Edition #31

New ANROWS project announced!
Building directly on the PIPA project, Elena Campbell and CIJ are leading the new ANROWS funded project 'WRAP around families experiencing adolescent violence in the home (AVITH)' to develop a framework for comprehensive support and earlier intervention.

In this project, CIJ, in partnership with the Centre for Family Research & Evaluation at drummond street services and Associate Professor Silke Meyer, Deputy Director of the Gender & Family Violence Prevention Centre at Monash University – will build directly on the PIPA project to research, identify and track support needs from marginalised populations who may be experiencing AVITH amid a range of co-occurring issues.

Research shows that the majority of existing interventions focus primarily on AVITH, without an opportunity to respond to the complexity across families. Little is known about prior service support, impacts on siblings or the extent to which addressing women’s experiences of intimate partner violence may mitigate the emergence of AVITH. This project will fill a gap in evidence and future practice, supporting the development of a whole-of-family, collaborative practice framework which services across Australia can employ.

Elena Campbell is the project lead, with Riley Ellard a co-investigator in addition to our partners at CFRE & Monash.

More than just a piece of paper: getting protection orders made in a safe and supported way

The need for safe and supported processes for reaching protection orders by consent is greater than ever before.

The CIJ is thrilled to be able to release research it conducted to support implementation of Recommendation 77 of the Royal Commission into Family ViolenceMore than just a piece of paper. Getting protection orders made in a safe and supported way. This research is being published after a dramatic adaptation of Victoria’s civil legal response to family violence. Delivered to government in July 2019, the findings and recommendations in this report were still being considered at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, when courts and legal services were suddenly required to shift to conducting urgent matters online.

This process of reaching orders 'by consent' has been identified by the Royal Commission into Family Violence as an area of concern as it is not always conducted in a way which keeps victim-survivors safe.


Building a more ‘victim-led’ system means asking victims of crime what they want – Part Two

Our previous blog post reflected on the CIJ’s research with victims of crime, which pointed to a need for smarter service design and delivery. By continually improving our understanding of what victims of crime need; what they expect from the service system; and how they would like to engage with services, victim support can be more effectively targeted and tailored to the needs of individuals and families as they progress through their recovery journey.

At the same time, the research highlighted a significant subset of victims of crime for whom intensive and holistic support remained crucial. The CIJ’s research found, for example, that victims of crime did not always have existing support networks and that this could play out in different ways across a victim’s interactions with the service system.


Women Transforming Justice – Final Evaluation Report released!

December 2020 marks 10 years since the UN adopted the Bangkok Rules - recognition that women in contact with the criminal justice system require gender-specific, non-custodial responses. Our evaluation of the Women Transforming Justice project shows the value of gender specific approaches to addressing unacceptable rises in women's incarceration in Victoria. Look out for more during 2021 around this vital issue


CIJ gives evidence to the Disability Royal Commission    

This week, CIJ’s Supporting Justice team gave evidence to the criminal justice hearing of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability ('DRC'). 

Dorothy Armstrong, CIJ’s Peer Support Worker and Adviser, spoke powerfully of her personal experiences at the hands of police and in the justice system and the need for change to be driven by the voices of people with lived experience. Together with Senior Adviser, Michael Haralambous, the pair walked the DRC Commissioners through the Supporting Justice System Map and CIJ’s vision for a disability and trauma aware criminal justice workforce.

"I lived in a constant state of [thinking] ‘I don’t know if I’m going to make it.’ It didn’t matter what I tried or who I talked to it was as though I just slipped through the cracks all the time and no one cared. No one cared at all." - Dorothy Armstrong

In giving evidence to the Criminal Justice Hearing, the team capped off over 12 months of advocacy that has included a written submission and Our Voices podcast with the Voices for Change self advocacy group. Dorothy also submitted her own personal statement to the Royal Commission which can be found on the DRC website here.

Our Submission to the Victorian Law Reform Commission’s Inquiry into Improving the Response of the Justice System to Sexual Offences

Victim/survivors seek a response to the harm they have experienced that allows them to feel that justice has been done. Some have a strong need to tell their story, in a forum where they are believed and supported. Some want to engage directly with the person responsible for the harm, to express how they have been affected, and see the person responsible acknowledge the wrongfulness of their actions. Others want the opportunity to meet with members of their own family, in cases where they were not been believed or supported when they disclosed the harm to family members.

Having a criminal prosecution in response to the harm they have experienced is very important to some victim/survivors, and those who feel this way must be supported and encouraged to pursue this avenue. However, the vast majority of victim/survivors do not report the harm to police. Of the cases that are reported, few result in a conviction of the person responsible. Other options for addressing the harm need to be available to victim/survivors, in addition to the criminal justice system.

The CIJ advocates for restorative justice processes that respond to sexual harm that are focused on the needs of victim/survivors. These processes must be ones in which victim/survivors can exercise agency, and which are responsive to them as individual people. The processes must be delivered in ways that recognise the power dynamics inherent in sexual offences, and that avoid replicating harmful myths and misconceptions about sexual violence.

Read VLRC'S Issues Paper G Sexual Offences: Restorative and Alternative Justice Models here >


Review of the Literature on Integrated Social Work and Legal Practice

In Semester 2 of 2020, Master of Social Work students, Anushia Andrews and Lauren Tarver, completed a project-based Field Education 2 placement at the Law and Advocacy Centre for Women researching integrated practice, with a particular focus on social work support in community legal settings which involved completing a literature review, which looks into integrated practice for social work service provision in community legal settings.

Integrated practice is growing as a service delivery model for community legal centres and in other legal settings and is an area in which social work is becoming more involved, as services embrace innovative ways to support people with multiple and complex needs.

The Literature review identifies existing research on integrated socio-legal collaborations and looks at areas such as benefits and challenges; models of integrated practice; integrated practice in tertiary education; principles for best practice; how COVID-19 impacted on integrated practice; and what gaps exist in the literature and areas for future research. 


RMIT Master of Social Work students, Anushia Andrews and Lauren Tarver
ANROWS National Research Conference on Violence Against Women - 
Evidence in Action
Online symposium, 1-5 March 2021
Australian Lawyers Association 'Part 2 - The need for new approaches to criminal justice'
Live webinar, 9 March 2021
Cognitively impaired admitting to crimes they say they didn’t commit
By Zach Hope, The Age, 20 February 2021
How reducing women’s imprisonment can further fiscal recovery
Elena Campbell, CEDA, 1 February 2021

Is forgiveness always possible?
Sunday Extra with Julian Morrow, ABC RN, 7 February 2021
On 'i4give Day' and Restorative Justice


Forgiveness is often hard. It's not always possible. But it can begin a process of healing
Sophie Kesteven and Skye Docherty, ABC News,14 February 2021
On 'i4give Day' and Restorative Justice

ICYMI: Backtrack Boys
Documentary by Catherine Scott, 2019
Watch the inspiring story of Backtrack – an excellent youth diversion program set up by Bernie Shakesshaft that really is helping to turn young lives around.

Take care out there!
- CIJ Team
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