An independent evaluation of a Queensland trial of integrated responses to domestic violence has found the Palaszczk Government’s new High Risk Teams are intervening more quickly to keep victims of domestic and family violence safer.
Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Di Farmer said the teams, made up of police, health, corrections and housing staff along with specialist DV services work together to rapidly identify victims at high risk of violence who need urgent intervention.
“These teams were set up to rapidly assess whether women and their children experiencing domestic and family violence were at high risk of serious harm or death, to identify and engage with perpetrators, and when needed to intervene urgently to get victims out of danger fast,” she said.
“Each agency in a team has some information about the situation – they’ll have one or two pieces of the puzzle.
“It’s when you put together a few pieces, you might then see a picture emerging that shows that this person is at high risk of imminent violence.
“When Rosie Batty tragically lost her son to family violence in 2014, the coroner found that multiple agencies had information about the perpetrator, and Rosie herself had reached out for help many times.
“But the different agencies weren’t sharing information with each other or with Rosie – if they’d had more information, it would have been clearer that Luke’s father was potentially very dangerous.”
Ms Farmer said the evaluation, carried out by Griffith Criminology Institute, showed some promising early outcomes, with agencies working together more effectively so victims got better and faster support.
“It’s very early days for High Risk Teams, which is why this initial evaluation report is so important to inform how we develop the services as we go on,” she said.
“Putting these teams together has resulted in better information sharing between agencies, which in turn has resulted in more informed decision making about when and how quickly to intervene.
“When I met with one of the HRTs in Mount Isa, one of the team members said she felt the most effective she’d ever been in keeping women and children safe.
“The report also shows the teams have improved their accountability around service delivery across agencies, and agencies are keeping better tabs on perpetrators to help keep victims safe.”
The evaluation report includes comments from members of High Risk Teams throughout the state (de-identified for safety and privacy reasons):
- “You start to scratch below the surface a bit more and you can see what you can each offer each other, or in terms of wrapping around your client’s needs.”
- “We’re now getting traction with police, the same with the hospital as well, so from our perspective with our organisation they are starting to respond in a much quicker way.”
- “Perpetrators are no longer getting away ‘scot free’.”
- “Being an expert on him keeps her safe.”
Ms Farmer said the evaluation also pointed to concrete ways to strengthen service delivery, including further improving information sharing, clarifying team roles, and focusing more on engaging with perpetrators to support them to change their behaviour.
“Next month, the agencies involved in the eight teams will meet to discuss the evaluation findings, and how we can begin to implement those recommendations to further strengthen our High Risk Teams,” she said.
“I want to thank the agencies and staff involved in these teams – their support and commitment to making these teams work is outstanding.”
The evaluation, which was in accordance with recommendation 75 of the Not Now, Not Ever report, covered the Integrated Service Response trial and associated High Risk Teams in Logan-Beenleigh, Cherbourg and Mount Isa-Gulf. Five additional teams operate in Brisbane, Cairns, Ipswich, Mackay and Caboolture.
A summary report of the Integrated Service Response and High Risk Team Evaluation is available online at www.csyw.qld.gov.au/integrated-service-responses
Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Di Farmer