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Study calls for reviews of family-violence deaths

31 May 2023 / justice Print

Study urges legislation on family-violence deaths

The Department of Justice is to set up an inter-departmental group to consider how recommendations made by a report on deaths resulting from domestic or family violence can be implemented.

The move follows the publication of the Study on Familicide and Domestic and Family Violence Death Reviews, an independent report commissioned by the department.

The report consulted a range of interested parties — including family members of victims, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and State agencies.

Among its recommendations is the establishment of a national database to report on such deaths, as well as on domestic violence and abuse.

Support for families

Several recommendations focus on providing support for family members — including the establishment of the establishment of Regional Multi-Agency Critical Planning and Response (MACPAR) teams.

A section on the role of media includes a call for an embargo on the release of the name of a murdered victim prior to family notification. The report also calls for a review of the balancing of the individual’s right to privacy and the freedom of the press.

The report also makes suggestions for legislation to set up a review structure for domestic-violence and family-violence deaths. These cover the cases that should be eligible for such reviews, and how the reviews should be carried out.

The study also calls for a national risk-assessment framework aimed at identifying potential warning signs and possible responses — including the development of protocols to allow relevant information to be shared by professionals or with family members.

‘Lived experience’

Minister for Justice Simon Harris expressed gratitude to the families involved for taking part in the process.

“We really needed to hear that lived experience to understand where the system is working and, more importantly, where it is not working,” he stated.

The new inter-departmental group will examine how to bring forward any recommendations contained in the study through implementation of Zero Tolerance, the Third National Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence (DSGBV) Strategy.

The department will also consult a small advisory group of NGOs as part of the implementation process.

Minister Harris has also committed to setting up an advisory committee drawn from the families to work with the department on the recommendations.

Zero Tolerance

The department said that action on several recommendations was already underway through the Zero Tolerance strategy.

These include:

  • The CSO will begin work on a National Prevalence Study of domestic and intimate-partner violence next year,
  • A new agency for domestic, sexual and gender-based violence, to be established next January, will assume responsibility for a national refuge strategy,
  • A new DSGBV Agency to improve the collection of data,
  • Improved education on domestic, sexual and gender-based violence,
  • Better training for those most likely to encounter DSGBV victims,
  • Risk-assessment protocols.
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