An action-research of a pilot domestic violence community intervention project, stage one - a case study

Criminology Research Council grant ; (33/92-3)

The action research described in the report involved three objectives:

  • To document the process involved in the first stage of the formation of a pilot coordinated criminal justice focussed inter-agency response to domestic violence to the point at which formally adopted written coordinated inter-agency policies and procedures are ready to be implemented;
  • to analyse the above processes to highlight positive strategies and issues or difficulties which arose in the project for the purpose of facilitating the adoption of a similar model in other communities; and
  • to develop methods for ongoing monitoring of the effectiveness of community intervention projects in reducing violence to women.

The interagency project that was the focus of the action research was the Armadale Domestic Violence Intervention Project (ADVIP), in Western Australia.

The research found that a major dilemma concerned the degree to which the Duluth model can be transferred into other communities as a total package. Local conditions and traditions vary so that the model needs to be contextually adapted. To gain broad community support and collective ownership, the sensitivities of the cooperating agencies need to be worked with, without diluting the strong framework of principles and priorities. However, it was argued that the Duluth model is an "idea whose time has come".

To be sustainable over the long term, an intervention project of this type cannot remain solely the province of a committed band of local enthusiasts. Attention was therefore given to ways of building a broader coalition of support for the intervention process within government, within the multiple levels of the cooperating agencies and in the wider community, including the Aboriginal community. Government policy was found to be of crucial significance.

ADVIP has had considerable influence on Western Australian policy in responding to domestic violence. For example, the WA Government has nominated interagency cooperation as its policy for combating domestic violence in that State. A Domestic Violence Prevention Unit has now been established to assist regions of Western Australia to develop effective inter-agency responses.