A concise overview of critical issues, underpinning principles, and the evidence base for recommended actions.
The 2015 Royal Commission into Domestic Violence made 227 recommendations that cost the Victorian Government $2.7B to implement. This is now a multi-billion-dollar industry with a Minister for Family Violence, a Department of Family Violence, and a Multi-agency Risk Assessment and Management Framework.
The claims are to train 37,500 workers in Phase 1 (850 organisations) and 370,000 workers in Phase 2 (5,580 organisations).
The industry creates reports, resources and practice guides, grants, plans, research, statistical collection and analysis, guidelines, training, victim support groups, investigators, police, crisis assistance services, helplines, lawyers, security and the judicial system.
But they can’t arrange a response team to help Victims during a crisis.
Little in pragmatic and direct assistance for victims at the time of crisis and at the highest risk of being assaulted to protect them during these heightened risk periods or, in crime parlance, pro-active intervention.
This intervention is not to be confused with the Police role as that will remain in relation to direct physical threats and or actual physical violence. While there are no specific criminal laws against coercive control in Victoria, there are legal remedies victim-survivors can take. The Victorian Family Violence Protection Act includes coercive behaviour in its definition of family violence. That issue is a matter best dealt with by professionals other than the Police.
It is important to understand the size of the issue.
One Woman is killed every week in Australia due to Family violence.
Recorded Family Violence in Victoria is increasing, with Victoria Police reporting one incident every six minutes; 90,424 Recorded Incidents in Victoria in the 2021-2022 financial year.
Police time applied to Family Violence and Domestic Violence administration severely impacts the ability of Police to respond to other community issues.
We also know that,
Victim survivors report higher rates of violence from a perpetrator after separation. (Police are usually not directly involved at his stage, but the matter is in the hands of the Courts or the Domestic Violence Industry).
Children are present in 30% of family violence incidents attended by police.
NSW, Qld and Tas have “coercive control” legislation – Victoria still reviewing it!
Tasmania has had ankle bracelets on perpetrators for many years – Victoria is still reviewing!
Eight years after the Royal Commission, what has been achieved?
It has spawned the Family Violence bureaucratic Industry.
Statistics, when released, remain consistent, with little progress on designing or empirically introducing reduction strategies.
Critical risk victims are forced into hiding and wear a huge bracelet with a panic button.
Perpetrators consistently remain at large on bail able to strike at will.
Police are bogged down with bureaucratic risk assessments and bail/remand processes.
Strengthen the focus to “offender accountability” while maintaining “victim support”.
Remove administrative functions from Operational Police and the function of Government Welfare services.
Ankle monitors and vehicle tracking monitors (if perpetrators are released on bail).
Specific coercive control legislation.
Tightening of bail laws.
Domestic violence disclosure scheme (Clare’s Law – UK 2009 -perpetrator priors available to victims on request.
CAA Observations and Recommendations
The net outcome of the Royal Commission and the Government’s responses is the creation of a Domestic Violence industry with a plethora of Quango’s and Convocations costing billions of dollars but with little or no positive impact on the people it was intended to benefit.
If there is something déjà vu about this issue, it’s not surprising. Similarities or a parallel to the issues around our first peoples come to mind.
Spending huge amounts of money with no appreciable improvements for the victims.
The CAA strongly recommends an independent inquiry into the application of resources, accountabilities and effectiveness of outcomes at the coal face.
30,233 acts of Violence perpetrated predominantly on women by their ex-partners. (HS 9/08/23), and that is only the year to March.
Apart from the suffering of victims, that statistic equates to a minimum of 241,865 police hours consumed by this crime.
The actual number is much higher when more than one Police unit is required, and the processing exceeds the four-hours, which is a minimum.
Clearly, domestics are attended to as a priority as they should be, but the role of the police is to maintain the peace and not become involved in extraneous matters, taking them away from their core function. Particularly at the expense of other pressing police operational issues, like the Road toll, home invasions and juvenile crime, all escalating at an alarming rate and creating further victims at an alarming rate.
Policing these incidents will become more effective when Police have the ability to concentrate on all the components and behavioural variables of the protagonists to keep the peace, a skill poorly understood. It is not in the best interest of either party to the dispute to have police distracted by administration or counselling the protagonists.
Inevitably, Police are dragged into the issue that the rival parties perceive as important, threatening the detachment that Police must maintain to perform their function. This is not the role of the Police but other professionals who are notably absent when their services are most critically needed.
The Road Toll numbers, for example, far exceed the deaths caused in any other Policing category. Still, the police allocation of resources to Road Policing, compared to domestic, is totally inconsistent caused by a Royal Commission’s findings focused on just one narrow but important policing field but blind to the reality and broader demands of Policing.
If you call for help from the Police, the likelihood is that they may have difficulty getting to you, even for a Domestic. Most of their resources are tied up on Domestics.
The secondary heading, “Women die because of relationships”, is true to a point, but what has been overlooked is that many of these women are dying and or are subjected to violence because of Government inaction.
It is evident that despite the exorbitant amount of funds allocated to the Royal Commission into Family Violence, the raft of quangos and convocations that have sprung up, and the substantial number of Public Servants operating under the justification of Family Violence, the issue continues to surge.
We must put them all under the microscope as it is now apparent that the issues facing our Aboriginal communities, where huge amounts of money are expended but do not trickle down to be effective and where the purpose of the funding is expected to impact, are paralleled in the development of the Domestic Violence Industry.
Millions of dollars are spent for no appreciable result where the problem exists and no accounting of where the money is going.
It is well overdue for the Domestic Violence entities, Government or Government funded, to be held to account to justify their continued function. If they are failing, the operating costs of these entities must be diverted to where a real difference will be achieved.
The Commission’s recommendations are either not effective in reducing Violence or are being interpreted in a manner that renders the entire endeavour a futile waste of resources.
The Royal Commission heard from a plethora of do-good armchair experts, predominately with only academic experience of the consequences of the damage, with little or no reliable knowledge of the cause, as is now evident by the failures.
The apparent massive surge in Domestic Violence has its foundations in the broader governance of Victoria, as well as adversely impacting the police capacity to deal with the broader issue of Law and Order in this state.
The figures quoted in the Herald Sun articles must be viewed as a symptom of ineffectiveness.
Lawlessness perpetuates lawlessness and breeds violence.
However, the vast majority of these ‘experts’ relied upon by the Royal Commission work office hours, and in today’s environment, they probably work from home. They are not working when the issues are most prevalent and do not attend the scenes to intervene even if called by the Police.
Although early intervention would reduce the risk factors for victims, as far as we can establish, that is not a function of the agencies engage in; why?
They, therefore, have no direct knowledge and do not leave the cloistered environment of the Office and deal with victims in the real world rather than just the sterile environment (Sterile for the Victim) of a consultation approach, operating entirely on what they are told, usually from only one side.
As a result of the Royal Commission, the Police have been converted into statistic-gathering scribes rather than performing their proper function, maintaining the peace.
It is our understanding that the average domestic violence or disturbance attended by Police is a minimum of four – hours and oftentimes substantially longer.
The vast majority of that time is consumed filling out data requirements for other agencies’ statical needs, which does not contribute to the issue at hand and the priority of ensuring the safety of all involved.
The data we are told that they are required to collect is essential for the function of support services. The data is only of limited value to the Police, so unless the police have a demonstrated need, the data required by other agencies should not be foisted on the Police, causing limited resources to be stretched further.
While police are doing this mundane administrative role, they are not ‘keeping the peace’, a concept many do not adequately understand.
If the agencies require data, then they can collect it.
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