Judges receive professional development on family violence

Image: OrangeSparrow

Over 150 District Court Judges have received professional development on family violence at a judicial conference held in Wellington in May 2015.

The three day conference focused on family violence in recognition of the increasing complexity of family violence cases brought before Judges in District and Family Courts. The conference aimed to challenge Judges' ideas around family violence and increase awareness of how to respond to victims and perpetrators.

Clinical psychologists, counsellors, non-violence programme facilitators, Police, lawyers and academics spoke on issues regarding risk assessment, vulnerable witnesses, the needs of victims, the behavioural science of family violence, and policy and law developments.

During the conference, Judges discussed challenges such as having to make bail and sentencing decisions based on limited information about the risk posed by the perpetrator to their family. Judges heard case studies in which important information held by prosecuting and other authorities was not made available to Judges. They discussed ways to work with the Ministry of Justice, Police and Corrections to improve the provision of information so Judges can make informed risk assessments.

Chief District Court Judge Jan-Marie Doogue said "I believe it is essential that in order to best address family violence, Judges must remain abreast of the latest developments not only in law but also in policy, psychology, academia, and in practice ... This conference is a major step forward towards ensuring Judges are as up to date as we possibly can be."

She said family violence "will remain a focus for the judiciary," with Judges in all courts continuing to receive family violence seminars and materials in the coming years alongside other professional development.

Resources

International

Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety (ANROWS) has published Judicial education for domestic and family violence: State of knowledge paper (June 2015).

In the United States, a National Judicial Institute on Domestic Violence was formed through a partnership between Futures without Violence, the US Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. The Institute provides a wide range of educational programmes, giving judges a better understanding of how to navigate criminal and civil cases involving violence against women.

Also in the United States, The Greenbook Initiative seeks to promote safety by providing judicial, court, child welfare and domestic violence workers with understandings, capacity, and tools to address the co-occurrence of child and woman abuse.

UN Women's Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women and Girls provides access to tools and links to support judicial training. An initiative of UN Women, the Centre is an online resource designed to serve the needs of policymakers, programme implementers and other practitioners dedicated to addressing violence against women and girls. It brings together contributions from expert organisations and individuals, governments, United Nations sister agencies, and a wide range of relevant actors.

Aotearoa New Zealand

Two papers prepared for the Taskforce for Action on Violence within Families have highlighted urgent workforce development needs in family violence:

Training and education for the family violence workforce: Developing a national training framework (revised) (2013)

and

Family violence workforce development (2012).

Image: 'A little justice' by Orange Sparrow. Licence Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)