and their subsequent parenting; and increasing early interventions, for example with adolescents.
- Family violence and sexual violence can become a pathway to incarceration. Women can become caught in cycles where violence increases the risk and effects of imprisonment, and imprisonment increases the risk and effects of violence.
- Research shows that many First Nations women released from prison struggle to find accommodation, and often remain homeless for months. Homelessness and housing insecurity build a pathway to (re)incarceration. We recommend increasing the supply of public housing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
- The inappropriate identification of women victims/survivors—especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women—as perpetrators of DFV is a national problem. There should be clear accountability for decision-making about whether a protection order should be applied for and/or granted. Heather was asked to explain this issue further:
“Where you have police powers to make an application for a protection order without the consent of the victim, that was premised on the basis that women would be coerced or would be bullied into withdrawing an application. So the police were given the power to make applications against a perpetrator of domestic violence without the consent of the victim for that very reason.
“What we are seeing now though—we have seen it over the 30 years that these laws have been in place—is that we have lost that connection I believe. We are seeing now that police are using that power to manage all sorts of situations where there is inappropriate and abusive behaviour.”
The hearing was full of passionate and important testimony from experts, including First Nations women with lived experience of incarceration. You can read the full transcript of the session here.
Self-representation creates barriers for women in family law courts
A new ANROWS study shows that women who have experienced family violence are often unable to afford legal representation in family law courts, and report that representing themselves disadvantages their cases.
Previous research shows that family violence is a common feature of cases brought to the Family Court, and a high proportion of those who raise these issues are self-represented.
“‘No straight lines’: Self-represented litigants in family law proceedings involving allegations about family violence” found that most people who represent themselves do so because they fall into the wide gap between being wealthy enough to afford a private family lawyer and meeting the strict criteria to be eligible for legal aid.
It is also very difficult for self-represented litigants to obtain ongoing legal advice that is specific to their case. Those representing themselves were often unfamiliar with Australia’s complex family law system—in particular, they are often not prepared for the courts’ heavy emphasis on paperwork and negotiation. Without legal guidance, they often do not have realistic expectations of the process—a fact which significantly disadvantages their case.
The study also showed that victims of family violence who represent themselves are not always safe from violence in the courtroom and court precinct. When self-represented litigants lack knowledge of the safety measures available to them, courts sometimes fail to employ appropriate processes, leaving them exposed to ongoing violence.
Those who have experiences of trauma, including trauma stemming from experiences of family violence, also find it more difficult to prepare and present their cases to the court.
Evaluation Quick Guides
ANROWS’s Evaluation Quick Guides are now available. This series provides guidance for those conducting evaluations in the violence against women (VAW) sector, including programs and services that prevent and respond to domestic and family violence and sexual violence.
Designed for use by practitioners, they will also be useful for independent evaluators who may need to become familiar with the particular sensitivities of evaluation in the VAW context.
The Quick Guides provide succinct tips, advice and examples for those applying evaluation concepts, frameworks and skills. They also offer links to useful resources.
TITLES IN THE QUICK GUIDE SERIES
- An overview of evaluation in the VAW sector
- Participatory and empowerment evaluation in the VAW sector
- Feminist and intersectional approaches to evaluation in the VAW sector
- Ethical evaluation in the VAW sector
- Putting together an evaluation team in the VAW sector
RECORDED WEBINAR AND PRACTICE GUIDE
Gambling harm and intimate partner violence
Our last webinar for the year was a huge success, exploring the impacts of gambling harm on intimate partner violence and hearing from researchers and experts including women with lived experience. You can now access the recorded version here.
A practice guide, developed as part of the research project, is also now available: “The dangerous combination of gambling and domestic and family violence against women: Practice guide for gambling counsellors, financial counsellors and domestic and family violence workers”.
Registrations open tomorrow!
Keep an eye on your inbox on Friday 18 December for the first available registrations for the ANROWS National Research Conference on Violence against Women.
Early Bird registrants will save $50 (up to 33%) on the price of registration, so we recommend you secure your place soon.
Our first fully online symposium will offer sessions spread over five days and use specialised conference technology to encourage mutual learning and connections, provide flexible attendance options and ensure you have a chance to truly contribute and share ideas.
Get ready to join us on 1 to 5 March 2021.
Transforming legal understandings of intimate partner violence
Award-winning legal research
Associate Professor Stella Tarrant from UWA’s Law School was awarded the Non-Traditional Research Output Award at the inaugural Australian Legal Research Awards held by the Council of Australian Law Deans. The award was granted for her ANROWS research report, “Transforming Legal Understandings of Intimate Partner Violence“, co‐authored with Professor Julia Tolmie and George Giudice.
The report was specifically recognised for its value as a practical tool and educational resource.
ANROWS is proud of the impact that this research continues to have in policy and practice, especially in its role in influencing the reform of the Evidence Act 1906 (WA).
Professor Tarrant will be speaking at our Conference in March, where she will discuss the continuing impacts of this piece of work.
SAFE & TOGETHER
Award-winning STACY project
ANROWS’s research partners at the Violence against Women and Children Research and Evaluation team in the University of Melbourne’s Social Work Group have been awarded the 2020 Platinum Award for Knowledge Management by the Australian Society for Knowledge Management.
The award went to the Safe and Together Addressing ComplexitY (STACY) team, led by Professor Cathy Humphreys, recognising their excellence in the investigation and development of practitioner and organisational knowledge to work collaboratively across services. This research was funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.
This field-leading project is part of a suite of research that utilises the Safe & Together Model to deliver interventions to children and families challenged by living with domestic and family violence, mental health problems and alcohol and other drug use. It builds on earlier ANROWS projects, including “The PATRICIA Project: PaThways and Research Into Collaborative Inter-Agency practice” and “Invisible practices: Interventions with fathers who use violence”, and has since contributed to the publication of ANROWS’s “Safe & Together Addressing ComplexitY for children (STACY for Children)”.
QLD: SUBMISSIONS ON CONSENT AND MISTAKE OF FACT BILL
On 26 November 2020, the Criminal Code (Consent and Mistake of Fact) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill was introduced to the Queensland Parliament by the Hon Shannon Fentiman MP, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence.
The Queensland Legal Affairs and Safety Committee is now seeking written submissions on the Bill. The Bill aims to implement the recommendations of the Queensland Law Reform Commission in its “Review of consent laws and the excuse of mistake of fact” report.
Interested stakeholders and members of the public are encouraged to respond. The closing date for lodging written submissions is 12:00 noon, Tuesday 12 January 2021. Information and guidelines for submissions can be found here.
QLD GRANTS FOR DFSV SUPPORT
The Queensland Government has established a grants program to assist the frontline sexual, domestic and family violence support sector in implementing projects that address additional impacts and challenges posed by COVID-19.
Grants of between $50,000 and $150,000 are available to eligible applicants, with a total of $2 million available. Initiatives will need to be delivered by the end of December 2021, with reporting due by the end of January 2022.
Applications will close at 5 pm (Qld AEST) on Sunday, 28 February 2021. Access the 2020 Grant Information and Application Guidelines for further information about applicant eligibility, selection criteria and requirements. Applications can be submitted here.
BREACHES OF FAMILY LAW PARENTING ORDERS: SURVEY
The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has been commissioned by ANROWS to undertake research into the compliance with and enforcement of family law parenting orders. The research will involve multiple studies, including a survey of legal and non-legal professionals working in the family law system.
You are invited to take part in this survey if you are a legal professional (including judicial officers, barristers and solicitors) or non-legal professional (including family dispute resolution practitioners, family violence sector professionals, and professionals working in post-separation support services, such as parenting order programs).
Books & reports
Breckenridge, J. (2020). Understanding economic and financial abuse in intimate partner relationships.
Campbell, A., Stevens, A., Dozer, A., Dick, D., Holden, E., Pedersen, J., Hunter, K., Gray, K., George, L., Devereaux, N., & Spry, S. (2020). Wiyi Yani U Thangani (Women’s Voices): Securing our rights, securing our future report.
Chung, D., Humphreys, C., Campbell, A., Diemer, K., Gallant, D., Spiteri-Staines, A. (2020). Fathering programs in the context of domestic and family violence (CFCA Paper No. 56).
Maher, J., Muir, C., McKernan, H., Pfitzner, N., & McCulloch, J. (2020). Victoria Police Specialist Investigators Support Unit: A workplace mental health and wellbeing initiative.
Mirrlees-Black, C. (2020). Law informed: The value of telephone legal information services to clients. Law and Justice Foundation of NSW.
Office of the eSafety Commissioner (2020). Children and technology-facilitated abuse in domestic and family violence situations.
Victorian Agency for Health Information (2020). Family violence in Victoria: findings from the Victorian Population Health Survey 2017.
New research articles
Eggers del Campo, I., & Steinert, J. I. (2020). The Effect of Female Economic Empowerment Interventions on the Risk of Intimate Partner Violence: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse.
Fiolet R, Cameron J, Tarzia L, et al. (2020). Indigenous people’s experiences and expectations of health care professionals when accessing care for family violence: A qualitative evidence synthesis. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse.
Maher, J., Fitz-Gibbon, K., Meyer, S., Roberts, S., & Pfitzner, N. (2020). Mothering through and in Violence: Discourses of the ‘Good Mother’. Sociology.
Theobald, J., Watson, J., Murray, S., & Bullen, J. (2020). Women’s Refuges and Critical Social Work: Opportunities and Challenges in Advancing Social Justice. The British Journal of Social Work.
Viero, A., Barbara, G., Montisci, M., Kustermann, K., & Cattaneo, C. (2020). Violence against women in the Covid-19 pandemic: a review of the literature and a call for shared strategies to tackle health and social emergencies. Forensic Science International.
In the media
Marcia Langton and Kristen Smith on Afternoon Briefing—ABC [starts 18:34]
What do we know about family violence services and COVID-19?—Australian Human Rights Institute
Women, peace and security are not only wartime issues—The Interpreter
Conferences & events
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