About this Project


This research project concerns women charged with domestic and family violence offences. Women defendants in domestic violence cases are poorly supported (Bond, 2017). There is little information regarding their experiences as defendants and their specific needs and priorities.

Evidence is emerging that women in Australia and overseas are increasingly charged with domestic violence offences. Data in NSW suggests an annual increase of 10% in arrests of women for domestic violence (NSW Legislative Council, 2012: 18) compared to an average yearly increase of 2% for males (Mansour 2014: 7-8). NSW Women’s Legal Services (WLS) notes a sharp increase in women defendants in Apprehended Violence Orders (AVO) proceedings since 2010 with the majority of applications brought by police. According to WLS, many of these women report being the victim of ongoing domestic violence and acting in self-defence, alleging their version of events is often treated inappropriately by police and/or that the other party is using AVO proceedings to threaten or control them (Mansour 2014: 5-6). Similar trends are also seen overseas.

It is noteworthy that research reveals that Indigenous Australian women are overrepresented as victims in family violence (ABS, 2019). Moreover, studies show that up to 90 percent of violence against Indigenous women may not be reported.

This project seeks to fill an important gap by surveying and talking with women about their experiences and identifying key trends in how such cases are investigated, charges laid, evidence used and case outcomes.

The data generated in this Research Project will help us to better understand (from women’s perspectives) how women defendants experience criminal processes in domestic violence cases and identify key trends in how such cases are investigated, charges laid, evidence used and cases finalised.


ABS, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Experiences of Family and Domestic Violence (Feature article) (19 February 2019) 4714.0 – National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Survey, 2014-15 (see Media Release and Introduction)

Bond et al., ‘Evaluation of the Specialist Domestic and Family Violence Court Trial in Southport’ (Final Report, Griffith Criminology Institute, January 2017)

Julia Mansour, ‘Women Defendants to AVOs: What is their experience of the justice system’ (Report, Women’s Legal Services NSW Publication, March 2014)

Natalie Taylor and Judy Putt, ‘Adult sexual violence in Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Australia’ (Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice Report no. 345, Australian Institute of Criminology, September 2007)3

NSW Legislative Council, Domestic Violence Trends and Issues in NSW, Standing Committee on Social Issues Report No. 46 (August 2012)

Matthew Willis, ‘Non-disclosure of violence in Australian Indigenous communities’ (Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice Report no. 405, Australian Institute of Criminology, January 2011) 1

To participate in the On-Line Survey, please click here.

To participate in the Interview, please click here.

Ethics Approval Reference Number: 2019/024