Bringing the law into order on domestic violence

9 Oct 2018

The School of Law's bench book project is providing tools to help the judiciary better protect victims of domestic violence. 

There are many ways to hurt somebody, and domestic violence encompasses them all – physical, psychological, sexual and financial abuse, in private and in public, in relationships and often for many years after separation.

University of Queensland's Professor of Law Heather Douglas has spent 20 years working in domestic and family violence, and is starkly aware of the stress and trauma faced by victims. The oft-cited statistics around violence against women are shocking.

Nearly one Australian woman is killed each week by a current or former partner, and one in three Australian women has experienced physical violence, with many also experiencing sexual violence or emotional abuse.

These distressing statistics have prompted Professor Douglas’s latest project, the National Domestic and Family Violence Bench Book.

Because there are also many ways to protect somebody: from holding perpetrators accountable to ensuring effective sentencing and legal processes that treat victims with dignity and respect.

Judges need tools to help them make the best decisions to provide this protection, and Professor Douglas and the bench book team are working towards providing these tools.

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