The Impacts and Outcomes element of the Framework includes the short, medium and long-term impacts and outcomes for victims, for perpetrators, for their children, for other family and friends, and for the community. These may affect a wide range of areas of wellbeing: population, family and community, physical and mental health, education, employment, economic resources, housing, crime and justice, and culture and leisure. The challenge is to accurately measure these potentially myriad outcomes of FDV.
Potential impacts and outcomes of FDV may vary according to the time-frame under consideration. Short and medium-term effects of FDV are described as impacts, and medium to long-term effects, particularly after interventions by systems responding to FDV, are described as outcomes. The impacts and outcomes will also vary depending on the type of abuse and the length of time victimised; and the age of the victim at the time of the offending.
Impacts and outcomes for victims
Data on the short-term impacts, and the medium and longer term outcomes, are required. These short-term impacts for victims may be physical and emotional. Medium and longer-term outcomes may include changes in physical and mental health, self-esteem, psychological wellbeing, relationship or family status, social and other relationships, living arrangements, access to essential personal care, work/study activities, day-to-day activities, loss of income due to time off work, economic costs of health services or relocation, and changes in financial status. Outcomes of FDV may also extend to homicide and suicide and other forms of self harm.
Victims of FDV may also experience trauma through subsequent involvement in the criminal justice system, and may also be at higher risk themselves of becoming perpetrators of future violence. Labelling may also influence the way in which others relate to and interact with a victim or a perpetrator.
Data on the impacts and outcomes for children and elders are also an important data need. The impacts and outcomes for a child that experiences or witnesses FDV may be very different to those of an adult, or a vulnerable elderly person. For young children, being exposed to FDV may have serious implications for their cognitive, social and emotional development. For an older person subjected to elder abuse, the vulnerabilities associated with medical conditions and the progression of age could compound the abuse being experienced.
Longitudinal data about outcomes for each of these sets of victims would assist in monitoring long-term outcomes and evaluation of interventions, and outcomes related to disclosure and support. Health sector and community services datasets also provide a potentially rich data source of information. Indirect information may also be 'hidden' in case records where FDV is not specifically identified, such as in police administrative datasets.
Impacts and outcomes for perpetrators
Potential impacts and outcomes for perpetrators can be generated from the health, welfare and justice sectors. Pathways for perpetrators in the health and welfare sectors may involve the identification of outcomes from services and supports, such as counselling and treatment programs. Impacts and outcomes are currently documented best when they are dealt with through the criminal justice system. Justice system data can be limited, however, due to difficulties in identifying perpetrators of FDV as they move through the system, and the restriction of coverage to only reported incidents that result in a perpetrator becoming known to the justice system. As a result, there is currently minimal information publicly available about outcomes for perpetrators.
Information about perpetrators may be most efficiently collected at the point of contact with systems and services accessed by a victim, or through victimisation surveys. Self-reported surveys on offending, whilst also potential sources of information about perpetrators, are not currently conducted in Australia. Longitudinal data about outcomes for perpetrators would be ideal and would provide for evaluation of interventions, however such collections are difficult to conduct.
Further impacts and outcomes
Impacts and outcomes can extend to those for family and friends, the community and the economy. Data are therefore required on the way in which FDV may affect these different areas for analysis.
For family members and particularly children, who are witnesses to or immediately affected by FDV, further impacts and outcomes may include those relating to their own physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing. They may also affect family cohesion; interpersonal relationships; and create a need for support and counselling. There are currently no data available in this area, however there may be some potential to collect data from services that provide support for family and friends of FDV victims.
Data on the impacts and outcomes for the community would provide for an analysis of the way in which FDV may affect changes in community perception, attitudes and behaviours, or where highly prevalent, contribute to breakdown in community supports and overall community wellbeing. Both direct and indirect costs are incurred by the community in relation to FDV. Direct costs include the costs of funding the systems that provide responses to FDV and of funding community prevention and education programs, and in aggregate, the costs to individuals of accessing services. Indirect costs include the costs to businesses and to the economy of lost time and reduced productivity, and the opportunity cost of using resources to provide services in response to FDV.
Analysis of the social and economic impacts of FDV, and data available to facilitate this, is currently limited. However, two reports released in 2004 modelled and estimated these impacts: Access Economics' report, The Cost of Domestic Violence to the Australian Economy; and VicHealth's report on The health costs of violence: Measuring the burden of disease caused by intimate partner violence.