Incidents v Context: How Does the NSW Protection Order System Understand Intimate Partner Violence?

Lawbook Co.
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Sydney Law Review, 2012, 34 (4), pp. 695 - 719
Issue Date:
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Civil protection order schemes were introduced in many western countries from the 1970s; in Australia from the 1980s. One of the key drivers for this development was the extensive feminist criticism of the criminal law which revealed that it failed to respond adequately to the particular harm of intimate partner violence (âIPVâ). The nature of IPV as a gendered, repetitive and patterned harm, motivated by control, found a poor fit with the criminal lawâs focus on discrete incidents and its traditional emphasis on visible forms of violence. This article explores whether the New South Wales (NSW) civil protection order system (Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders or âADVOsâ), despite a range of progressive elements, continues to mirror the criminal lawâs narrow understanding of IPV. It does so through a case study on cross-applications in NSW ADVO proceedings. This study reveals that the progressive promise of the ADVO system to look beyond the lens of the criminal law is militated by a range of factors such as: the limited nature of the complaint narrative; the continuing focus in practice on incidents of violence; and the constraints of the court environment.
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