‘All these people with lived experience are not being heard’: What family violence survivors want policy makers to know

Survivors of violence, and those working to support survivors, want to see programs that focus on getting the first response right, every time, writes Prof Sarah Moulds.

Her recent study ‘Powerful Interventions’, co-authored with Suryawan Rian Yohanesh from Uniting Communities (an NGO focused on overcoming disadvantage) involved interviews with survivors of domestic and family violence about what changes they’d like to see.

Interviewees told researchers they want changes giving them control over legal processes like intervention orders (sometimes called Apprehended Violence Orders or AVOs), which are legal orders designed to stop perpetrators of violence or abuse from being near or interacting with their partners or children.

Survivors said they want greater focus on perpetrator accountability by exposing the true impact of the violence on the lives of others, not just the aspects of the behaviour leading to criminal offences or breaches of the law. This means engaging professionals to help the survivor confront the perpetrator with the broader health, financial and social impacts of their behaviour.

Those with lived experience of domestic and family violence want perpetrators to be held to account – not just in the courtroom, but in their workplaces and their social networks. They want to be put at the centre of the system, and be recognised as the powerful agents for change they are.