The Law of Equality and Justice: Evaluating Domestic Violence Outcomes for Aboriginal Women in New South Wales

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Copyright: Russon, Belinda
Abstract
The ubiquitous nature of domestic violence in Australia prompted the development of civil legal protection orders to better protect victims of domestic violence from current or future violence. For victims of domestic violence in New South Wales (NSW), Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs) are the most commonly utilised legal protection available. Despite the overwhelming research available on domestic and family violence, little is known about Aboriginal women’s perception of domestic violence and ADVOs, and the effectiveness of this legal instrument in protecting them. This study examines and evaluates the effectiveness of ADVOs for Aboriginal women living in NSW and analyses their perceptions of domestic violence. Consideration is given to how a lack of understanding of what constitutes domestic violence and a lack of knowledge and means to report a breach of an ADVO, can ultimately impede a victim’s access to the legal system, subsequent reporting of violence to the police and the effectiveness of the ADVO. Using semi-structured interviews, the perceptions of 33 Aboriginal women regarding domestic violence and their understanding of ADVOs were gathered. The participants all resided in NSW, were of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent and had experienced domestic violence that had ultimately led them to obtain an ADVO. The interviews provide data on Aboriginal women’s experience of domestic violence and the legal system. These interviews point to a number of barriers that Aboriginal women face when attempting to report violence when there is a current ADVO. It is argued that an ADVO does not work effectively for Aboriginal victims of violence if the orders do not come with culturally appropriate mechanisms for better police responses, education as to how the order operates, advice on enforcing it and ongoing community support that is culturally specific. The results of this study affirm that Aboriginal women who are victims of domestic violence in NSW need to be better informed, supported and protected. A multifaceted, multidisciplinary approach to domestic violence in Aboriginal communities is imperative. Recommendations for how this may be achieved are discussed, which is a small step along the path of providing Indigenous women with both equality and justice.
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Author(s)
Russon, Belinda
Supervisor(s)
Cunneen, Chris
Steel, Alex
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Publication Year
2014
Resource Type
Thesis
Degree Type
PhD Doctorate
UNSW Faculty
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