Changes to domestic violence programmes by Ministry of Justice, Department of Corrections

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Changes to domestic violence programmes are being undertaken by both the Ministry of Justice and Department of Corrections. Below is a brief overview of Ministry of Justice changes to funded domestic violence programmes, and a new domestic violence programme for community offenders to be piloted by the Department of Corrections.

Ministry of Justice

Changes to the approval, purchase and provision of Ministry of Justice funded domestic violence programmes ordered as a result of a protection order by Family or Criminal Courts will come into effect on 1 October 2014. The changes come into place under the Domestic Violence Amendment Act 2013, part of the wider Family Court Proceedings Reform Bill.

A Ministry of Justice review of the Family Court in 2011 and 2012 decided that a greater range of domestic violence programmes should be provided in a more flexible manner. The changes under the Act affect both the approval criteria and process and the goals and structures of programmes. The changes are being implemented in a staged way, with full implementation by 1 October 2014. Specifically, the Act will:

  • Disestablish the Domestic Violence Programmes Approval Panel and render any approvals given by the panel of no effect;
  • Give the responsibility to grant, suspend or cancel approvals of service providers to the Secretary for Justice;
  • Introduce new referral processes from the court to service providers, and new reporting responsibilities from service providers to the court;
  • Encourage greater access to safety programmes by protected persons;
  • Encourage greater reporting of safety concerns;
  • Strengthen requirements for reporting non-compliance with direction to attend programmes for respondents;
  • Provide for greater flexibility and responsiveness of programme content, duration and delivery;
  • Require providers to undertake individual assessments of respondents to assess non-violence programme needs and suitability;
  • Agree and report on an individually tailored programme plan (terms of attendance) for each respondent;
  • Ensure safety concerns raised during assessments or programme sessions are reported immediately to the court;
  • Require providers to report final programme outcomes to the court;
  • Allow for referrals to be made to another service provider or to other social services where appropriate.

The changes will replace "Programmes for Protected Persons" with "Safety Programmes". It is proposed that a "safety needs identification and ‘First Aid’ safety advice service" will be carried out by providers once a referral is received from the court. The changes also align the goals of children's programmes with those for adult protected persons.

Changes to non-violence programmes (for respondents) include that while they will still be delivered to a group, "a group non-violence programme may look very different for different people and it moves away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach to programme design and delivery."

To support these changes, the Ministry of Justice will establish "Provider Practice Standards" to assess programme delivery, rather than the previous use of programme criteria. Service providers will be required to meet the policy objectives of:

  • Improved safety outcomes for protected persons and their children;
  • Increased accountability of respondents;
  • Delivery of programmes based on responsive and evidence-based programme design;
  • Improved programme outcomes.

The Ministry will also be seeking to extend the availability of Safety Programmes to include victims of defendants in Criminal Court proceedings where there is no protection order.

Further information can be found in the Changes to Domestic Violence Programmes document and on the Ministry of Justice website.

Other changes as a result of the Family Court reforms come into effect on 31 March 2014.

Department of Corrections

A new domestic violence programme for community offenders is to be introduced by the Department of Corrections. The programme will be piloted by selected providers from July 2014 and is scheduled to be rolled out nationally in 2015. Corrections Minister Anne Tolley said, "The new domestic violence programme, based on international best practice, will provide a more effective, uniform approach across the country, replacing the range of different programmes which currently exist."

The programme aims to reduce re-offending and re-victimisation by focussing on minimising harm caused by drugs and alcohol, improving relationships and parenting skills, and managing emotions and attitudes. It consists of 26 sessions over 60 hours. Probation Officers will also be trained in working with domestic violence offenders to identify risks and warning signs and provide rehabilitation. A real-time programme evaluation will be conducted before the scheduled full roll out in 2015.

In 2012, Corrections published a literature review on community-based domestic violence interventions, examining the status of domestic violence interventions in Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, United States and New Zealand.

Media:

Rehab for domestic violence offenders, 3 News, 13.03.2014