4529.0 - Defining the Data Challenge for Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence, 2013
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 07/02/2013 First Issue
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Any actions taken are influenced by the characteristics of individual people and the perceptions they and their community hold; for example, the degree to which family, domestic or sexual violence is accepted as ‘something that happens’, or the perceived utility of reporting incidents to formal systems or accessing formal services. Events such as changes in policies and the funding of services and the widespread publicising of these may change a victim's willingness to come forward and report crimes. Perceptions of the seriousness of an incident of family, domestic or sexual violence and the perception of whether or not the incident was a crime will also influence any actions taken.
Much of what is known empirically about the behaviour of perpetrators following the incidence of family, domestic or sexual violence comes through the operation and analysis of perpetrator programs. Other evidence about perpetrators is known as a result of disclosure by victims. However there are still gaps in the understanding of responses and it would be useful to know more about the actions a perpetrator might take following incidents of family, domestic or sexual violence.
Informal responses may involve talking to someone such as a family member, friend, neighbour, work colleague or religious advisor. Perceptions of the seriousness of an incident of sexual assault or family violence, and the perception of whether or not the incident was a crime will also influence the response and the course of action taken. Prevention responses such as public education campaigns can help to advise friends and family to respond in more constructive ways.
Formal responses encompass the actions that are undertaken by a formal system following a report of an incident of family, domestic and sexual violence. Once reported the organisation may undertake actions on behalf of the victim, either from a self-directed report or by referral from another agency. Actions may also be taken against the perpetrator particularly when the event is identified as a criminal act.
Government and non-government agency and service responses fall into three main groups.
These orders are protective functions of the justice system that seek to prevent one person from being physically located within the vicinity of an individual or a specified premises, or stalking or harassing another person and can remove a perpetrator from their home. Generally the order itself is a civil justice order, but if breached, the matter then becomes criminal. Children may be included on a parent’s application for an order. In some Australian jurisdictions there is specific provision for the making of orders to protect a child from exposure to domestic violence. Some jurisdictions go further, so that exposing a child to domestic violence against another person is itself domestic violence perpetrated against the child. Furthermore, if there are allegations that a child is being abused, state or territory child welfare authorities have a statutory responsibility for the child’s protection. This may involve intervening in a family in order to prevent further abuse, notifying police of activity which may constitute a crime, or bringing proceedings in state or territory courts that have jurisdiction to make orders about the welfare of children (Clark & Quadara 2010).
Child Care and Protection Orders are made by a state or territory Children's Court Magistrate when it is believed that a child is in need of protection from harm. There are a number of different types of Child Care and Protection Orders, which may direct a parent or guardian to do specific actions, or may grant supervision of the child to a government department or other family member or person. They can also involve removing a child from the family situation. Orders may be short or long-term, possibly lasting until the young person turns 18 years of age. For a magistrate to grant a Child Protection Order, they must be sure that the child or young person is in need of protection and that the order is not more intrusive than what is needed for the child to remain safe.
Finally, some people resolve or address issues of family and domestic violence through the family or other courts.
Police are usually the first point of contact with the criminal justice system in the reporting of sexual assault and often for cases of family and domestic violence. The processes that follow a report to police may include investigation, evidence-gathering, apprehension and charging of an alleged offender, bail, remand, trial and imprisonment. It is important to understand victims’ reasons for reporting or not reporting incidents of sexual assault to police, as sexual assault is believed to be one of the most under-reported of all crimes.
For each of the systems that provide responses to family, domestic or sexual violence, two areas of analysis are required. The first focuses on the services provided and the utilisation of those services.
The second focuses on the performance and cost of the system, of which the five major ones are:
It is also very important to understand the usage of multiple services, in particular whether a victim or perpetrator might approach or use multiple services, and if so, whether they disclose to each of these services that the incident is family, domestic or sexual violence related.
One further area would include an examination of the way in which these systems interact with each other. Given the existence of multi-agency responses to family, domestic or sexual violence, an understanding of the degree to which agencies and systems operate in a co-ordinated and integrated fashion is fundamentally important to best practice.
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