(Herald Sun, 2 June 2015)
THE closing date for written submissions to the Royal Commission on Family Violence was last Friday and no doubt many submissions have been received. Family violence is front and centre in the public imagination and the commission has the vital task of developing a path for reform.
Among its many recommendations, my hope is that the commission acknowledges family violence as core business in our justice system. Certainly, one of the themes of the report released by the Centre for Innovative Justice and submitted to the commission was that family violence is either the predominant feature or backdrop to a huge proportion of matters before our courts and among male offenders.
Less widely understood, however, is the fact that male violence is a direct contributor to large numbers in female prisons as well.
Like male offenders, a big proportion of women offenders are caught in a cycle of disadvantage: mental illness, acquired brain injury, homelessness or substance abuse ultimately leading to criminal behaviour and recidivism.