Recommendations from time for action
Urgent implementation actions
4.3.1 Establish a mechanism that enables automatic national registration of domestic and family violence protection orders and subsequent variations, adaptations and modifications occurring anywhere in Australia or New Zealand, and consider the need to include police-issued domestic and family violence orders on the national register.
4.3.2 Establish or build on emerging homicide/fatality review processes in all states and territories to review deaths that result from domestic and family violence so as to identify factors leading to these deaths, and improve system responses and respond to service gaps. As part of this process, ensure all information is, or recommendations are, centrally recorded and available for information exchange.
5.1.1 Fund and develop a correctional facility-specific domestic violence behaviour change program to be tested in Australian prisons.
6.1.1 Commonwealth, state, territory and local government agencies work collaboratively to develop policy, planning and service delivery responses for sexual assault, domestic and family violence, and establish performance reporting measures that recognise and encourage collaborative achievements and identify fragmented delivery of programs and/or services.
Early implementation actions (2009–12)
1.5.2 Establish a minimum dataset including a data dictionary and standard protocols to enable consistency and standardised data collection methods and analysis for sexual assault, domestic and family violence. This dataset must be disaggregated by sex and segmented by marginalised groups (eg Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, culturally, linguistically and religiously diverse communities, and women with disabilities) wherever this is possible. Where disaggregation by marginalised groups is not possible, this should be complemented by targeted research.
3.1.1 Develop and implement a well-supported and funded workforce strategy to support the attraction, recruitment, retention, development of and succession planning for staff working in sexual assault, domestic and family violence services. The strategy should address—recognition of the complexity and the true market value of the work undertaken in the fields of sexual assault, domestic and family violence; whole of workforce issues, including skills and qualifications, career pathways, training and development, networking and professional support; resourcing requirements, which are to be met as part of funding programs and services; and strategies to build the competency of people within communities (particularly rural and remote communities) to be engaged as the service providers.
3.3.3 Explore best practice, develop responsive models and increase funding to women’s domestic and family violence services to enhance responses to children affected by domestic and family violence, especially in relation to strengthening the mother–child relationship in the aftermath of violence.
3.3.5 Ensure adult survivors of child sexual assault, domestic and family violence have access to counselling, court support and practical assistance whenever they choose to disclose their past experiences of violence.
3.3.7 At every point in the service and justice system, ensure services are adequately funded to provide professional interpreting to victims/survivors who are not confident in their English language competency.
4.3.3 Strengthen the application of the legislation governing ouster/exclusion orders by highlighting in the legislation and/or on protection order application forms, the availability of the ouster/exclusion order provisions; ensuring the provisions are cross-referenced with relevant tenancy law; including this aspect of the legislation in professional development for police, lawyers, court staff and judicial officers; and undertake research to identify the most effective legislative and policy responses for increasing the appropriate utilisation of ouster/exclusion orders.
4.3.4 Review all state and territory sexual assault legislation to ensure it:
- includes a definition of consent that applies a ‘communicative’ model through defining consent as ‘free agreement’ or ‘free and voluntary agreement’;
- includes a list of vitiating circumstances under which free agreement cannot be said to have been given;
- limits the extent to which an accused can claim to have held an honest, though unreasonable, belief in consent, thus restricting the availability of mistaken belief defences;
- ceases the artificial separation of court hearings involving multiple victims of the same offender.
4.4.1 Develop and implement a national education and professional development framework that recognises the specific roles and functions of police, prosecutors, defence counsel, family and migration lawyers, legal advisers, court staff and the judiciary. This professional development must be designed with these specific audiences in mind, be informed by research on the social context within which violence against women and children takes place, emphasise the diversity of experiences and needs of victim/survivors of violence in the community and enhance understanding of the intent and operation of relevant legislation.
5.1.2 Fund a national conference every two years to share information on what works with regard to perpetrator services and programs and develop communities of practice.
6.1.2 Support and/or establish community partnership planning mechanisms that enable communities and services to prioritise need, address gaps and unnecessary duplication in service provision, and contribute to the development of policy, planning and delivery at the local level.
6.2.1 Support and/or develop information sharing systems and protocols between all organisations in response to sexual assault and domestic and family violence that give primacy to the safety of women and their children.
6.3.1 Further develop risk assessment tools that assess the danger women and their children may be in in order to guide service responses and perpetrator management.
Implementation of other actions 2012–15
1.3.3 As part of a broader social marketing plan, provide factual information to workplaces and communities to challenge myths and change attitudes about violence against women, and give guidance on protective behaviours, and available supports and services designed to engage people of different ages and abilities, and positioned to be meaningful within the context of different cultures.
1.5.5 Implement the results of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Statistical Framework for Family and Domestic Violence.
3.3.12 Ensure services (legal, medical and community) recognise and understand the extra complexity experienced by immigrant and refugee women and their children experiencing violence in order to improve the capacity of services to respond appropriately and effectively.
3.4.2 Include in funding agreements a requirement and sufficient resources to undertake rigorous, independent evaluations of all government-funded initiatives and programs, and make the results publicly available as a condition of continuing funding.
4.1.2 Establish a reference for the Australian Law Reform Commission to develop national guiding principles to inform a consistent interpretation of the law and applicable rules of evidence for sexual assault matters and domestic and family violence matters.
4.1.4 Ensure all victims of violence (including children exposed to violence) have access to victim/witness services with staff who are knowledgeable and responsive to the diversity of women so they can support them in their interactions with the justice system.
4.1.5 Ensure adequate funding for legal aid and advocacy services is provided by the Australian Government, over and above state/territory funding, to recognise the significant focus given to domestic and family violence in the 2006 amendments to the Family Law Act 1975.
4.1.6 Undertake gender/intersectional analysis of proposed policies and legislation to ensure they do not jeopardise the safety of women and their children.
4.2.2 Ensure that state and territory domestic and family violence legislation contains a clearly articulated objective definition of domestic and family violence that recognises the gendered nature of domestic and family violence and its impacts and consequences; that domestic and family violence is motivated by a desire for domination and control; and that it must be used in conjunction with criminal law where a crime has been committed.
4.2.3 Give primacy to the safety and wellbeing of children, including protection from unsupervised exposure to perpetrators of domestic and family violence, when considering ‘the best interests of the child’.
4.2.4 Focus police practices and accountability on gathering evidence to support criminal charges where relevant and eliminate the occurrence of dual arrests and cross-orders in the investigation of domestic and family violence allegations.
4.3.5 Increase the establishment of specialised courts or special court proceedings guaranteeing sensitive, timely and efficient handling of cases of violence against women.
4.3.6 Expand the use of specialist approaches to prosecutions (including increasing the availability and use of specialist courts) to minimise withdrawal and maximise the chances of successful and timely reporting and convictions in sexual assault and domestic and family violence cases.
4.3.7 Ensure guiding principles for the interpretation of the law relating to sexual offences feature within sexual offence legislation for every state and territory jurisdiction, including within the rules of evidence, as they relate to sexual offences.
4.4.2 Commission the production of a model Bench Book, in consultation with jurisdictions and as part of a national quality professional development program for judicial officers on sexual assault and domestic and family violence, to provide a social context analysis and case law to complement existing resources and enhance the application of the law.
4.5.1 Undertake national benchmarking of substantive law, evidence and procedure, interpretation and application for sexual assault offences that includes recommendations about which provisions are best able to provide a just legal response for victims.
4.5.2 Undertake and evaluate, with necessary caution, trials to explore the utility and suitability of restorative justice for cases of domestic and family violence and sexual assault.
4.5.3 Continue to trial and evaluate supplementary legal processes in the area of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family violence and sexual assault, such as restorative justice, which are driven by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
5.1.3 Develop standards, benchmarks and models for behaviour change programs and services for perpetrators that take account of individual differences and the typology of their violence, and create incentives for their participation.
5.1.4 Ensure that men serving custodial sentences for crimes against women have access to behavioural change programs as early as possible and certainly before their release.
5.2.3 Increase funding to men’s counselling and support services that meet the standards of practice, including telephone support services, to help men reach out for support when they recognise the antecedents to violence and provide support for non-violent behaviour.
5.3.1 Increase community-based maintenance and follow-up services for individuals, families and communities that enable perpetrators to maintain changes to their attitudes and behaviour.
5.3.2 Strengthen post-release transition services to ensure perpetrators have access to education and training, employment assistance and family counselling, where required.
6.1.3 Ensure funding models and reporting requirements do not overburden community-based organisations and/or detract from achieving outcomes.
6.1.4 Support and further develop community volunteering and exchange systems between staff in the government and the sexual assault and domestic and family violence sectors.
6.2.2 Ensure resource allocation models promote continuity of funding for local programs where they are shown to be effective through evaluation.
6.3.2 Investigate simplified outcomes and indicators for domestic violence and sexual assault to reduce the reporting burden and gather consistent evidence.
6.3.3 Investigate a better balance between individual privacy and the safety needs of individual clients and recommend ways to better ensure the safety of women and children.
Implementation of other actions 2015–18
3.1.5 Develop and implement multiple training and accreditation strategies for medical and allied health professionals, legal practitioners and community service workers to develop their understanding of the structural nature and impacts of sexual assault, and domestic and family violence on women and their children, taking account of factors such as age, ethnicity and disability.
3.4.5 In partnership with peak bodies and the sector, review, update and promulgate standards and good practice guidelines to support programs for women and their children who have experienced violence to assure quality service.
4.2.5 Capitalise on guilty pleas to apply elements of restorative justice in the conventional justice system, which improve responses for victims including, for example, the use of incentives for perpetrators of violence to plead guilty and ritualising the guilty plea to incorporate explicit acknowledgement of, and responsibility for, the crime and the harm caused.
4.5.4 Undertake research on police practices in pro-arrest jurisdictions within Australia to understand variance in dual arrest rates and the impact on women’s safety, including women being re-victimised in the justice system, with the goal of minimising dual arrests.
4.5.5 Evaluate the effectiveness of homicide/fatality review processes in all states and territories to determine the most effective models.
5.1.5 Increase the availability, range and evaluation of perpetrator programs that meet standard principles, particularly in rural and remote areas.
5.1.6 Develop best practice programs to address violence in lesbian relationships and to prevent violence in carer relationships.
5.4.3 Develop methods to evaluate perpetrator programs that are consistent with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.
6.2.4 Ensure mechanisms are in place to facilitate appropriate information sharing between relevant government and other agencies to enable services and supports to ‘wrap-around’ women and children who have been violated.