One in three Australian women experience domestic violence. This research will increase our understanding of the role of law in assisting women of diverse backgrounds to live a life free of violence.
Domestic violence severely damages communities across the globe and law is recognised as a key mechanism for prevention and redress. This project will undertake a longitudinal study examining how women of diverse backgrounds use law to help them live a life free of violence. The project will investigate what influences women's decisions to choose particular legal interventions but not others, and will identify any unintended consequences flowing from legal engagement. The project will highlight what contributes to women’s satisfaction and sense of safety resulting from legal interventions over time, to make an important contribution to community education, policy implementation and law reform, both within Australia and internationally.
This research is funded by the Australian Research Council's Future Fellowship scheme (project number FT140100796). The project leader is Professor Heather Douglas.
Legal responses, including civil protection orders, criminal law, family law, child protection and immigration law, are a significant part of the response to domestic violence; however the way in which different legal systems overlap, conflict and work together has been an issue of major concern for law and policy makers and for women who use law.
Understanding the way in which women from diverse backgrounds engage with law has important implications for policy development and law reform. Regardless of whether the victim and the perpetrator begin to live separately or continue to reside together, there are often complex and continuing emotional, financial and legal ties between them and enduring and complex power dynamics. Financial and care responsibilities and visiting rights to children often remain post-separation.
This research will listen to women’s experience of the range of legal interventions available in cases of domestic violence, in order to understand how women engage with and experience legal interventions over time. Understanding how women use and experience legal interventions is critical to ensuring that education, policies and laws are developed which work for the women they are designed to protect.
As part of this research a series of interviews with women recruited from domestic and family violence services will be conducted. Women will be interviewed three times over a three year period.
In The Conversation:
- Heather Douglas and Leigh Goodmark, ‘Police Perpetrators of Domestic Violence: What do we know and what can be done?’ - 2 November 2015
- Heather Douglas and Leigh Goodmark, ‘Beware the Unintended Consequences of Police - Worn Body Cameras’ - 29 September 2015
Refereed Journal Articles:
- Emily Ng and Heather Douglas (2016) Domestic and family violence and the approach to bail. Law in Context: a socio-legal journal, 34 2: 36-57.
- Heather Douglas, Paul Harpur, ‘Intellectual Disabilities, Domestic Violence and Legal Engagement’  Disability & Society (online)
- Heather Douglas, ‘Do we need a Specific Domestic Violence Offence?’ (2015) 39(1) Melbourne University Law Review 434-471
- Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety to Violence against Women & their Children (ANROWS): www.anrows.org.au/
- Australian Feminist Judgments Project: www.law.uq.edu.au/the-australian-feminist-judgments-project
- Caxton Legal Centre: https://caxton.org.au/
- Immigrant Women’s Support Service: www.iwss.org.au/
- Queensland Indigenous Family Violence legal Service: www.qifvls.com.au/index.html
- Women’s Legal Service (Queensland): www.wlsq.org.au/
- Working Against Violence Support Service (WAVSS): www.wavss.org/
- Ipswich Women’s Centre Against Domestic Violence: www.iwcadv.org.au/
- WWILD (Working Alongside People with Intellectual and Learning Disabilities): www.wwild.org.au/
- Domestic Violence Assistance program (DVAP): http://qlddomesticviolencelink.org.au/the-domestic-violence-assistance-program-dvap/
- Heather Douglas, ‘Legal Systems (Abuse) and Domestic Violence’ , RMIT Law School Staff Seminar, 22 September 2016, Melbourne.
- Heather Douglas, ‘Coordinating responses: plugging the gaps in the system’ Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Australian Chapter 3rd Annual Conference, 18 August 2016, Brisbane.
- Douglas, Heather Anne (2016). Prosecuting Domestic Violence Cases: Is a New Offence the Answer?. In: IAS Fellows Seminar, Durham University, UK, 25 January.
- Douglas, Heather Anne (2016). Using Law in Response to Domestic Abuse: Women's Experiences. In: Domestic Abuse and the Search for Justice: Principles, Practices, Policies, Durham, 16 March 2016.
- Douglas, Heather Anne (2016). Legal Systems Abuse and Coercive Control. In: Two Steps Forward and Two Steps Back? Contemporary Issues in Access to Justice for Victims of Family and Domestic Violence, Legal Intersections Research Centre, School of Law, University of Wollongong, (). 15 April 2016.