Reducing Domestic Violence Reoffending

Critical Issues


This challenge seeks ideas that address the following:


  1. How technological innovations can break new ground in the way we respond to domestic violence reoffending and defendant behaviour

  2. How technologies can be used to enhance defendant engagement in court processes

  3. How evidence-based behaviour change tools can be used in concert with technology to reduce violent behaviour

  4. How we can learn more about why defendants offend and reoffend

  5. How cutting edge technology, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, can be used to reduce domestic violence behaviours

  6. How technological innovations can be used to complement existing initiatives that address domestic violence reoffending and defendant behaviour

The Problem


Domestic violence is complex and its effects can be traumatic. It can affect anyone in the community.


Domestic violence stems from culturally embedded understandings of gender, and unequal power relationships between men and women.


Domestic and family violence includes any behaviour, in an intimate or family relationship, which is violent, threatening, coercive or controlling, causing a person to live in fear. It is usually manifested as part of a pattern of controlling or coercive behaviour.


Domestic and family violence can include physical and sexual violence. It can also include verbal, emotional, social, psychological, and financial abuse, and other behaviours that limit a person’s freedom to think and act.




One in six Australian women have, since the age of 15, experienced physical or sexual violence with an intimate partner[1]. They are three times more likely to experience violence from an intimate partner than men[2]. Approximately one Australian woman is killed every week, on average, by domestic violence[3].




In 81 per cent of domestic assaults the perpetrators are men. More than one-third of domestic violence perpetrators are repeat offenders[4].



In 2015, Aboriginal women in NSW were 4.1 times more likely than non-Aboriginal women to have experienced DV-related assaults[5].




In NSW in 2015, there were 38,853 persons protected by Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs), 71% of whom were women[6].


The cost of violence against women and their children in Australia was estimated to be $22 billion in 2015-16[7].



The complexity of domestic violence requires well thought out, sensitive responses. The NSW Government, through DFSI and the Department of Premier and Cabinet’s Behavioural Insights Unit, is seeking innovative and potentially ground breaking responses from businesses, innovators and entrepreneurs that address this problem.


Through this challenge, we want to harness the latest technologies to create a digital platform that will change domestic violence defendant behaviour and reduce domestic violence reoffending. Research[8] show us the majority of ADVOs are effective in preventing further violence or abuse, but where a breach does occur it most often happens before the court case is finalised. This means that there is need to engage earlier with defendants to change their thinking and behaviour.
Guiding principles

Protecting victims’ safety

All domestic violence interventions must, at their core, respect and contribute towards the safety of domestic violence victims.


Acknowledging the complexity and trauma of domestic violence

Responses to domestic violence cannot be trivial. They must recognise the problem’s multifaceted causes and the range of impacts it can have on all members of the community.


People’s privacy will be respected

We do not want to monitor or track individuals through this digital platform.


Building upon evidence-based behaviour change tools

A number of behaviour change techniques may be effective in reducing domestic violence reoffending. For example, using digital media to prime defendants to reflect upon their behaviour or using digital planning tools to assist them to make a plan to adhere to their ADVO. We want to build upon growing evidence to support the effectiveness of behaviour change digital platforms[9].


Complimentary approaches

A digital platform could complement other domestic violence initiatives. For example, we recently made some changes to ADVOs so that they are easier to understand to improve defendants’ compliance and engagement with the court process. We worked with a wide range of stakeholders to create the Plain English ADVO and to introduce behavioural features. Key changes include:


  • Simplified language and plain English examples: terms that can cause confusion (such as ‘molest’ and ‘reside’) and complicated orders related to family law have been simplified. Explanatory text and examples have been added to help defendants better understand their obligations under the ADVO. 

  • Prioritising and personalising key messages: the consequences of breaching the orders are now brought to the attention of the reader at the very start of the ADVO.  The use of the third person and indirect language has also been removed so that the document is now personalised to encourage greater accountability among defendants.

  • Including behaviour change messages: the ADVO now includes behavioural messages on the last page, such as highlighting the impact of violence on children, challenging the normalisation of domestic violence, as well as signposting to behaviour change services



[1] Australian Bureau of Statistics (2013) Personal Safety, Australia, 2012, Cat. No. 4906.0

[2] Australian Bureau of Statistics (2013) Personal Safety, Australia, 2012, Cat. No. 4906.0

[3]Australian Institute of Criminology (2015), Homicide in Australia: 2010–11 to 2011–12: National Homicide Monitoring Program report

[4]NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (2016), NSW Recorded Crime Statistics, 2006 to 2015. Unpublished data (ref: nm16-14351), obtained September 2016.

[5] NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (2016), NSW Recorded Crime Statistics, 2006 to 2015. Unpublished data (ref: kr16-14194), obtained August 2016.

[6] NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (2016), NSW Recorded Crime Statistics, 2006 to 2015, unpublished (ref: kr16 – 14194), please note that this is not a count of unique individuals. Where an individual was protected by multiple ADVOs throughout the year, they are counted as a person protected by an ADVO multiple times.

[7]KPMG (2016) The Cost of Violence against Women and their Children in Australia, final report prepared for the Department of Social Services

[8]NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research “Breach rate of Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders in NSW” Suzanne Poynton, Efty Stavrou, Neil Marott and Jackie Fitzgerald, September 2016

[9] “Can Mobile Phones Apps Influence People’s Health Behaviour Change? An evidence Review” Jing Zhao, Sydney University School of Public Health, 2016