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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 23 June 2021) . . Page.. 1915 ..

While data on homicides in Australia is collected by the Australian Institute of Criminology and is reported on every two years, this data does not examine the context of domestic violence and therefore cannot present trends and patterns specific to domestic violence homicides.

Domestic and family violence death reviews have been established in all Australian jurisdictions except Tasmania and the ACT to enable this review of the context of domestic violence in related homicides. Put simply, the purpose of the Domestic and Family Violence Death Review is to review deaths that result from domestic and family violence so as to identify factors leading to these deaths, and make recommendations to improve system responses and respond to service gaps.

To do this, death reviews take a system-wide perspective and make recommendations that relate to policy, procedure, legislation, system and services, data collection and management, and public awareness.

Death reviews examine the context in which the deaths occur; the escalation of violence and threats prior to the death; and the response, or lack of response, by a range of systems and agencies. The advantage and value of domestic violence death reviews is that they move beyond an emphasis on the cause of death, determination of facts or assignment of blame. Instead, a death review looks at the contributory processes and patterns that led up to the homicide. They also look at these deaths not as isolated events but as a connected group of homicides that unfold in the specific context of domestic violence.

In doing so, and by including personal knowledge of the people and agencies involved, and specific expertise about domestic and family violence, they are in a unique position to identify patterns and trends, as well as flaws and gaps in the responses provided to victims.

A review into the findings of domestic and family violence death reviews in Australia found that they made recommendations to improve legislation, service responses and operating procedures, interagency collaboration, public education, and professional development. This review also found that the recommendations were directed to both government and non-government agencies, including police, corrective services and justice departments, social housing providers, child protection services, education and health services, government ministers and policy units, and non-government domestic violence service providers.

One of the strengths of domestic and family violence death reviews is that in making these kinds of recommendations, they do not place blame on the agencies for domestic fatalities. Instead, death reviews view risk and error as inevitable aspects of coordinated delivery of complex services in complex circumstances, and perpetrators are ultimately held responsible for the death of their victims.

This bill provides the legislative establishment of a death review coordinator and gives the coordinator the powers to request information for the purposes of undertaking reviews into domestic and family violence deaths. This bill contains penalties for failure to provide information requested by the death review coordinator

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