In addition to the characteristics of FDV discussed in previous chapters of the Framework, there are a range of broader activities that can occur in relation to FDV to both aid understanding of the phenomenon, and to intervene to reduce the prevalence of FDV in the future.
Interventions such as education and prevention programs are informed by analysis of information from the Framework's other elements, which determine the context, targeting, and resourcing of such programs. Implementation of education and prevention programs, as part of a response to FDV, influences the future status of the Context and Risk elements.
Evaluation of interventions such as education and prevention programs, and activities of the criminal justice system (for example, incarceration of perpetrators or restricting contact between parties), can involve measurement of the effectiveness of interventions over time. Outcomes can be evaluated in relation to the impacts they have on the first two elements (Context and Risk) of the framework.
A strong research base is fundamental to the understanding of all elements described in the Conceptual Framework, and for informing social policy to respond to and prevent FDV, and provide best practice support to victims and perpetrators.
Development and Operation of Specialised Programs
Family and domestic violence education and prevention programs draw on information from all other elements of the Conceptual Framework. The broad aim of these types of programs is to bring about behavioural change as a part of cultural change at the community level. Information about the incident, and impacts and outcomes for victims and offenders, feeds into the development of education and prevention programs. Education and prevention programs can therefore be seen as having a strong relationship to the formal system responses element of the Framework.
There are differences between FDV awareness and education programs and general crime programs, and specific programs delivered to and for victims and offenders and high risk potential victims and offenders. For example, some prevention programs are framed specifically for FDV offenders and delivered with a focus on rehabilitation; these are usually court-mandated and aim to prevent further offending.
Programs can be focussed on education, or prevention. Further distinctions can be made between education programs that aim to generally:
- inform the general community about the occurrence of FDV;
- inform the professional community about the occurrence of FDV;
- identify the circumstances in which it may occur; and
- attempt to influence attitudinal and behaviour change;
and those prevention and intervention programs that are:
- targeted at specific victims or offenders;
- targeted at specific services, sectors or disciplines; and
- designed to deliver early intervention in high risk relationships.
The effectiveness of the above types of programs depends on appropriate messages reaching the right 'audiences' in order to change attitudes and influence behaviour.
Success of education and prevention programs can also be mediated by a range of contextual and individual factors. For example, different family structures and support networks can provide positive and negative influences, which impact upon the level of engagement with services and programs.
Research and Evaluation
A number of disciplines have an interest in researching various aspects of FDV. Research can be performed on a general level, exploring community attitudes, identifying risk factors and the prevalence of FDV as well as on a specific level where detailed characteristics of FDV are sought, or where program efficacy is a major goal. The availability of a strong evidence base is a key factor in the development of evidence-based policy, and can involve different approaches across disciplines.
Evaluation of interventions is essential to determine efficacy and utility. Formal FDV interventions may be implemented through activities of the health, welfare or justice sectors, and a sound understanding of the effectiveness of these interventions will assist agencies concerned in developing policies, planning funding and delivering appropriate services. Collation of evaluation data over time can allow the monitoring of changes, and assist in building the evidence-base to inform future investigations, policy and programming. For instance, changes to FDV occurrence as a result of specific violence-related orders or sentencing practices may prove to be of interest.
There has been limited evaluation of FDV-related programs in Australia, thus it is difficult to develop a good understanding of what works, what does not work, and why. It is also difficult to establish the effectiveness of general prevention and awareness programs purely through quantifying changes in prevalence and incidence of FDV as there may be a number of reasons for changes in these measures.
Evaluation of the delivery and efficacy of specific intervention and prevention programs may be more easily performed, as progress or outcome is more measurable and more easily attributed to the effectiveness of the specific program.
Evaluation of general and specific programs, to understand which are the most useful in influencing the prevalence and incident of FDV and effect behaviour change, could follow a model of levels wherein:
- the first level looks at activity, 'clients' of the program, services provided and utilisation levels; and
- the second looks at performance - in terms of outcomes and satisfaction with the service; and cost - in terms of expenditure, personnel and facilities.
In this context, delivery of specific programs may be more easily measured and evaluated than delivery of broader programs for the general community.
In aggregate, the outcomes may be measured through changes effected over time in the Context, Risk and Incident elements of the Framework.