Technology-facilitated abuse: An emerging field
ANROWS Notepad | 27 July 2021
OUR INAUGURAL CEO DEPARTS
Farewell to Dr Heather Nancarrow
After 40 years spent working tirelessly in the violence against women sector, Dr Heather Nancarrow’s well-earned retirement officially begins on 1 August.
With ANROWS’s planned in-person celebrations regrettably cancelled due to the current COVID-19 situation in Sydney, Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, Minister for Families and Social Services and Minister for Women’s Safety, has recorded a video address to mark the occasion.
Senator Ruston celebrates Dr Nancarrow’s unwavering commitment and outstanding leadership, and her immense work in building Australia’s understanding of violence against women. She also welcomes ANROWS’s incoming CEO, Padma Raman PSM, noting that her arrival coincides with a shift in focus, under the next National Plan, from reducing violence against women and their children to ending it.
If you would like to pass on your well wishes to Dr Nancarrow or Ms Raman, please do so via Terri Atkin, EA to the CEO.
New report launched
Responding to data from the eSafety Commissioner, which revealed an alarming spike (up 300%) in “sextortion” scams and image-based abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, Minister for Women, noted the need to increase the knowledge of frontline workers about technology-facilitated abuse as critical to women’s safety. Responding to this rapidly changing environment, a new ANROWS-funded report, Technology-facilitated abuse: A survey of support services stakeholders, released last week examined technology-facilitated abuse in the context of the Australian bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Conducted by Associate Professors Asher Flynn and Anastasia Powell from Monash University and RMIT University, this is the first report of a larger research project that will provide much-needed evidence to respond to gaps in understanding the extent, nature and contexts of women’s experiences of technology-facilitated abuse. It is one of 10 research projects currently being carried out under ANROWS’s Fourth Action Plan research program, made possible with funding from the Australian Government Department of Social Services.
The research found that in the experience of support services workers, foremost comprising domestic and sexual violence services, TFA is a significant and gendered problem, with victims facing significant impacts and barriers to help-seeking. Support services workers identified significant obstacles to helping clients who are experiencing TFA, including difficulty in finding up-to-date information, TFA not being taken seriously by police and courts, and inadequate responses from technology providers.
This research is part of a wider project that will include a national representative survey of adult Australians’ experiences of technology-facilitated abuse and in-depth interviews with victims and perpetrators, to be released in the last quarter of 2021. It will be used to inform policy development to support victims of abuse and to support greater collaboration among sector services, technology companies and government to create solutions for change. The subject of a media release from Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC, the research has already garnered much attention across media outlets including The Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Canberra Times, Brisbane Times and ABC News, and was also featured in a Facebook blog post. Associate Professor Flynn was also recently appointed as Australia’s only global women’s safety expert advisor by social media giant Facebook, where she will be able to share the findings of this research.
An emerging field
Technology-facilitated abuse is a rapidly growing field, with notable contributions from Australian researchers. In “What’s Mum’s Password?”: Australian mothers’ perceptions of children’s involvement in technology-facilitated coercive control (2021), Professor Molly Dragiewicz and colleagues explore the ways that mothers and their children are co-victims of coercive control, with applications like FaceTime effectively bringing abusers directly into the home even if the location has been kept private. This research confirms an earlier report by the eSafety Commission entitled Children and technology-facilitated abuse in domestic and family violence situations (2020). Cynthia Brown and Professor Kelsey Hegarty have looked at how to measure the impact of technology-facilitated abuse in young people’s dating relationships in Development and validation of the TAR Scale: A measure of technology-facilitated abuse in relationships (2021). This measurement scale will have meaningful implications for policy and practice around victim support and technology-facilitated abuse in relationships prevention.
Access these reports and other research on technology-facilitated abuse in the ANROWS Library by searching for “technology-facilitated abuse”.
REGISTER OF ACTIVE RESEARCH
Building responses to technology-facilitated violence
You can also find information on technology-facilitated abuse research in ANROWS’s Register of Active Research, alongside research currently underway in the five research priority areas outlined in Australia’s National Research Agenda to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children (ANRA) 2020–2022.
“Building responses to technology-facilitated violence”, led by Dr Bridget Harris of the Queensland University of Technology, is one of the externally funded projects, currently underway and housed in the RAR, investigating TFA. This project will assess existing state responses to and regulation of harms associated with technology-facilitated violence, noting that justice systems can play a crucial role in preventing this kind of violence and safeguarding and empowering victims and survivors.
The project will also consider other responses and solutions, including abolitionist perspectives and proposals, and expects to provide an evidence base to enhance and develop innovative policy and practice beneficial to communities and economies.
Dr Harris is currently seeking participants for the study, and you can find further information in the call for participants listed in the “Opportunities” section below.
To submit your current research project to the RAR, please use the inclusion form on the ANROWS website.
“I AM …” WEBSITE PAGES
An ideal way to navigate the ANROWS website
To help different members of our community most successfully find their way around the ANROWS website, we have collated key information relevant to these different groups. If you are a policymaker, practitioner, researcher, or victim and survivor of domestic and family violence, for example, you can visit the ANROWS home page and navigate to the “I Am” tab of the drop-down menu. Choose your group and you will be taken to a page that includes valuable information and resources tailored to your relevant needs.
EVIDENCE IN ACTION
Gender-based violence in mental health inpatient units
With family violence and serious mental health issues spiking due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the founders of Australia’s first women-only mental health hospital say that women are avoiding treatment due to feeling unsafe in mixed-gender mental health wards. “The increase in domestic violence has reinforced the need for gender-specific mental health care,” said Sharon Sherwood, chief of mental health and outreach services at Cabrini Women’s Mental Health.
ANROWS’s knowledge translation efforts have borne fruit in this area. Reports like Preventing gender-based violence in mental health inpatient units (2020), based on an ANROWS-funded research project, have contributed to a growing understanding that mental health inpatient facilities that are not trauma-informed impact women with experiences of violence. Experts in this field, including Dr Juliet Watson and Professor Jayashri Kulkarni, have also appeared on ANROWS webinars discussing these issues.
To learn more about ANROWS’s knowledge translation and exchange function, you can catch up with our entire webinar program by visiting the ANROWS website, and you can also register for access to ANROWS conference recordings and resources to see further “Evidence in Action”.
NATIONAL DOMESTIC AND FAMILY VIOLENCE BENCH BOOK
Bench Book 2021 update now live
ANROWS congratulates Professor Heather Douglas and her team on the 2021 update to the National Domestic and Family Violence Bench Book, which went live on Wednesday 14 July. The new edition includes a section on coercive control – incorporating ANROWS’s policy brief on the subject – as well as 104 new case summaries, new ANROWS research and updated legislation.
The National Domestic and Family Violence Bench Book, delivered under the auspices of the Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration, is the result of significant, nationwide collaboration. Professor Douglas has worked with a team of researchers, judicial officers and others who have contributed their expertise to the development and ongoing improvement of the resource.
An updated PDF of the Bench Book will be added to the site by 31 July.
Conferences & events
28 JULY 2021:
Report launch: NSW Voices for Change
18 AUGUST 2021:
Webinar: Safety planning for people and animals experiencing DFV
7 TO 8 OCTOBER 2021:
Indigenous wellbeing conference
15 TO 17 JUNE 2022:
AIFS 2022 Conference: Putting Families at the Centre
BREACHES OF FAMILY LAW PARENTING ORDERS: SURVEY
The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has been commissioned by ANROWS to undertake research in relation to the compliance with and enforcement of family law parenting orders. The research will involve multiple studies, including a survey of parents and carers.
Parents or carers who have had family law parenting orders made in the past five years are invited to participate in this survey. We also encourage you to share this information with your client base if you feel that it would be of interest.
This research will help us to understand whether parents comply with parenting orders, how the enforcement process in the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) operates, and how well it works. You can take the survey through the AIFS website: there is one version for parents and carers within Western Australia, and another version for those in the rest of the country.
BUILDING RESPONSES TO TECHNOLOGY-FACILITATED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Dr Bridget Harris’s project, mentioned above, aims to investigate one of Australia’s most pressing social problems: domestic violence and the emerging use of digital technology to enact and escalate abuse and stalking. Justice systems may have a crucial role to play in preventing technology-facilitated domestic and family violence and safeguarding and empowering victims and survivors, but there are other solutions and pathways we could explore.
If you are an advocate or practitioner working in the domestic violence field and you would like to participate in an interview or focus group, or would like more information about this project, please contact Dr Bridget Harris.
THE NEXT NATIONAL PLAN: PUBLIC CONSULTATION
The next National Plan to address violence against women and their children is currently being developed by the Australian Government, with the existing National Plan drawing to a close in June 2022. As with the current National Plan, the next National Plan will coordinate the efforts of governments, organisations and individuals across Australia to reduce family, domestic and sexual violence.
A public consultation, run by the Department of Social Services in partnership with the Office for Women, is currently underway, and individuals and organisations across the nation are invited to have their say.
Feedback is encouraged from family safety advocates, organisations, people with lived experience of violence, researchers, service providers, frontline first responders, businesses, state and local governments, and the public. The consultation period ends on 31 July 2021.
PRIMARY HEALTH CARE AND DOMESTIC AND FAMILY VIOLENCE: SURVEY
As the Australian Government develops the next National Plan to address violence against women and their children, the Department of Health is seeking your views on the role of primary health care in responding to domestic and family violence. The responses to this survey will feed into the next round of consultations for the National Plan.
The survey closes on 30 July 2021.
MEASURES OF INTERVENTION EFFICACY FOR SURVIVORS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT: SURVEY
Professionals working with survivors of sexual assault in Australia are invited to participate in a study that aims to better understand the assessment measures used when working with these survivors.
Specifically, the study is seeking information about assessment measures used to assess client symptoms, assessment measures used to inform treatment approaches for survivors of sexual assault, and assessment measures used to measure treatment progress.
WOMEN’S AND GIRLS’ EXPERIENCES OF THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
The Women’s Safety and Justice Taskforce has requested that community consultation be included in law reform discussions surrounding coercive control. It is currently inviting community feedback on Discussion Paper 2, which focuses on women’s and girls’ experiences of the criminal justice system.
The paper outlines themes that could potentially be considered in a larger proposal to focus on women’s and girls’ experiences of sexual violence in the criminal justice system, as well as the experiences of women and girls as offenders. The Taskforce wants to know if the community agrees with the proposed themes, or if there are other themes to take into consideration.
Submissions can be made through the Taskforce’s website or by post. The consultation period ends on Friday 30 July.
GRADUATE CERTIFICATE IN DOMESTIC AND GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE RESEARCH
The University of Melbourne is now offering a graduate certificate in domestic and gender-based violence research and practice. The year-long course is designed for professionals working in research, policy or government roles wishing to extend their research skills in gender-based violence.
For more information, visit the University of Melbourne website.
AUDIT: POLICE RESPONSES TO DOMESTIC AND FAMILY VIOLENCE
The Audit Office of New South Wales is welcoming contributions to their assessment of the effectiveness of the NSW Police Force’s responses to domestic and family violence. The audit will respond to the following questions:
- Does the NSW Police Force effectively conduct capability planning for responding to domestic and family violence and supporting victim-survivors?
- Has the NSW Police Force effectively resourced its approach to respond to domestic and family violence and support victim-survivors with the required capability?
- Is the effectiveness of domestic and family violence policing and NSW Police Force support to victim-survivors improving over time?
Contributions are confidential and will be accepted until 30 September 2021.
Books and reports
Douglas, H., & Ehler, H. (2021). National domestic and family violence bench book. Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration. https://dfvbenchbook.aija.org.au/contents
Ivandić, R., Kirchmaier, T., & Torres-Blas, N. (2021). Football, alcohol and domestic abuse (Discussion Paper No. 1781). Centre for Economic Performance. https://cep.lse.ac.uk/_NEW/publications/abstract.asp?index=8216
Singh, S. (2021). Domestic economic abuse: The violence of money. Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003178606
Watson, N., & Douglas, H. (2021). Indigenous legal judgments: Bringing Indigenous voices into judicial decision making. Routledge. https://www.routledge.com/Indigenous-Legal-Judgments-Bringing-Indigenous-Voices-into-Judicial-Decision/Watson-Douglas/p/book/9780367467456
Adily, A., Karystianis, G., & Butler, T. (2021). Text mining police narratives to identify types of abuse and victim injuries in family and domestic violence events. Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice (no. 630). https://doi.org/10.52922/ti04923
Ali, P., Rogers, M., & Heward-Belle, S. (2021). COVID-19 and domestic violence: Impact to mental health. Journal of Criminal Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCP-12-2020-0050
Cerna-Turoff, I., Fischer, H.-T., Mansourian, H., & Mayhew, S. (2021). The pathways between natural disasters and violence against children: A systematic review. BMC Public Health, 21(1), 1249. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-021-11252-3
Douglas, H., & Edwards, S.S. (2021). The criminalisation of a dangerous form of coercive control: Non-fatal strangulation in England and Wales and Australia. Journal of International and Comparative Law, 8(1). https://www.jicl.org.uk/journal/june-2021/the-criminalisation-of-a-dangerous-form-of-coercive-control-non-fatal-strangulation-in-england-and-wales-and-australia
Kyei-Onanjiri, M., Koziol-McLain, J., Spangaro, J., Walsh, J., & Hegarty, K. (2021). What do pregnant women experiencing intimate partner violence expect of their health providers and hospital systems? [Preprint]. Research Square. https://doi.org/10.21203/rs.3.rs-669553/v1
Nafiseh, G. (2021). Identifying domestic violence (DV) and sexual assault (SA) presentations and referral pathways at John Hunter Hospital Emergency Department: Comparative analysis of DV and SA cases. Research Square. https://doi.org/10.21203/rs.3.rs-665031/v1
Uibu, K. (2021). Constructive messages in Australian domestic violence online news coverage and guidelines for improved coverage. Journalism Practice, 1– 22. https://doi.org/10.1080/17512786.2021.1950563
White, D., & McMillan, L. (2021). [De]-centering the victim: Police perceptions of victims of sexual violence through a comparative lens of evidence collection and processing. Feminist Criminology. https://doi.org/10.1177/15570851211031991
In the media
“Not what I consented to”: When a partner tries to control the other’s choice about pregnancy—Washington Post
COVID lockdowns cause spike in cyber abuse of young women—Women’s Agenda
How tech is enabling domestic abusers—ACS Information Age
An investment in social housing for domestic violence survivors could save Australia billions—Pro Bono Australia
Indigenous women’s advocates concerned about NSW decision to criminalise coercive control—National Indigenous Times
Government urged to build 17,000 homes for domestic violence victims to fix “shocking” situation—The Age
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