find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Property lawyer - Melbourne
Category: Property Law | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Impressive client list, national firm · Well-led and high-performing team
View details
Senior family lawyer - Melbourne
Category: Family Law | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Outstanding national firm · High-calibre family law team
View details
Law is a 'blunt tool' in domestic violence cases

Law is a 'blunt tool' in domestic violence cases

jail

The criminal justice system is ineffective at dealing with the root causes of domestic violence, one barrister has claimed.

Speaking to Lawyers Weekly ahead of the March 2016 Salvos Legal Lecture Series, Michelle Swift, a barrister at Forbes Chambers, said punishing the perpetrators of domestic violence is not always the best way to support victims.

“[Domestic violence] is criminal activity but there are a lot of criminal activities where harm minimisation is a better approach than just punishing someone,” she said.

Often victims of domestic violence are less likely to involve the police when they know their partner is likely to receive a jail sentence, she explained.

Losing a partner can be a blow financially and emotionally to victims of violence, she said.

“What the legal system doesn't take into account is this idea of love – that these people still love each other.

“Lots of people call the police because they want [the offender] gone at that time because they are drinking or violent. It doesn't mean they don't want them back; they just want the behaviour to stop.”

Imposing harsh punishments on perpetrators “seems to be a state-based idea” that does not correlate with the lived experience of many victims, she added.

The standard responses to incidents of domestic violence by police and the courts are also not sensitive to the dilemmas victims face, according to Ms Swift.

For instance, some victims are compelled to give statements to police, take out AVOs and appear in court when these actions are damaging to their welfare and the relationships they wish to preserve.

“The law is essentially a blunt tool,” said Ms Swift.

A better solution in many instances could be the creation of a domestic violence court, she said. This would mirror the attitude of the drug courts by promoting good behaviour and preventing people from re-offending.

These courts would try to get to the root of the problem by offering financial counselling for the victims and anger or violence management for the perpetrator.

“Perhaps applying some of those different policies in a domestic violence situation would make a difference but it requires a big commitment to structure and support,” said Ms Swift.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Law is a 'blunt tool' in domestic violence cases
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Warning
Aug 23 2017
NT Law Society sounds alarm on mandatory sentencing
The Law Society Northern Territory has issued a warning over mandatory sentencing, saying it hasn’...
Unite
Aug 22 2017
Professionals unite in support of marriage equality
The presidents of representative bodies for solicitors, barristers and doctors in NSW have come toge...
Aug 21 2017
Is your firm on the right track for gig economy gains?
Promoted by Crowd & Co. The way we do business, where we work, how we engage with workers, ev...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...