Perpetrator interventions in Australia: A national study of judicial views and sentencing practice for domestic violence offenders

Project Summary - PI.17.02

Perpetrator interventions strategic research priority 1.2: Evaluation of specific system responses Perpetrator Interventions in Australia: A national study of judicial views and sentencing practice for domestic violence offenders

Despite increasing acknowledgement of the importance of perpetrator interventions in the delivery of integrated responses to DFV and promoting perpetrator accountability, there remains very little understanding of how magistrates and other judicial officers view, manage and use perpetrator interventions.

This qualitative mixed method study will utilise case analysis of sentencing remarks (homicide and breach convictions), interviews with judicial officers, and documentary and policy analysis to examine the use, influence and management of perpetrator interventions in sentencing of recidivist and high risk DV offenders.  It aims to document the extent to which histories of perpetrator interventions are present, and the influence of these on sentencing, including an exploration of the views of magistrates and judicial officers on their use.

Research Phase 1: Case analysis

An analysis of five years of sentencing judgments from two offence groups will be undertaken. The research will undertake a national and state based study of:

  • Remarks made about perpetrator interventions during the sentencing of domestic homicide offenders across Australia for a five-year period.
  • Remarks made during the sentencing of offenders convicted of breach of an intervention order in Victoria.

Data from a range of sources will be used.

Research Phase 2: In-depth interviews

These will be completed to examine judicial views on the use, management and extent of perpetrator interventions for domestic violence offenders. Interviews will be conducted in each state and territory with two levels of the judiciary – specialist family/domestic violence magistrates and criminal court judges. In each of the larger states (Victoria, NSW, Western Australia, Queensland) 10-12 interviews will be conducted. In each of the smaller jurisdictions (Tasmania, South Australia, Australian Capital Territory) five interviews will be conducted.

Research Phase 3: Documentary and policy analysis

Findings from the case analyses and in-depth interviews will be combined with a documentary analysis of current national and international best practice. 

Researchers

Project Lead

Dr Kate Fitz-Gibbon, Monash University

Research expertise

  1. A/Prof Jane Maree Maher, Monash University
  2. Prof Jude McCulloch, Monash University
  3. Prof Gregory Reinhardt, The Australasian Institute of Judicial Administration 

Practitioner expertise

Ms Cynthia Harwood, The Victorian Sentencing Advisory Council 

Research partners

A national expert advisory group will be established. 

Project length

1.5 years

Budget

$179,890