Improved accountability: The role of the perpetrator intervention systems – project update

abstract image to conceptualise perpetrator pathway mapping

Improved accountability: The role of the perpetrator intervention systems project, funded under the ANROWS Perpetrator Interventions Research Stream, is led by Professor Donna Chung at Curtin University in WA. The project is a nation-wide collaboration with six key institutions, and looks at how systems of service can have greater orientation towards perpetrator accountability and the promotion of women’s and children’s safety. There is wide ranging consensus in the community that those responsible for the use of violence and abuse should be held accountable for their actions and the negative effects it has on others. However, the means by which this principle can be variously translated and actioned in everyday practice across a diversity of services requires attention. 

To date the justice system has largely held the task via the police, courts and correctional services. 

This project is looking more widely to document and identify how both family and domestic violence services and mainstream agencies play a role in their ways of working to scaffold perpetrator accountability across the intervention system. 

Project researchers are currently undertaking a large in-depth mapping exercise that is building detailed maps of the perpetrator intervention systems and the associated legislation and policy. These maps offer insights into the multiple pathways by which perpetrators are (and could be) identified and directed towards/referred to services that could promote safety, similarly opportunities for strategic points of assessment and information sharing are evident and emerging. The early findings of this process point to the vital role of identifying perpetrators and promoting women’s and children’s safety. The intention is that by better understanding these pathways we can prevent service systems from losing sight of the perpetrator and open up new ways of responding earlier. 

A key dimension of the project includes development of a conceptual model that examines responses to perpetrators across the life course. This innovative approach is beginning to highlight where perpetrator interventions are concentrated and overlooked, or differing according to the type of violence against women committed and the parties involved. The diversity of responses will be developed further in case studies of various parts of the perpetrator response including the justice system dealing with family and domestic violence, a men’s behaviour change program for non-court order men, a health service running a child sexual abuse service where the abuser and victim are both children and the operation of a family and domestic violence response in a rural area. The broader aim of this project is to bring into people’s view the considerable range of perpetrator responses and the need for further consideration of how to develop the complex range of responses into the future.