'World first' project to reduce impact of domestic violence in Aboriginal communities

NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman. Photo: Kate Geraghty.
NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman. Photo: Kate Geraghty.

A “world-first” project to help reduce the impact of domestic violence in Aboriginal communities will expand to courts at Dubbo and multiple locations in western NSW.

The initiative focuses on helping Aboriginal defendants comply with apprehended domestic violence orders (ADVOs).

It was announced by Attorney-General Mark Speakman, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Pru Goward and Member for Murray Adrian Piccoli.

Orana Law Society president Andrew Boog welcomed the move.

Mr Speakman and Mr Piccoli on Wednesday met with the Department of Justice’s Aboriginal Service Unit in Griffith to announce the extension of the pilot of the What’s Your Plan? service to cover 46 court locations across NSW.

“This is a world-first voluntary project aimed at reducing domestic violence within Aboriginal communities,” Mr Speakman said.

“Aboriginal defendants unfortunately account for a quarter of all breaches of ADVOs. Aboriginal people make up just three percent of the NSW population.”

Defendants who volunteer for What’s Your Plan? will meet with an Aboriginal client and community support officer to develop a tailored strategy to comply with their ADVO. They will be offered SMS reminders to help them stay on track and a follow up call to check on progress.

The pilot is a joint initiative of the Department of Justice’s Aboriginal Services Unit and the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s Behavioural Insights Unit.

The NSW Premier has prioritised reducing the proportion of domestic violence perpetrators reoffending by 25 per cent by 2019.

“Research shows projects with a similar structure to What’s Your Plan? have been successful in reducing alcohol consumption and smoking and improving relationships, but this is the first time the approach has been tested in the context of ADVOs,” Ms Goward said.

“The service will be evaluated by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research and the outcomes will contribute to global evidence.”

Mr Boog was pleased to hear the service would come to Dubbo, Bourke, Brewarrina, Coonamble, Orange, Parkes, Walgett, Wellington and Wilcannia, among the other locations.

Orana Law Society president Andrew Boog.

Orana Law Society president Andrew Boog.

“Whenever the government puts more resources into a program it’s always welcome, particularly when the program appears to be working,” Mr Boog said.

“It’s an identified area of need, so it’s only appropriate we look at ways to address it.

“The question has to be asked of course how much of this problem can be attributed to drugs and alcohol.

“And we’re looking forward to further government announcements in those areas of need.

“While cures are always welcome, preventions are often better.”