Improving the response to family violence

News in Britain this week of the appointment of Seema Malhotra as shadow minister to tackle violence against women and girls, is presented as demonstrating a growing commitment in this country to combatting both domestic violence and related issues. At the same time, we have seen the launch of the No More Deaths campaign to put family violence at the top of the state election agenda in Victoria, Australia, where it is recognised that women and families have been failed over and over again by prevailing attitudes and culture, themselves embedded in official responses. (also here)

Reading the latter reminded me that I had not written about a report published at the beginning of the year in Australia, looking at criminal justice responses to adolescent violence in the home. The Last Resort: Pathways to Justice, written by Jo Howard and Lisa Abbott, examined the separate experiences of adolescents and family members where violence was a reason for police involvement, and was particularly interested in the use of Intervention Orders. Significant room for improvement was identified, and a number of recommendations made in terms of raised awareness, understanding, and consistent protocols, as a means to enhance family safety and support adolescent change.

Within the State of Victoria there are now a number of programmes specifically aimed at diversion from the criminal justice system, involving police, youth justice and legal services. I have written about these previously here and here.

It is worth reiterating that there may have been many years of violence from their children before parents finally contact the police for help, often as a last resort where other help has been unforthcoming. Some adolescents perpetuating violence at home will never come to the attention of the police; and indeed, there are many incidents of violence where this might not be appropriate, for instance if a child has a particular disability or learning difficulty.


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