Is this how we can finally defeat family violence?


AUSTRALIA is being urged to adopt a new approach to domestic violence that would see high-risk offenders targeted by "any legal means available".

The "focused deterrence approach" would also mobilise community leaders to personally confront prolific DV offenders.

The recommendations come just weeks after the ­murder of Brisbane's Hannah Clarke and her three children by husband Rowan Baxter in a car fire at Camp Hill that shook the nation.

The Australia Institute of Criminology paper, released yesterday, said despite significant investment aimed at reducing domestic violence, it remained "unacceptably high".

Currently one woman is killed every nine days by their partner in Australia and there are more than 320,000 victims of domestic violence a year.

Police across the country respond to a domestic violence incident every two minutes on average.


Hannah Clarke with son Trey
Hannah Clarke with son Trey


"Unfortunately, interventions designed to reduce domestic violence in the short term have been found to have limited effectiveness," the paper said.

It recommends Australia trials a focused deterrence approach, a method first pioneered to deter gangs in the US but which has since been expanded to include domestic ­violence.

A key part of the approach is a "call-in" where prominent community members confront offenders over their behaviour in a forum.

High-risk offenders are targeted by "any legal means possible" which could mean charging them with non-DV offences if it produced more effective sanctions.

For a domestic violence incident that doesn't result in arrest, the offender receives a letter detailing close police monitoring and consequences of further offending.

Victims are also strongly supported. Each action against an offender triggers the providing of services to the victim.

Women’s Legal Service Queensland CEO Angela Lynch
Women’s Legal Service Queensland CEO Angela Lynch

Women's Legal Service Queensland CEO Angela Lynch said she would be supportive of a trial.

"We would be quite interested in some kind of approach to high-risk domestic violence offenders and trialling new ideas to see whether it has some impact," she said.

"It's really building on existing infrastructure so it seems like a really sensible utilisation of resources to trial try this and see how it goes."

Despite being a relatively new method, it has offered promising results. Where introduced in the US, it has ­significantly reduced serious domestic violence, especially intimate partner homicide. There has also been a decrease in domestic violence calls to police, and victim injuries.

The State Government declined to comment ahead of its domestic violence summit which was slated for next month.

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