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Jac Taylor Womens Safety Contact Officer Southern Adelaide Domestic Violence Service.

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Presentation on theme: "Jac Taylor Womens Safety Contact Officer Southern Adelaide Domestic Violence Service."— Presentation transcript:

1 Jac Taylor Womens Safety Contact Officer Southern Adelaide Domestic Violence Service

2 Intervention Order Legislation Womens Domestic Violence Services were strong advocates to reform the legislation New legislation is a significant improvement on previous Domestic Violence Act 1994 In particular, we welcome the State Governments recognition in law that perpetrators of violence should be held accountable for their use of violence: Right for women and children to stay in their own home Requirement for defendant to attend an intervention program Requirement for defendant to demonstrate the protected person(s) no longer requires legal protection (and must wait at least 12 months) Women can no longer be charged with aid and abet if they are the only protected person on the order (but still can if bail conditions in place)

3 Better protection for women/children Increased police powers enabling quicker responses: Issuance of an interim intervention order if defendant is present or in custody Order that defendant vacates property immediately Require defendant to remain in a particular place to allow order to be prepared and served, and detain him if they have grounds that he will not stay as directed (maximum of 2 hours, can be extended by court) Following service of an order, he can be detained for up to 6 hours if they have grounds to believe he will commission an act of abuse (court can extend to 24 hours) Power to search for weapons required to be surrendered under the terms of the order, including entering premises to take possession of these, using reasonable force

4 Expansion of definition of abuse The definition of abuse has been expanded to include physical injury, psychological/emotional harm, unreasonable and non-consensual denial of financial, social or personal autonomy, and property damage However, DV services are noticing that for women who are experiencing psychological/economic abuse, the police may not be able to support their application for an intervention order This means women in this situation have to apply directly to the courts themselves and pay costs (may need a lawyer to represent them and no legal aid available)

5 Staying home Leading cause of homelessness for women and children is domestic violence Therefore, the new legislation is an important step in addressing this Defendant can be prohibited from the home regardless of his legal entitlement in the property At confirmation of the order, the Magistrate can issue a Tenancy Order transferring the lease solely into the womans name (subject to her being able to meet the tenancy obligations) However, women being supported by DV Services do not seem to be accessing these

6 Staying Home (cont) Locks can be changed and security upgraded Staying Home, Staying Safe Program through Victim Support Service If staying in the home is not a safe option, an order can be made to require the return of her property It may not be safe to remain in the home despite an Intervention Order and security upgrade She may not be able to afford to stay in the home once he has been removed (she is then required to pay rent/mortgage in full)

7 Better protection for children Intent of legislation to provide better protection to children who are exposed to domestic violence Children can be included as protected persons – where this happens and the order states no contact, the defendant cannot see the children unless there are family law orders in place allowing this This means if a child is taken by a defendant, police can act to retrieve the child (this is a much quicker response than the mother having to seek a recovery order in the family law courts) However, DV Services are noticing that it can be very difficult for women to have their children included as judicial responses seem to vary considerably Too often, women are advised that this legislation is not designed to address childrens issues, and referred to the family law courts

8 Intervention Orders Response Model Aim: to enhance the safety of women and children For male defendants Abuse Prevention Program (APP) – run by Courts Administration Authority (CAA) – for assessment and case management Domestic Violence Perpetrator Program (DVPP) – 26 week group for men to address their use of violence, run by Department of Correctional Services For female protected persons Womens Safety Contact Program (WSCP) – run by Womens Domestic Violence Services – support for female (former) partners of men on DVPP

9 Abuse Prevention Program As a term of the order, the defendant can be required to make contact with the Intervention Program Manager (at CAA) to make an appointment for an assessment, and if deemed eligible, participate in the Abuse Prevention Program Three stages to this: Stage 1 – Eligibility Assessment (conducted by CAA) – defendant must make contact within 2 days Stage 2 – Referral to the DVPP (group behaviour change program) Stage 3 – Monitoring and reporting to court on compliance (CAA)

10 Domestic Violence Perpetrator Program 26 week group program based on Moral Reconation Therapy Program content only available to those who have done the accredited training Based on a work book and homework required Participants need to possess literacy skills Intake is continuous, participants can join at any time subject to a place being available Groups currently run in city, Noarlunga and Elizabeth (evening groups in city) Participants must attend each week: Miss three consecutive sessions – reported to CAA and may be breached (and terminated from program) Miss four sessions overall – reported to CAA and may be breached (and terminated from program) Courts can request progress reports Penalty $220 fine (expiation notice)

11 Womens Safety Contact Program Assertive outreach program for female (former) partners of male participants of DVPP Once defendant is deemed eligible by CAA and referred to DVPP, Department of Correctional Services (DCS) forward Information Exchange to relevant Womens Domestic Violence Service in metropolitan area At point of assessment, defendant is asked for his (former) partners contact details and advised she will be contacted and offered support Womens Safety Contact Officers (WSCOs) are located in each of the four metropolitan DV services WSCO contacts woman and offers support – womans engagement is voluntary Focus is on risk and safety of women/children and relies on active engagement between DVPP facilitators and WSCOs

12 Program for Aboriginal Men Konar Winmil Yunti provide a 24 week group for Aboriginal men to address their use of violence as an alternative Based in the city and does not cover outer metropolitan area Referrals to this program are via community A Womens Safety Contact Officer – ATSI is located at Ninko Kurtangga Patpangga to provide support to female (former) partners of these men

13 Improved court processes Recognition of trauma associated with court processes: May be able to give evidence by CCTV However, anecdotally, this is not widely used (screens offered instead) If defendant is self-representing, he can not directly cross examine woman For women – court processes often result in secondary traumatisation While these changes are welcome, it can never be underestimated just how stressful, frightening and disempowering these processes can be

14 Womens perspectives: For some women, the new legislation is working well However, women have also voiced their concerns: Have felt very uncertain about the process (especially where he contests the order) Have felt very fearful about how the defendant will react on service of the order Have felt very fearful about the matter proceeding to trial, and requiring them to give evidence Have felt very fearful that the children will not be included or will be removed from the order Have felt pressured to apply for family law orders Have received conflicting information (eg their lawyer compared to police/prosecutor/Magistrates) Have not understood that terms the order could have included (eg prohibiting him from the family home, including children on order) Have not understood the language used (legalistic terms)

15 Supporting women To make an application for an Intervention Order, a woman must make a statement to police and this can take hours For a court application, she is required to attend the hearing – Family Violence Investigation Section (FVIS) of SAPOL also attend these to offer support (in metro area) Service of order can heighten her level of risk, therefore safety planning is essential Important that all breaches are reported – this again is time consuming as she needs to attend police station Woman will receive copies of order if granted and very important she provides copies of these to relevant places (eg childrens school/child care) When order is granted, defendant is given a response date to present to court – woman does not need to attend this hearing She can find out what is happening by contacting Magistrates Court Call Centre on 8204 2444 or ring her local FVIS

16 Additional concerns Inconsistency in responses – police and courts Lack of community awareness about the new legislation (in particular what is possible) Women not aware of what they can seek in an order (eg his removal from the home, tenancy orders, including children on orders, retrieving personal property) Does the system have the capacity to properly respond to the increased number of intervention orders? Concerns about negotiations between prosecution and defendant/defendants lawyer – to reach agreement, is too much being negotiated away? Victims voice in this process – how is she heard? Frequently hear from women that they dont know what is happening in criminal justice system In determining terms of the IO, need to listen to womens wishes – ensure orders are victim focused Women may not call police for fear of action being taken against their wishes Can take significant length of time from application through to confirmation and this causes considerable stress to women, wanting to know that the order is final.

17 Family Safety Framework (FSF) Womens Domestic Violence Services participate in this framework and sit on the Family Safety Meetings (FSM) in each LSA where they are established Womens DV Services are strong advocates for the framework – research indicates that information sharing and collaborative intervention lowers risk Key role – to advocate on behalf of the woman/children (as she is not present) In designing the Intervention Order Response Model, it was expected that there would be a strong overlap between this and the Family Safety Framework (but in reality numbers of families referred to both have been lower than expected)

18 Family Safety Framework (cont) WSCO role to act as Womens Domestic Violence Service Representative on Family Safety Meetings in their LSA Focus on risk and safety One contact point for agencies sharing information Assertive outreach to women on WSCP as well as women on FSF Opportunity to connect with women prior to next FSM to act on reducing risk more quickly FSM action can be to request prosecution seek he is referred to APP

19 Family Safety Framework - Strengths Very important initiative that provides a structure for agencies to get together to share information, assess risk and formulate action plans to reduce risk Allows various agencies to be alert to risk, and to act accordingly Plans can include: police and Corrections taking action in relation to perpetrator; schools being notified so safety plans can be put in place for children; women being kept informed of what is happening in relation to perpetrator; women being offered support and accommodation; womens homes receiving security upgrades, etc Very significant role in preventing further violence

20 Family Safety Framework - strengths For families at high and imminent risk, it provides Women's DV services (usually the service supporting these families) with a clear protocol and pathway to accessing information and intervention to reduce risk As a result of this framework and agencies coming together fortnightly, relationships and networks have developed that enable DV Services to access information/action quickly on behalf of the women/children they are supporting Educates those not working in DV Services about the dynamics and impacts of domestic violence Holds agencies to account

21 Family Safety Framework - challenges One of its intents is to hold perpetrators more accountable but as it is limited in how it can inform/influence judicial decision making, in reality this can be difficult to achieve Focus can be more on the victim than the perpetrator as she is more likely to cooperate with any actions Women and children fleeing domestic violence often have no choice but to move from one form of emergency accommodation to another, meaning referrals can be transferred from one LSA to another, causing delays in action being taken

22 Conclusion Womens Domestic Violence Services uphold the principle that the perpetrator is fully responsible for his use of violence and should be held accountable We advocate that domestic violence is everybodys concern and we must all strive for its elimination As such, we strongly support both the intervention order legislation and family safety framework but also advocate that more needs to be done to uphold every woman and childs human right to safety

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