Published: December 16, 2019

How public policies with positive intentions can falter in their wording, design and implementation is the focus of a new Life Course Centre Working Paper.

Specifically, this paper examines the Queensland Government’s Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) Prevention Strategy 2016-2026. Authored by Life Course Centre PhD student Ella Kuskoff from the Institute of Social Science Research at The University of Queensland, the paper describes the Queensland DFV strategy as one aiming to change cultural attitudes and behaviours and, as such, is an example of new generation policy that understands DFV as a highly gendered and cultural issue. However, the research finds that the strategy not only fails to implement initiatives that are conducive to changing attitudes and behaviours, but several of its initiatives reinforce gender inequalities that facilitate DFV.

The paper shows that current implementation of Queensland’s DFV strategy undermines its guiding principle to change attitudes and behaviours in four distinct ways by:

  • erroneously assuming that changes in community attitudes will lead to changes in behaviours
  • disproportionately targeting bystanders’ responsibility to stop violence, at the expense of addressing perpetrators’ responsibility to stop violence
  • overlooking the importance of researching, implementing, and evaluating programs and systems that support perpetrators to change
  • seeking to exploit the social power afforded to men, thereby reinforcing the gender hierarchy and women’s subordinate position in society.

This paper provides an evidence-based analysis of why these barriers are problematic, and also offers potential reparative actions that may better position the Queensland DFV strategy to achieve its aims. Importantly, these suggested actions align with the current aims and framework of Queensland’s DFV strategy.

The paper also presents broader implications for future DFV policy development in Australian states and territories. It concludes that it is imperative for policymakers, governments and researchers to continuously evaluate DFV policies and implementation, and refine approaches in line with emerging evidence and feedback. This will help to ensure that government resources are used more effectively and efficiently to keep victims safe, hold perpetrators to account, and move towards the long-term prevention of DFV.

You can read the full Working Paper, ‘From Intentions to Implementation: Improving Alignment between Domestic and Family Violence Policy Aims and Actions’, here.