Monday, 19 May 2008

Tas: Domestic Violence Act Review

The Tasmanian Government has reviewed the Domestic Violence Act, as part of its Safe at Home strategy.

The review report sets out:

In relation to achieving a reduction in the level of family violence in the medium to long term, it is still
early days. To determine when, and to what extent, family violence is decreasing will require
particular research attention, tracking trends over time and undertaking meaningful assessment.
The data available to the review indicates that in the 2007-08 year to date, police are attending an
average of 403 incidents of family conflict each month. This is down 3.5% from the 2006-07
average of 418 per month.
􀀁 The safety of adult victims of family violence has seen improvement, particularly at the first point of
contact with police, as a result of the new police powers and changed practices. A view commonly
raised, however, is that Safe at Home is yet to fulfil its potential, with concerns that the positive front
end impact being delivered by police is being diminished through the course of the criminal justice
process.
􀀁 Under the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1997 (Tas) police are mandated to
report all family violence incidents where children are present. According to the Department
approximately 30% of such reports result in a child being allocated to a child protection caseload. It
is beyond the scope of this review to evaluate whether such a response is improving the safety of
child victims of family violence, or the impact of the Family Violence Counselling and Support
Service. Of note is the lack of confidence amongst well-placed stakeholders that child victims are
experiencing improved safety.
􀀁 The final objective of the Act is to change the offending behaviour of those responsible for violence.
There are essentially two points of impact in relation to this objective. Firstly, Safe at Home was
intended to have a deterrent impact, that is, a reduction in repeat offending. Without a base line this
is not reliably measured, however, the Department advised the review that initial trends are
indicating positive results. The other mechanism within the Act is referral of convicted offenders to
the Family Violence Offender Intervention Program (FVOIP). The data available in relation to the
effectiveness of this measure in achieving the object of changing offending behaviour was
anecdotal, and included concerns about the narrow eligibility and the restricted availability of the
course, and in some areas, an absence of referrals to the course.

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