The Coalition has invested $150 million (US$110 million) in a range of measures to prevent domestic and sexual violence, including a $20 million fund for electronic monitoring of high-risk family violence perpetrators.
The package includes $54.6 million to keep up to 30,000 victim-survivors safe in their homes through security assessments, as well as $26.6 million for online safety initiatives. The government has also provided an additional $46 million to continue the ‘Stop it at the Start’ campaign, which aims at raising awareness of emerging issues such as tech-facilitated abuse.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Senator Marise Payne, noted that technology is part of the solution to living free from violence.
“Technology is a great enabler, and we want it to empower victim-survivors, but, distressingly, it has become a weapon of choice for perpetrators of family, domestic and sexual violence,” Payne said.
“The Morrison Government is committed to improving the safety of Australian women in all settings, including online.”
“We have already taken significant steps to improve the online safety of Australians by introducing world-first anti-bullying schemes for adults and children. We have also reduced the takedown time for service providers to remove image-based abuse.”
It is based upon Tasmania’s electronic monitoring model, which has kept watch on 136 offenders and provided GPS monitored duress alarms to 75 victims since its inception in 2017.
Tasmanian Attorney-General Elise Archer said that an independent review of the program, tabled in parliament in 2021, found it has increased police response times and significantly reduced dangerous incidents for victims.
Under the Tasmanian model, victims are given a duress alarm with GPS tracking capabilities. The Attorney-General noted that the duress alarms provide victims with “an additional layer of protection.” while the GPS tracking gives them “confidence that a police response is a priority in managing their safety.”
“We established a dedicated unit with specialist officers within our Community Corrections to monitor all GPS devices across Tasmania and respond to critical risk situations,” Archer said in a media release on Monday.
“When a perpetrator’s movements indicate that there has been a breach of an order or that there is a risk to a victim, this team works to immediately manage the situation in real-time and coordinate an immediate and proportionate response with Tasmania Police.”
However, a 2018 report by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety Limited found electronic monitoring cannot keep domestic violence victims safe on its own because it can only track the offenders’ movements, while most forms of domestic and family violence go undetected.
Instead, it should be used as part of an overall case management program incorporating interventions that respond to the risk and needs of individuals.
Tasmanian’s electronic monitoring trial in 2020 resulted in a 70 percent reduction of assaults, 80 percent reduction in threats, 89 percent decrease in emotional abuse allegations, and 100 percent decrease in stalking reports.