In this report, the results of a review of the ACT’s Family Violence Intervention Program (FVIP) are reported. The FVIP provides an interagency response to family violence matters that have come to the attention of police and then proceeded to prosecution. The scope of the review was to analyse the program’s activities and outcomes using 2007–08 data provided by participating agencies, supported by in-depth interviews with key stakeholders including victims whose matters had been finalised in court.
After the completion of this report, additional data from 2008–09 and 2009–10 was made available by some FVIP participating agencies. Although not within the scope of this evaluation, these data pointed to some preliminary improvements in the FVIP and have, therefore, been added as appendixes to this report for reference purposes only. The main body of the report should therefore be read as reflecting the FVIP program as it operated in 2007–08.
While specific conclusions cannot be drawn from the more recent FVIP data, several salient features should be considered when interpreting the findings of this 2007–08 evaluation. Specifically, the 2008–10 data reveals that there was an increase in the number of family violence incidents attended by police, the number of victims assisted by the Domestic Violence Crisis Service and an increase in the number of offenders going through the courts compared with the 2007–08 data. The data also show that there has been a decrease in the number of persons being formally charged by police, but an increase in the number of persons appearing in the Magistrates’ Court and an increase in the proportion of cases finalised by a finding of guilt. Other methods of case finalisation have remained relatively consistent, as has the length of court time taken to finalise family violence matters. Further, advice received from the ACT Victims of Crime Commissioner is that, since the report was compiled, there have been some legislative reforms that have impacted on the FVIP and some shifts in work practice.
In 2011, the Magistrates Court Act 1930 was amended to give statutory recognition to the Family Violence list created by the Magistrates Court. The establishment of the court is consistent with the goals of the FVIP. The Victims of Crime Act 1994 was amended to establish a Victims of Crime Commissioner and provide a stronger governance framework to ensure the independence of victims’ rights protection.
Victim Support ACT no longer attends case-tracking meetings, although it facilitates case tracking by preparing and distributing the weekly case-tracking list. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions maintains a specialist Family Violence Prosecution Team, who continue to work effectively in prosecuting family violence matters and liaising with victims. Although some time has elapsed since the review was conducted, the conclusions and recommendations that are reached in this report touch on issues that remain valid and are relevant for the future viability of the program.
The AIC would particularly like to thank Mr John Hinchey, ACT Victims of Crime Commissioner for his support in finalising the report.