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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 hosts events as part of its knowledge transfer and exchange work, including public lectures, workshops and research launches. Details of upcoming ANROWS activities and news are available from the list on the right.

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About ANROWS

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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To support the take-up of evidence, ANROWS offers a range of resources developed from research to support practitioners and policy-makers in delivering evidence-based interventions.


EXTERNALLY FUNDED RESEARCH PROJECTS

Intimate partner violence and the Western Australian criminal justice system: A victim perspective

Background

The background to this research stems from my time working as a volunteer with the Family Violence Service at the Perth Magistrates Court. During my time helping women with VRO (violence restraining order) applications, I felt positive and encouraged by victim experiences in court; however, there were occasions where, having reassured victims they had made the right decision to seek help, I felt responsible when victims felt disempowered and revictimised. This led me to question whether the justice system (including police, lawyers, magistrates, court staff and court processes) empowers victims to move forward or whether the system leaves victims feeling discouraged and despondent to the point where they may decide not to engage with the system in the future.

Aim

This project aims to explore the following research questions:
1. What are the experiences of female victims of intimate partner abuse (IPA) as they engage with the Western Australian Criminal Justice System (WACJS)?
2. Do these experiences encourage or discourage women from seeking help in future cases of IPA?
3. When seeking help, do victims feel encouraged or discouraged by police, lawyers and the courts?

Methods

Thirteen female victims of intimate partner violence (ranging in ages from 20 to 69) who had engaged with police, lawyers or the courts in Western Australia participated in the study. Participants engaged in semi-structured, but mainly free-flowing, interviews.
Using a grounded theory approach, interviews were transcribed, and then coded using NVivo. Codes were analysed over three coding stages: initial, axial and theoretical. Initial coding involved analysing data line-by-line to look for the premise behind participant statements to generate categories toward theory building. Axial coding involved building upon the open-coded categories to create subcategories. Finally, theoretical coding involved integrating the categories established through axial coding to form theoretical explanations related to the data.

Significance

Intimate partner violence studies often examine the reasons for abuse, the attributes of the victim and the mechanics of the systems in place. This research aims to study the perceptions of female victims as they engage with the WACJS, by providing the opportunity for victims to express their views and experiences. It also aims to convey to victims that their experiences and opinions of the justice system are important and valued. In doing so, this research will inform the work of policymakers and agencies with victims’ experiences with the justice system. It is also hoped this research will enable policymakers and agencies to consider victim experiences when determining how to provide assistance to victims of IPV.

Project start date

January 2019

Expected completion date

June 2022
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