In December 2016, 11 projects were funded by ANROWS through the Perpetrator Intervention Research Stream Grants Round. The purpose of the Round was to engage research projects to improve the evidence base on perpetrator interventions, to explore the effectiveness of different interventions, to identify models to address perpetrator diversity, and to develop interventions by, with, and for, Indigenous communities. One of the projects funded by the stream was the PIPA project, a multi-agency proposal led by the Centre for Innovative Justice at RMIT in Victoria, focusing on adolescent violence in the home (AVITH).
AVITH is poorly understood, and the evidence base for effective interventions for young people who perpetrate family violence is very limited. While disparate programs across Australia offer services in this context, a considered policy response has not been developed, with practices differing within and across jurisdictions. The recent 2016 Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence highlighted the lack of public and sector awareness around this issue and called for AVITH to be recognised as a distinct form of family violence with its own dedicated research and policy streams.
Responding to these recommendations, the PIPA Project aims to increase understanding about the prevalence of, and responses to, AVITH in Australia. It seeks to build awareness of AVITH and to identify available responses and service gaps across three jurisdictions: Tasmania, Western Australia and Victoria. The PIPA Project is a multi-agency project led by the Centre for Innovative Justice (CIJ) at RMIT University in partnership with Kildonan UnitingCare, Legal Aid Western Australia, Peel Youth Services, the University of Tasmania and Victoria Legal Aid.
In late April, CIJ held a forum focusing on Family Violence: Responding to the Next Generation at the State Library of Victoria. Facilitated by Rob Hulls, Director of CIJ, and attended by over 100 people, the forum featured the following panel members:
- The Hon. Gavin Jennings, Special Minister of State overseeing the implementation of the Royal Commission into Family Violence recommendations
- Lily Anderson, Step Up Program, USA
- Judge Amanda Chambers, President of the Children's Court of Victoria
- Jo Howard, experienced practitioner and researcher in AVITH field
- Elizabeth Grawe, a parent with direct experience of AVITH
- Jamie Marloo Thomas, Wayapa Wuurrk Aboriginal Wellness Foundation
Forum attendees included high level government and policy representatives; members of the legal profession; academics; students; and members of the family violence, social and community services sector. In addition to the Forum, research Project Partners and other interested agencies including the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, the Children’s Court of Victoria and the Judicial College of Victoria contributed funds to support the visit of Lily Anderson from the US. Ms Anderson is the co-founder of the Step Up in the United States – an adolescent parent model based on restorative practice. During her visit the PIPA project was able to facilitate delivery of:
- an all day practitioner workshop for service providers around adolescent violence
- judicial education for Children’s Court and other Magistrates around legal responses; and
- a two hour workshop for Victoria Legal Aid lawyers concerning the same.
The Centre for Innovative Justice has also been invited to visit Ms Anderson in Seattle, Washington, at a later time to report on the findings of the PIPA Project once complete.
Feedback from the Forum has been very positive, with the breadth and complexity of the issues associated with AVITH highlighted. The Forum audience was particularly struck by the courage and experience of Elizabeth Grawe, the parent who spoke about her direct experience.