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The Role of Socio-Economic & Familial Factors in the Pursuit of Final Violence Restraining Orders For Women Subjected to Family & Domestic Violence

Goulding, D. (2007) The Role of Socio-Economic & Familial Factors in the Pursuit of Final Violence Restraining Orders For Women Subjected to Family & Domestic Violence. Centre for Social and Community Research, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia.

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The problems faced by the women who participated in this study are typical of those faced by most women who have experienced domestic and family violence. Their lives are characterised by fear, high levels of stress, depression and ongoing anxiety. This study has sought to illustrate the particular difficulties faced by women in their attempts to flee situations of domestic violence regardless of their decisions to utilise or otherwise the full extent of the legal system. It is hoped that the study will contribute substantially to the knowledge base necessary for effective policy review and legislative change in the area of family and domestic violence.

In the body of the report the following major issues are highlighted and discussed:
•Police intervention, including serving Violence Restraining Orders, Violence Restraining Order breaches and Department of Community Development involvement.
•Levels of fearfulness experienced by the women.
•Court related issues, including appearing in court, restraining order issues and family court issues
•Violence Restraining Orders and women’s feelings of safety
•Interim and/or Final Violence Restraining Orders
•The importance of support and advocacy in the pursuit of restraining orders.

The report includes the following recommendations:
•Holistic approach to service provision: Police and Courts need to work more collaboratively with each other and non government domestic violence support and advocacy services to better serve the safety of women and children fleeing situations of domestic violence.
•Perpetrator programs: there is an urgent need for a substantial increase in the number of available perpetrator programs. It is recommended that the development and independent evaluation of perpetrator programs receive prioritised attention and ongoing secured funding. Such programs should be court ordered and mandatory, at least in the case of serial and serious abusers. Program development should also be mindful of cultural appropriateness and a ‘one size fits all’ approach should be avoided.
•Police intervention: Although participants expressed a general level of satisfaction with police intervention in domestic violence incidents, where there was dissatisfaction it appeared to be due to an officer specific attitude. This suggests that there is a need for ongoing professional development for frontline police officers in all aspects of domestic violence.
•Courts and domestic violence: Court issues were the most problematic for the majority of the participants. Being in close proximity to their abusers in court, the hierarchical nature of the court system, and Magistrates with seemingly no sensitivity to the women’s emotional fragility and levels of fearfulness were seen to be central and highly problematic. These issues are complex in nature and further research and discussion is called for.
•Aboriginal women and Violence Restraining Orders: The notion of, and the application process for, Violence Restraining Orders is culturally inappropriate within many Indigenous communities. Given that Aboriginal women are 45 times more likely to be victims of domestic violence than their non Aboriginal counterparts, it is recommended that policy and legislation in the area of domestic violence ought to be more responsive to the needs of, and less threatening to, Aboriginal people. In order to achieve this goal there should be extensive consultation and negotiation with Aboriginal communities to initiate the development of alternative methods of community and/or legal intervention in dealing with all aspects of domestic and family violence.

Item Type: Report
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Centre for Social and Community Research
Publisher: Centre for Social and Community Research, Murdoch University
Copyright: Centre for Social and Community Research, Murdoch University
Notes: In collaboration with SCALES - Southern Communities Advocacy & Legal Education Service Inc.
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