Instant jail terms, or flash incarceration, for perpetrators who do not comply with court orders is one of a range of recommendations to break the cycle of family violence outlined in a major new RMIT University report.
Australian of the Year and anti-domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty launched the report in Melbourne today.
The RMIT Centre for Innovative Justice report, Opportunities for early intervention: bringing perpetrators of family violence into view, has been lodged with the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department.
The report lists a range of recommendations highlighting ways the justice system can interrupt the cycle of family violence to make perpetrators more visible.
Director of the Centre for Innovative Justice, Adjunct Professor Rob Hulls, said it was time to intervene earlier to turn the spotlight on perpetrators of family violence.
“The community is finally coming to terms with the scale of family violence and its impact on women and children but we have yet to turn our full attention to those actually wielding violence and control,” Adjunct Professor Hulls said.
“Until we intervene at the source of the problem, the cycle of this violence will simply roll on.”
“Generally, the justice system offers a pretty blunt response by issuing an order or passing a sentence and sending a perpetrator away, rather than keeping him within reach.
“This report offers more nuanced and systemic scrutiny at all points along the spectrum of the justice system’s contact with a violent or controlling man.”
Rosie Batty, whose son Luke was killed by his father, has vowed to use her Australian of the Year title to continue to fight against domestic violence.
“These recommendations are about removing the burden from victims of family violence and placing it squarely on the system,” Batty said.
“They point to opportunities for all Governments to guarantee that the justice system interacts more effectively with perpetrators of family violence and ensure that they don’t slip off the radar.”
The report calls for jurisdictions to support a dedicated Perpetrator Interventions conference to highlight existing initiatives and best practice that both State and Federal Governments can adopt immediately.
It also highlights ways the justice system – from police, to courts and corrections – can connect perpetrators with treatment for alcohol abuse or mental health issues that need to be addressed to help them deal with their violence.
Other recommendations include:
Bringing perpetrators of family violence back before the same judge for ongoing monitoring and swift, certain sanctions, including “flash incarceration” if they do not comply with court orders.
Early intervention in Family Violence Strategies to contribute to a comprehensive evidence base.
All jurisdictions to support men’s behavior change programs as a fully funded and properly developed sector.
Contact with courts or corrections systems to be used as an opportunity to identify the use of family violence by other offenders and connect them with relevant treatment to stop the cycle of family violence.
It also identified the urgent need for a more sophisticated response to deal with the connection between adult family violence and transmission of violence to subsequent generations – not only to children, but to an increasing number of adolescents who use violence against their own families.
“Safety and support for women and children will always remain paramount but we have to look at interventions that will, ultimately, place less demand on the broader system,” Hulls said.
“We have to make perpetrators of family violence responsible for their own behavior, but we are all accountable for how the community steps up to meet it.
“This aim of this report is to explain that we are now in a position to make a start.”
– Pro Bono Australia