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.
Family Safety Strategic Plan 2021-2024: https://www.vic.gov.au/family-safety-victoria-strategic-plan-2021-2024/print-all
CAA Key Policy Positions.
- Strengthen the focus to “offender accountability” while maintaining “victim support”.
- Remove administrative functions from Operational Police and the function of Government Welfare services.
- Urgent Legislation
- 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.
It is long past time for positive action.