Punishment, Protection or Prevention?
The Role of The Law in Domestic and Family Violence
In December 2019 ANROWS hosted a panel discussion exploring the implications of using legal systems to respond to domestic and family violence (DFV).
The expert panel of legal practitioners and researchers discussed key issues observed through their research and practice, including:
- reliance on the criminal and civil legal systems as the primary response to DFV
- how an overly legal focus has led to a number of unintended consequences, particularly for victim/survivors of DFV
- understandings of the concept of “coercive control” and its utility in the legal system
- how social and structural inequalities underpin perpetration of, and responses to, DFV
The panel also discussed recommendations to address these issues and suggested alternative ways of responding to DFV in policy.
This discussion is designed for:
- those who work with women experiencing domestic and family violence, who also have contact with the criminal and civil legal systems
- practitioners and policymakers working within the criminal and civil legal systems around domestic and family violence.
Thelma Schwartz is the Principal Legal Officer of the Qld Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service (QIFVLS), an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled organisation providing support services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victims/survivors of family violence and sexual assault in Queensland.
Dr Heather Nancarrow is the CEO of Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS). She also holds adjunct positions at UNSW and the Griffith Criminology Institute, Griffith University. Heather’s book, Unintended Consequences of Domestic Violence Law: Gendered Aspirations and Racialised Realities was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2019.
Wendy is a Queensland Magistrate who has worked in Brisbane, regional and remote centres since 2003. She is now Chief Magistrate for Norfolk Island and Acting Magistrate in Queensland.
Leigh Goodmark is a Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, where she directs the Gender Violence Clinic, providing direct representation in matters involving intimate partner abuse, sexual assault, and trafficking. She is the author of Decriminalizing Domestic Violence: A Balanced Policy Approach to Intimate Partner Violence (University of California Press, 2018).
Stella is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Western Australia. Her research focuses on criminal law and gender and the law. Her current research projects examine gender equality in the law of self-defence and philosophical approaches (learning about ‘how we think’) in gender and the law.
Zoe Rathus AM is a senior lecturer at the Griffith University Law School. Her research focuses on women and the law, particularly the family law system and the impact of family violence on women and children.