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SAP203 Developing Social Policy

Assessment 2: Individual Written Essay Policy (Word Count – 1100)

Select a single policy topic from the list provided

  • Income Security, either
    • Parenting payment
    • Income Management
  • NDIS
  • Homelessness Policy (e.g. WA, NSW etc.)
  • Family Violence Policy(e.g. WA, NSW etc.)

Clearly choose a key policy, using the concepts and literature provided in this unit, and through your own independent research, undertake an analysis of the selected policy. Your analysis will:

  • Provide a brief history of this policy in Australia, key moments of change in either the problem and/or the policy and key social and political drivers of that change.
  • Describe and discuss the ideological influences apparent in the policy as it stands today (use the Fenna reading from assessment 1). Justify your selection.
  • Provide an example of a similar response to this issue in another jurisdiction e.g. UK, USA
  • Evaluate the extent to which this policy contributes to a more “socially just” Australia – this may require a definition of Social Justice found in the key readings.





Family or Domestic violence, a dominant social problem in Australia, has a profound impact on individuals, households, and societies. It concerns physical, sexual, emotional, as well as financial abuse within close partner relationships & families. The Australian government has executed several policies as well as programs to embark on this problem, but their significance varies (Murray et al., 2021). This essay will examine Victoria’s Family Violence policy, tracing its evolution, pivotal moments, societal and political catalysts, and its role in encouraging a more equitable society.

History of Family Violence Policy in Australia:

 Family violence policy has evolved over the years in Australia, with each state and territory having its own policies and legislation. The first significant policy change occurred in the 1970s when the women’s movement highlighted the issue of domestic violence and advocated for its recognition as a social problem (Fiolet et al., 2019). This led to the introduction of the first domestic violence shelters in the early 1980s. In 1984, the first statewide network of family violence services was established in Victoria with the beginning of the Family Violence Protection (FPV ) Act, which provided victims of family violence with legal protection.

The first significant moment of change in family violence policy occurred with the National Plan or agenda  to diminish Violence against Women & their Children (period of  2010-2022). The significant  plan was developed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and aimed to reduce the occurrence and impact of domestic & family violence in Australia  (Chappell & Costello, 2011).The plan set out a framework for action across five key areas: prevention, early intervention, response, supporting Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander women as well as  their children, & addressing the impacts of domestic and family violence. The plan has been implemented in all states and territories, with varying degrees of success.

The second moment of change occurred with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which ran from the period of 2013 to 2017. Although the commission focused primarily on child sexual abuse, it also highlighted the prevalence of family violence and the failure of institutions to respond effectively(Doyle, 2017).

One key social driver of change has been the growing awareness and acknowledgment of family brutality as a stern social matter. This has been driven by the women’s movement, advocacy groups, and media coverage of high-profile cases. Social media has also played a role in raising awareness of family violence and empowering victims to speak out.

Another key political driver of change has been the advocacy and lobbying efforts of NGOs and peak bodies. These organizations have played a crucial role in advocating for policy change and providing support services to victims of family violence.

Also, changes in government policy and legislation have also been key drivers of change. The establishment of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the introduction of the National Redress Scheme reflect a growing recognition of the requirement for a all-inclusive and synchronized response to family violence and institutional abuse.

Ideological influences

The Family Violence policy in Australia is influenced by a range of ideological perspectives, including feminist, human rights, and public health perspectives. The feminist perspective has been particularly influential, highlighting power imbalances between men & women that contribute to violence against women and emphasizing the importance of addressing underlying social and cultural factors to create lasting change. The policy response has been shaped by feminist principles through measures such as providing support for women who experience violence, prosecuting perpetrators, and addressing gender inequality (van Wormer, 2009). The human rights perspective has also played a significant role, emphasizing the right of all individuals to be free from violence and the responsibility of the state to protect those rights. The policy response has been influenced by human rights principles through measures such as providing legal protections for victims, ensuring access to support services, and holding perpetrators accountable (Harvie & Manzi, 2011).

The public health perspective has also informed the policy response, highlighting the need to address social determinants of health such as poverty and social inequality to promote well-being. The policy response has been shaped by public health principles through measures such as promoting community education and awareness campaigns, providing early intervention services, and investing in research to better understand the root causes of violence.

Example of a alike response to this concern in US jurisdiction

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the United States is an example of a similar policy response to family violence. VAWA was first passed in 1994 and has been reauthorized several times since then, most recently in 2019. The policy was created to provide support & resources for sufferers of familial violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking (Gover & Moore, 2020).

Like the Family Violence policy in Australia, VAWA is grounded in a feminist perspective that recognizes the gendered nature of violence against women. The policy intendS to tackle the root grounds of violence against women, such as gender inequality and power imbalances, through a range of measures such as providing funding for crisis centers and shelters, expanding legal protections for victims, and investing in prevention and education programs.

VAWA also incorporates a human rights perspective, emphasizing the right of all individuals to be free from violence and abuse. The policy recognizes the responsibility of the state to protect these rights and provides resources for law enforcement agencies to effectively respond to incidents of violence.

In recent years, there has been criticism of VAWA from some conservative groups who argue that the policy discriminates against men and undermines due process rights. However, advocates for the policy maintain that it is an important tool for addressing the pervasive issue of violence against women in the United States (Gover & Moore, 2020).

Family Violence policy significantly contributes to a better “socially just” Australia

Social justice can be defined as the fair distribution of resources, opportunities, and privileges within a society. It also includes the protection of human rights and the recognition of the inherent dignity and worth of all individuals. The Family Violence policy in Australia contributes to a more socially just Australia by addressing the systemic inequalities and power imbalances that contribute to violence and abuse in intimate relationships.

The policy recognizes that family violence is a social problem that affects people of all genders, ages, and cultural backgrounds, and it aims to provide support and protection to those who experience violence. By providing legal protections and support services, the policy helps to ensure that victims of violence have access to the resources and assistance they need to leave abusive relationships and rebuild their lives (Tarzia et al., 2017).

Furthermore, the policy aims to address the underlying causes of violence by promoting gender equality, challenging cultural attitudes that condone violence, and investing in research to better understand the root causes of violence. These measures contribute to a more socially just Australia by working towards a society in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity, and where violence and abuse are not tolerated.


In conclusion, the Family Violence policy in Australia is an necessary step towards fostering social justice and addressing the systemic issue of family brutality. The policy is influenced by a degree of ideological perspectives, including feminist, human rights, & public health perspectives, which have helped to shape a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to addressing family violence. While there is still much work to be done to achieve a socially just Australia, the Family Violence policy symbolizes a substantial step forward in promoting the safety and well-being of all individuals, particularly those who are most vulnerable to violence and abuse.


Murray, S., Bullen, J., Theobald, J., & Watson, J. (2021). Building the Evidence for Family Violence Policy Reform: The Work of Specialist Women’s Refuges in Victoria, Australia. Social Policy and Society, 1–17.

Fiolet, R., Tarzia, L., Owen, R., Eccles, C., Nicholson, K., Owen, M., Fry, S., Knox, J., & Hegarty, K. (2019). Indigenous Perspectives on Help-Seeking for Family Violence: Voices From an Australian Community. Journal of Interpersonal Violence36(21-22), 088626051988386.

Tarzia, L., Humphreys, C., & Hegarty, K. (2017). Translating research about domestic and family violence into practice in Australia: possibilities and prospects. Evidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate and Practice13(4), 709–722.×14742825885830

Chappell, L., & Costello, M. (2011). Australian Federalism and Domestic Violence Policy-Making. Australian Journal of Political Science46(4), 633–650.

Doyle, T. P. (2017). The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the Roman Catholic Church. Child Abuse & Neglect74, 103–106.

Harvie, P., & Manzi, T. (2011). Interpreting Multi-Agency Partnerships: Ideology, Discourse and Domestic Violence. Social & Legal Studies20(1), 79–95.

Gover, A. R., & Moore, A. M. (2020). The 1994 Violence Against Women Act: A Historic Response to Gender Violence. Violence against Women27(1), 107780122094970.

van Wormer, K. (2009). Restorative Justice as Social Justice for Victims of Gendered Violence: a Standpoint Feminist Perspective. Social Work54(2), 107–116.

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