Lily Trimboli
NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research
The Applied Research in Crime and Justice Conference
18 – 19 February 2015
• Domestic violence is a significant problem
with social, economic, health and financial
• It encompasses physical violence, emotional
abuse, verbal abuse, intimidation, and
economic and social deprivation.
Domestic violence in Australia
International Violence Against Women Survey
(December 2002 – June 2003)
Of surveyed Australian women aged ≥ 18 years:
• 10% reported experiencing at least one
incident of physical and/or sexual violence in
the previous 12 months; and
• 57% reported experiencing at least one
incident of physical and/or sexual violence
over their lifetime.
However, risk and severity of violence differed
according to the status of the relationship.
• About 1 in 10 women in a current intimate
relationship reported ever experiencing violence
from their current male partner.
• 36% of women who have had a past relationship
reported experiencing physical or sexual violence
from a former partner (both within the relationship and after).
• 42% of women who experienced violence from a
former intimate partner sustained injuries (bruises,
swelling) in the most recent incident, whereas 35%
of women who experienced violence from a
current intimate partner sustained injuries.
Crime Victimisation Survey
(ABS, July 2012 – July 2013)
When asked about their most recent
incident of physical violence, female victims
aged ≥ 15 years reported that:
• the offender was male (77.3%) and
known to her (75.6%);
• in 47.8% of cases, her own home was
the location of the incident;
• 48.4% of incidents were not reported to
the police.
• In NSW, a primary response to domestic violence is
the Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO).
• The Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act
2007 (NSW) empowers local courts to make ADVOs
to protect individuals from future harmful or
threatening behaviour by defendants.
• Proscribed behaviours include assaults, harassment,
threats, stalking and intimidation.
‘Domestic relationship’
The legislation recognises a range of relationships as ‘domestic’:
• a spouse of the person seeking protection;
• a de facto partner;
• in an intimate relationship with the protected person;
• living in the same household as the protected person;
• a long-term resident in the same residential facility;
• dependent on the paid or unpaid care of the protected person;
• part of the protected person’s Indigenous kinship system or
extended family; and/or
• a relative (including step- and in-law relationships).
Each of these relationships could be current or former.
1. To determine whether the provision of legal
advice by a duty solicitor to ADVO defendants
reduces the likelihood of breaches.
2. To determine the level of satisfaction amongst
defendants and key stakeholders with the
operation and implementation of the defendant
solicitor pilot program at Burwood Local Court.
Legal service for defendants
in ADVO proceedings
• Legal Aid NSW employed two female private solicitors
to advise and represent unrepresented ADVO
defendants on AVO list day at Burwood Local Court.
• Defendants with both stand-alone ADVOs and related
charges were eligible. Solicitors ran simple guilty pleas.
• Solicitors advocated to achieve workable orders that
both protected the applicant and could be reasonably
complied with by the defendant.
• Service lasted for 15 weeks
(26 July – 8 November 2013).
Impact of program on breaches
Objective: to determine if providing legal advice to defendants
in ADVO proceedings reduces the frequency of breaches.
Structured interviews with two groups of protected persons:
1. Non-intervention phase (baseline measure): n = 82
2. Intervention phase: n = 65
Both groups were interviewed about their experiences of
proscribed behaviours during two time periods:
 the month prior to applying for the ADVO; and
 the month after the ADVO was served on the defendant.
Pre-post ADVO changes in proscribed behaviours in the
two groups of protected persons were compared.
Both groups of protected persons were asked
the same core questions about proscribed
behaviours in each of the two interviews
(pre-ADVO application and post-ADVO service).
• proscribed behaviours:
 stalking;
 verbal abuse;
 approaches to family, friends, colleagues;
 intimidation;
 physical assault; and
 threats of physical assault.
Defendant satisfaction
with pilot program
• Structured interview schedule, closed and open questions.
• Key questions:
 difficulty of understanding the ADVO conditions imposed
by magistrate (5-point Likert scale);
 whether defendant believed he/she could abide by
conditions; and
 information provided by solicitor about the
consequences of breaching the conditions (open-ended).
• 29 telephone interviews conducted by male interviewer
during the last 5 weeks of the pilot program.
Stakeholder satisfaction
with pilot program
• Semi-structured telephone interviews conducted
with 20 stakeholders after pilot program ended.
• Categories of stakeholders invited for interview:
magistrates, registrars, police prosecutors,
Domestic Violence Liaison Officers (police),
defendant duty solicitors, Legal Aid NSW solicitors,
Legal Aid NSW staff and WDVCAS staff.
Each stakeholder was asked five core questions:
1. Do you think there is a need for this legal service for
ADVO defendants?
2. What aspects of the pilot program worked well?
What were the positive features of the program?
3. What aspects of the pilot program did not work well?
What were the negative features of the program?
4. What improvements could be made in the operation
of the program?
5. Overall, what is your opinion of the program?
Impact of program on breaches
Non-intervention phase (N = 82)
Type of proscribed
Pre-AVO application
Post-AVO served
Intervention phase (N = 65)
Pre-AVO application
Post-AVO served
Physical assault
Threats of physical assault
Verbal abuse
Contact others
• Compared to the four weeks before
applying for their ADVO, during the four
weeks after the ADVO was served, there
was a reduction in the proportion of
protected persons who reported
experiencing each type of behaviour
proscribed by the legislation.
• These pre-post ADVO reductions were
statistically significant for both groups of
protected persons.
• BUT there were no significant differences
between the two groups of protected persons.
 During the first four weeks that the ADVO was
active, it was equally effective for most of the
protected persons interviewed, regardless of
whether they were interviewed before the legal
service was implemented or during its
implementation, and regardless of whether the
associated defendant had received legal advice.
• This suggests that providing free legal advice to
ADVO defendants did not result in fewer breaches
of the proscribed behaviours.
Defendant satisfaction
with pilot program
Of 29 defendants interviewed:
• 90% were male;
• average age of 38 years;
• 31% were interviewed with a qualified
interpreter; and
• 52% were at court for both the ADVO and
associated charges (e.g. common assault, stalking).
• 97% reported that the solicitor explained the ADVO
• 57% stated that it was ‘easy’ or ‘very easy’ to
understand the ADVO conditions imposed by the
magistrate, but 21% stated that it was ‘hard’ or ‘very
hard’ to understand the conditions.
• 97% felt that the solicitor had treated them respectfully
or very respectfully.
• 86% were satisfied or very satisfied with the manner in
which the solicitor dealt with their matter in the
• 86% stated that they would recommend the legal
service to other people in a situation similar to their own.
What did the solicitor say would happen if you
breach or break any of the ADVO conditions?
Most defendants reported that the solicitors had
explained the serious ramifications of breaching the
• 59% stated that the solicitor had explained that they
would spend two years in gaol and be fined $5,500;
• 24% reported that the solicitor told them they would
be arrested/prosecuted; and
• 3.5% stated that the solicitor had informed them
that a breach would result in gaol time.
Stakeholder satisfaction
with pilot program
Do you think there is a need for this legal
service for ADVO defendants?
• 18 of the 20 stakeholders interviewed said
there was a clear need for free legal advice
and representation at the first mention.
• Some believed this type of legal service is
particularly necessary in areas with a high
proportion of people of non-English speaking
backgrounds who may not understand the
language and/or the Australian legal system.
What aspects of the pilot program worked well?
What were the positive features of the program?
• Defendants who would otherwise have been
unrepresented received legal advice regarding their
specific circumstances and were represented in court.
So, negotiated and practicable ADVOs were
developed reflecting the unique needs of both the
protected persons and the defendants.
• Defendants left the courthouse understanding the
ADVO conditions, the implications of each condition
and the ramifications of breaching any condition.
• Solicitors could identify issues affecting defendants’
offending behaviour early on and make referrals to
services (e.g. housing, mental health, relationships, drug/alcohol, immigration).
• Program had positive consequences for the court,
other stakeholders and protected persons:
 the experience and skill set of the two defendant
solicitors meant magistrates received clear and
concise advice, so the court process ran smoothly;
 matters were finalised more quickly due to the
prior negotiation and resolution of issues, saving
time and ultimately cost;
 relevant stakeholders were prompted to devise
new streamlined processes (e.g. the DVLOs designed an
instruction sheet for defendants, this formed the basis for
negotiations between the various parties);
 program eased the workload of other stakeholders;
 providing legal advice enabled defendants to make
informed decisions at the first mention. This:
reduced, or even eliminated, the need for
meant that neither defendants nor the associated
protected persons had to return to court on
numerous occasions. This, in turn, made the
courthouse less crowded; and the court process
less stressful, less inconvenient and more
efficient for all parties, including the court.
What aspects of the pilot program did not work well?
What were the negative features of the program?
• Some stakeholders reported no negative features.
• Among those who noted negative features, the
emphasis was on processes which, at times, did not
operate smoothly, for example:
 due to the high volume of matters on AVO list day,
there were delays for key participants, including
the protected persons and DVLOs, who had to
wait for the solicitors to mention their matters after
consulting with the relevant defendants;
 at times, interpreters in the relevant languages had
not been appointed, resulting in adjournments.
What improvements could be made in
the operation of the program?
Stakeholders suggested administrative
improvements to increase efficiency on AVO list day:
• prior to list day, book relevant interpreters;
• stagger the court list;
• encourage protected persons to attend court on
list day to allow negotiations and written
agreements between the solicitors, particularly
regarding contact arrangements.
Overall opinion of legal service
• All stakeholders believed that the legal
service was valuable and effective.
• The absence of the legal service at the end of
the pilot period was lamented by several
stakeholders who perceived that more
matters were adjourned because defendants
had to seek legal advice or apply for legal aid.
• Providing legal advice and representation to
ADVO defendants does not result in fewer
breaches of ADVOs during the first four weeks
after the orders are served on defendants.
• Defendants accessing the new legal service
report high levels of satisfaction with it.
• Stakeholders associated with the provision of
the service are strongly supportive of it, reporting
that it has a beneficial effect on court processes.

Legal service for defendants in Apprehended Domestic