This state of knowledge paper investigates the enforcement and information sharing of domestic and family violence protection orders (DVPOs) in Australia. It examines current knowledge on the enforcement of DVPOs in Australia; including underpinning legislation and the perspectives of victims and their advocates, police and magistrates and lawyers. The paper also presents the existing knowledge on information sharing related to protection orders, within and across agencies and across state borders.
The paper finds that for victims and their advocates, police and judicial decision-making and their experiences of government systems have a lasting impact on their lives. The consequences of ineffective responses can be frustrating, disempowering and potentially lead to lethal consequences.
Research indicates that policing is pivotal in the enforcement of protection orders. Innovative police practice showed the willingness of some police sections to improve effectiveness, victim safety and perpetrator accountability, but there are some concerns on knowledge of the dynamics of domestic violence.
On the role of judicial officers and the legal profession, research indicated there are still concerning attitudes of gender bias towards victims and offenders. Victims felt disempowered when they felt they were not believed by the legal system.
Information sharing and interagency cooperation can improve the effective enforcement of protection orders, but only where there is a commitment by professionals to support and actively promote cooperation.
Understanding and improving risk and safety in domestic violence in important in supporting and improving the enforcement of protection orders. A lack of understanding risks leaving victims unprotected.
Risk management requires sharing of information between agencies; it is vital that information sharing mechanisms are accompanied by training, knowledge and staff participation.
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