Hunter-based Lawyer Joplin Higgins calls for domestic violence shift to rehabilitation | Newcastle Herald

0
54
Hunter-based Lawyer Joplin Higgins calls for domestic violence shift to rehabilitation | Newcastle Herald

News, local news, domestic violence, Joplin Higgins, Hunter Community Legal Center, coercive control

The focus in the fight against domestic violence needs to shift to offender rehabilitation and Australia has much to learn, according to Joplin Higgins, Newcastle lawyer and researcher. Ms. Higgins calls for a change in engagement strategies and the introduction of long-term behavior change programs targeting domestic violence perpetrators. In a report released on May’s National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Ms. Higgins says the way Australia is trying to deal with the problem is “like using Panadol to treat cancer.” “There are currently minimal relationships with perpetrators,” she said. “Programs in Australia last an average of 12 to 18 weeks, compared to programs examined in the report that last longer than 52 weeks. A few months are clearly not enough to change violent and abusive behavior, sometimes throughout a lifetime.” Overseas domestic violence has focused on targeting perpetrators’ behavior and invested in supporting offenders who are motivated to change. “Australian statistics show that one woman per week dies from domestic violence and one in three women has experienced physical violence since then, she said. One in five has experienced sexual violence since the same age. The behavior change programs examined in her report of men involves a year-long commitment to working with entire families that helps bring victims and children to light while the perpetrators are met Ms. Joplin traveled to the United States to investigate men’s behavior change programs and meet with moderators. One of the key findings of their report is that funding increases are of the utmost importance to ensure that resources that provide instant safety to women and children are not stolen from victim services. Domestic violence has been viewed predominantly as a criminal issue when it is clear that a response from several authorities is required, s agt them. Programs run in Australia are significantly fragmented and vary from state to state and between service providers, she said. IN NEWS TODAY: “Australia’s approach lacks the coordination of programs and consistent messages that work alongside campaigns against domestic violence, early intervention and schooling.” The one size fits all and belief that all perpetrators are the same is not enough, she said, and is not supported by current research. So far, domestic violence reforms have been reactive, there has been no coordinated response, and they have focused on crises and post-crises as opposed to primary and secondary prevention, she says. There is a substantial waiting list for programs that lag behind those overseas, where programs run for over a year and can be operated from residential facilities. In Australia, there is a growing demand for programs with waiting lists between six and eight months and 12 to 20 weeks in length with two to four hours per session. Ms. Joplin has referred to NSW’s Parliamentary Inquiry into Coercive Control in Domestic Relations, which examines the issues, including whether they should be criminalized in NSW. Many of the contributions submitted point to problems that can arise from the introduction of a new crime that critics say is difficult to prove, difficult to monitor, and re-accountable. In their statement, the Hunter Community Legal Center says that police involvement can lead to additional violence for many women. The creation of a new crime does not address the “well-documented concerns” victims have for not engaging with the criminal trial, it said. The committee will publish its report in June. Our journalists work hard to deliver local, breaking news to the community. Here’s how you can still access our trusted content:

/images/transform/v1/crop/frm/xtb7LvhUpWdRyX3MGXCxS3/0affcfd1-0b13-432b-b85d-f5b2c69d8375.jpg/r0_254_5000_3079_w1200_h678_fmax.jpg

The focus in the fight against domestic violence needs to shift to offender rehabilitation and Australia has much to learn, according to Joplin Higgins, Newcastle lawyer and researcher.

Ms. Higgins calls for a change in engagement strategies and the introduction of long-term behavior change programs targeting domestic violence perpetrators.

In a report released on May’s National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Ms. Higgins says the way Australia is trying to deal with the problem is “like using Panadol to treat cancer.”

“There are currently minimal relationships with perpetrators,” she said. “Programs in Australia last an average of 12 to 18 weeks, compared to programs looked at in the report that last longer than 52 weeks. A few months are clearly not enough to change a lifetime of violent and abusive behavior.

“Responses to domestic violence overseas have targeted perpetrators’ behavior directly and invested in helping criminals motivated to change.”

Australian statistics show that one woman dies every week as a result of domestic violence and one in three women has experienced physical violence since she was 15, she said. One in five people has experienced sexual violence since the same age.

The behavior change programs for men examined in their report include a year-long commitment to working with entire families, which helps bring victims and children to the fore while perpetrators fulfill their commitments.

Ms. Joplin traveled to the United States to research men’s behavior change programs and to meet with moderators. One of the key findings of their report is that increasing funds is of the utmost importance to ensure that funds are not stolen from victims who provide instant security for women and children.

Domestic violence has been viewed primarily as a criminal justice issue when it is clear that a multi-agency response is required, she says. Programs run in Australia are significantly fragmented and vary from state to state and between service providers, she said.

STRONG NEWS: Vigils like those held in Newcastle earlier this month were held to bring communities together and to remember all of the women who have been killed by violence.

“Australia’s approach lacks the coordination of programs and consistent messages that work alongside campaigns against domestic violence, early intervention and schooling.”

The one size fits all and belief that all perpetrators are the same is not enough, she said, and is not supported by current research.

So far, domestic violence reforms have been reactive, there has been no coordinated response, and they have focused on crises and post-crises as opposed to primary and secondary prevention, she says. There is a substantial waiting list for programs that lag behind those overseas, where programs run for over a year and can be operated from residential facilities.

In Australia, there is a growing demand for programs with waiting lists between six and eight months and 12 to 20 weeks in length with two to four hours per session.

Ms. Joplin has referred to NSW’s Parliamentary Inquiry into Coercive Control in Domestic Relations, which examines the issues, including whether they should be criminalized in NSW.

Many of the contributions submitted point to problems that can arise from the introduction of a new crime that critics say is difficult to prove, difficult to monitor, and re-accountable.

In their statement, the Hunter Community Legal Center says that police involvement can lead to additional violence for many women. The creation of a new crime does not address the “well-documented concerns” victims have for not engaging with the criminal trial, it said. The committee will publish its report in June.

Our journalists work hard to deliver local, breaking news to the community. Here’s how you can still access our trusted content: