The views of Australian judicial officers on domestic and family violence perpetrator interventions: Key findings and future directions
This is an edited summary of key findings from ANROWS research The views of Australian judicial officers on domestic and family violence perpetrator interventions.
Despite increasing acknowledgement of the importance of perpetrator interventions in the delivery of integrated responses to domestic and family violence (DFV) and promoting perpetrator accountability, there remains very little understanding of how Magistrates and other judicial officers view, manage and use perpetrator interventions. This research project aimed to address this gap in evidence.
- Judicial officers hold mixed views on the effectiveness of perpetrator interventions, in particular men’s behaviour change programs, in DFV matters.
- When a DFV case is before them, judicial officers have limited access to information about which (if any) perpetrator interventions have been previously used with a perpetrator.
- Judicial officers across Australia express a lack of knowledge about perpetrator program referral options, in relation to both the availability and nature of the programs.
- A central register of perpetrator program referral options, where information about referrals (and perpetrators who return to court after completion of a specific program) could be recorded would build evidence on the effectiveness of specific interventions.
- The role of judicial officers in holding perpetrators to account remains unclear, as does the place of judicial officers within the system of perpetrator interventions itself.
- 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.
ANROWS Research to policy and practice papers are concise papers that summarise key findings of research on violence against women and their children, including research produced under ANROWS’s research program, and provide advice on the implications for policy and practice.
Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety. (2020). The views of Australian judicial officers on domestic and family violence perpetrator interventions (Research to policy and practice, 13/2020). Sydney: ANROWS.