The Domestic Violence Protection Order System as Entry to the Criminal Justice System for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People
The domestic violence protection order (DVO) system is a hybrid system of criminalisation in which the DVO itself is a civil order, but any contravention of that order may result in a criminal charge. Limited attention has been paid to the potential consequences of criminalisation through the hybrid DVO system in the Australian context. We use Queensland as a case study and examine administrative data gathered through Queensland Courts. We show that a disproportionate number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) people are named on DVOs, charged with contraventions of DVOs and significantly more likely than non-Indigenous people to receive a sentence of imprisonment for a contravention of a DVO, compared to non-Indigenous people. We find that ATSI women are particularly overrepresented in this system. We review explanations for these startling figures and emphasize the need for a change in approach.
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