Australian Institute of Criminology

Skip to content

Domestic violence - the law can help you

Media Release

06 April 2000

Media release from Senator, the Hon Amanda Vanstone, Minister for Justice and Customs

Women can trust the law to help them if they have been the victims of domestic violence, Senator Vanstone, Minister for Justice and Customs said today.

Senator Vanstone was releasing the latest research paper from the Australian Institute of Criminology on young women and domestic violence.

"Domestic violence is a scourge on society," Senator Vanstone said.

"Nearly a quarter of women who have been married, or lived in a defacto relationship, have experienced violence by their partner."

"The damage caused to women by domestic violence is serious. Nearly half the young women surveyed who had been subjected to domestic violence experienced serious violence such as beatings, being choked, being threatened with a gun, or being shot at."

"However there are things that women can do to stop domestic violence and this research paper from the AIC shows that the severity of violence is reduced or stopped after legal protection."

"It also appears that contacting both police and obtaining a court order are more effective than only contacting the police."

"Violence ceased for women who had been subjected to the most serious violence more often if they had protection from both the police and the courts (50%) than if they had sought protection from the police alone (19%)."

"Until this study we did not know the outcomes of police intervention, and we did not have any information on the benefits of police intervention compared to court orders."

"The bottom line is that violence does not have to continue and that legal avenues can provide effective protection."

"The Commonwealth is committed to ensuring that all women have equal access to protections against domestic violence. The Model Criminal Code provides a basis for States and Territories, which have responsibility for laws in this area, to have uniform offences and protections for women. Portability of apprehended violence orders across State/territory boundaries is one example of this."

The Australian Institute of Criminology's paper The Effectiveness of Legal Protection in the Prevention of Domestic Violence in the Lives of Young Australian Women examines the comparative outcomes for women who did, and did not seek legal protection through police and court orders. The study also found that:

  • Almost three-quarters of the young women who have been subjected to domestic violence sustained injuries.
  • Some women suffer repeated serious injuries, with 35 per cent of the women who had been burned being burned more than once, and 40 per cent of the women who had bones broken having repeated breaks.
  • The study also found that some who experienced the more severe levels of violence and who were injured were more likely to seek legal protection than those who were not as badly abused.
  • Women are more likely to seek protection if they know their partner has been in trouble with the police or had been violent in other situations.
  • The study found that legal protection from serious violence rarely made things worse for these young women.