In regard to the effectiveness of dealing with legal and non-legal responses in dealing with domestic violence, there is a varying degree of success in achieving justice for the victims and their families. As stated in the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007, domestic violence is described as “violence committed against someone with whom the offender has, or has had a domestic relationship” Domestic violence is a serious issue within Australian society and has been for a number of years. Although progress has been made for legal responses, it still does not meet societal expectations when it comes to achieving justice. There is a copious amount of ineffectiveness in regard to not meeting society’s needs and protecting the victims of domestic violence. This remains to be one of the greatest challenges the Australian legal system faces. Due to this, there have been numerous non-legal organisations created to try even out the ineffectiveness.
The legal responsibility of issuing an Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVO), under the Crimes (Domestic Violence) Amendment Act 1983 (NSW) is relatively effective in protecting individuals’ rights. ADVO aim to prohibit a person from stalking, harassing or abusing. According to the article “Violence against women reduced through apprehended violence orders, survey shows” by The Sydney Morning Herald, ’98 per cent of women who experienced physical violence, no longer did after taking out an ADVO’, which was found by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research. ADVOs are effective in how they protect a majority of women from further violence. However, ADVO’s can stop intent. Rachael Young was shot in the head by her partner, Stephen Downey, in front of her six-year-old daughter in 2006. Downey had been sentenced to nine months in jail for breaching his apprehended violence order but was released on a good behavior bond. He killed himself after he killed Rachael. It can be said ADVO’s, court proceedings and government assistance has proved to be largely ineffective when dealing with domestic violence. This is because large amounts of legislation are outdated and therefore not responsive to societies current needs. In such cases, ADVOs are extremely inefficient as a piece of paper will not stop an abuser from beating, threatening or harming their partner and/or kids. Whilst ADVO’s are a somewhat effective legal measure in preventing violence against women/men, its conditions can be easily breached, making the response fairly ineffective in achieving justice. This is evident as seen from March 2008 to March 2011, where more than 100,000 orders were made and 9,000 of those were breached. However, there are still many breaches that are left unreported due to fear, previous poor responses from the police and victims believing they can deal with the situation on their own. This further shows the ineffectiveness of ADVOs as they are believed to give women a sense of protection and security, but even with them, women are still extremely afraid. ADVO’s attempt to achieve justice through being very easily accessible. They require no costs and very minimal time to write up. However, they are not very efficient as the cases of domestic violence victims show their ineffectiveness when it comes to trying to enforce them. If an ADVO is breached, the offender may only spend 2 years and be faced with a $5,500 fine, which is not a strong enough punishment for most offenders. Because of this, societies needs are not fully met and protected.
There are copious amounts of legislation to try to protect women/men from any sort of domestic violence. This legislation includes Crimes Act 1900 (NSW), Crimes (Sexual Assault) Amendment Act 1981 (NSW), Crimes (Personal and Family Violence) Amendment Act 1987 (NSW), Crimes (Domestic Violence) Amendment Act 1993 (NSW), Family Law Reform Act 1995 (Cwlth). In regard to domestic violence, legislations are put in place to legally protect women/men. These legislations ensure that the perpetrator receives a fair punishment for their wrongdoing. This punishment ensures the safety of the victim as well as society. The enforcement of legislation ensures the safety of women/men. It also shows the government recognises the effect of domestic violence on women/men and any child that has been exposed to it. The role of the courts is to achieve guarantee fair and just endings. Although the issue with the current legislation in regard to domestic violence is that it’s clearly not doing enough as many victims are still dying and still too scared to confront their partners and seek help from authorities. The media articles “Family of domestic violence victim Rekiah O’Donnell say more must be done to protect women from abuse” and “Ice addict Nelson Lai guilty over girlfriend’s shooting death” emphasise the ineffectiveness of certain legislations. Rekiah O’Donnell’s family were devastated and shattered when the Supreme Court jury cleared her partner of murdering her. They convicted him of the lesser crime of manslaughter. These legislations are shown to be ineffectual in protecting the rights of the victim, their family and society. He now poses a threat to them all. With evidence of admitting to regularly bashing Ms O’Donnell and threatening to kill her, a harsher penalty should have been applied. This would include imprisonment for a minimum of 15 years.
Due to the majority of legal responses being ineffective when dealing with domestic violence, there has been a large number of non-legal responses created to even out the ineffectiveness. These include foundations, websites, counselling services and shelters. NGO’s such as Hotlines such as “Domestic Violence Line”, Domestic Violence Prevention Centre and White Ribbon Campaign aims to protect victims and make them feel safe and like they have someone/somewhere to go to receive help. However, they still face issues such as women may be too afraid to speak out, especially online. This applies specifically to women who are financially, physically, and socially abused and there are too many small NGOs and not enough that are well-known. This stops women from knowing exactly who to go to. In order to fix this, small NGOs should get together and create one big one that is easily accessible to almost everyone (men or women) and have specially trained workers to help people in these situations. The article “Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service deals with the heartbreak of women on the run” shows the effectiveness of NGOs as they advise women on shelters to go to when they are trying to escape violent relationships. They also provide supplies for them, ranging from phones to nappies for babies. They help deal with the situation effectively to ensure a just outcome that protects the victims’ rights. NGO’s are extremely helpful for victims, but there should be more advertising to make them more well-known to ensure accessibility for many victims in danger or fear of harm. Although now numerous ads are displayed on TV or billboards to advertise helplines. NSW Domestic Violence Line ‘We will listen to you, believe you, and help you is displayed in shopping centers around the NSW region. Another specific ad is ‘Stop it at the start. This campaign is aimed at men and the social attitude of ‘boys will be boys. It shows videos of males saying something degrading or domestic violence-related, to which the female will respond with something that makes the male rethink his comment and the extent a single comment can have on someone. This has helped male family members understand what is and is not appropriate to say and how to see early signs that someone might become an abuser or victim.
The media plays a major role in raising awareness of domestic violence. It shapes the public’s opinions, which is why it is important that they broadcast informative advertisements and reports on domestic violence. However, although the media may do this, it only does so to a small extent. The media should be doing more to raise awareness and show the seriousness of domestic violence. The media is widely accessible to many within Australia which are why it is a good platform to advertise the extent of domestic violence. If it were more publicly shown, perpetrators may rethink their choices if they knew the serious consequences, they could face. The media attempts to recognise the rights of women, particularly those in domestic violence relationships but does nothing to help protect them. It does not portray equality as it is a very bias form of broadcasting domestic violence. They also have no way of enforcing any laws or rights in domestic violence cases, resulting in a very insignificant amount of justice being served for victims of domestic violence as well as meeting the needs of society and the victims. The media is not very efficient and effective in protecting the rights of women in domestic violence relationships, nor raising awareness of this growing issue.
Overall, legal responses are mostly ineffective in dealing with domestic violence as legislation is not up to date and ADVO’s are very hard to enforce. Legal responses do not meet the needs of the victims or societies needs but there is always room to grow to hopefully achieve justice for all victims and their families in the future. Whereas, non-legal responses are able to help victims feel safe and can receive more active help from NGO’s. The legal system has been proven to lag when it comes to achieving justice for victims and protecting each individual’s rights.