Rights to Protection and the State: Applying a Human Rights Framework to Protect Women Victims of Domestic Violence in the Criminal Justice System

Stream: Panel 27 - Gender Politics: Gender Based Violence 2 - Domestic and Family Violence 
Date: Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Time: 11.30 am – 1.00 pm


Over the past six years domestic violence has finally captured the attention of mainstream politics in Australia. Under the Gillard government policies about the status for Australian women were reinstated as a substantial item on the policy agenda, recovering policy infrastructure that had been decimated during the Howard years. A key legacy of the Gillard government is the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010 – 2022, which even after the change of government and continues to drive the Australian government response to this issue. One of the ‘National Outcomes’ in the plan is to ensure that justice responses are effective. The Plan states that “civil and/or criminal justice systems need to protect women and their children who have been victims of domestic violence. Systems need to be accessible and responsive to their ongoing safety”. This paper will explore the need to apply a human rights framework to ensure effective justice responses for women victims of domestic violence. In order to interrogate how this might work, the focus of the paper is on the processes involved in applications for criminal injuries compensation involving women victims of domestic violence where there are procedures that require the state to give notice to the offender in the application. As a consequence, the victim is forced to re-engage with the offender, and this may escalate additional violence towards the victim. Decisions rely on a balance between the state’s need to seek funds from the offender or to protect the victim.


Ruth Phillips (Presenter), The University of Sydney
Ruth Phillips is Associate Dean for Postgraduate Research in the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney. She teaches in the Social Work and Policy Studies Program and does research on social policy, feminism and the third sector.

Robert Guthrie (Presenter), Criminal Injuries Compensation at Department of Attorney General, WA
Prof. Robert Guthrie is currently an Magistrate at the Criminal Injuries Compensation office at the Department of Attorney General WA. He is also a past Professor of Workers Compensation and Workplace Laws at Curtin University of Technology. He is interested in work involving research into work related, trauma related disability and justice for victims of crime.