Research Handbook on Gender, Sexuality and the Law
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Research Handbook on Gender, Sexuality and the Law

Edited by Chris Ashford and Alexander Maine

This innovative and thought-provoking Research Handbook explores not only current debates in the area of gender, sexuality and the law but also points the way for future socio-legal research and scholarship. It presents wide-ranging insights and debates from across the globe, including Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and Australia, with contributions from leading scholars and activists alongside exciting emergent voices.
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Chapter 22: Law, society and domestic violence: best practice methodologies for evaluating integrated domestic violence services

Nan Seuffert and Trish Mundy

Abstract

This chapter begins by tracing a tension in the feminist-inspired interagency, or coordinated community response model, between feminist theories, practices and approaches to domestic violence and neoliberal governmental ‘service delivery’ imperatives. We argue that when governmental priorities dominate, forms of knowledge and practice judgment that emphasise a ‘reflective’ and ‘responsive’ approach to policy and practice context, which are more consistent with feminist method, can be sidelined in constructing our understanding of ‘best practice’. The chapter next analyses evaluation methods for integrated agency and community response to intimate partner violence, arguing that the best of the coordinated response programmes related to intimate partner violence retain the feminist goals of safety and autonomy for survivors while holding abusers accountable, and should therefore be evaluated against their success at achieving these goals. We argue that where programmes do not have stated goals – and this is not unusual – they should also be evaluated against these broader goals. Finally, the chapter provides a recent example of a feminist focused evaluation methodology that the authors conducted on the Domestic Violence Intervention Service (DVIS), in Nowra, NSW in Australia, highlighting an example of these tensions. We focus on interagency responses to intimate partner violence in Australia, drawing on programmes and research from the United Kingdom and the United States where relevant due to the influence of overseas models and research, and due to the similarities in the government imperatives and moves to embrace these programmes.

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