University of Tasmania
whole-winter-thesis-2012.pdf (2.21 MB)

Intimate partner violence : the impact of discourse on a coordinated response

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posted on 2023-05-26, 00:13 authored by Rosmarie Winter
The nature of domestic violence service provision has been changing in recent years as a result of the shift towards criminalisation and multi-agency responses. Tasmania introduced criminal justice legislation and an associated policy framework to address intimate partner violence in 2004 which was recognised as best practice. This thesis provides an Australian context to the international debate on the criminalisation of intimate partner violence. The research demonstrates that professional ideologies and organisational discourses influence the implementation of multi-agency responses to intimate partner violence. Using a grounded theory approach with semi-structured interviews and field observations, I explore the discourses employed by police, the legal fraternity and victim advocates to identify three major categories. These are the 'justice' discourse; the 'risk management' discourse; and the 'genuine victim' discourse. This research introduces the work of Hajer into sociology and criminology via an exploration of Hajer's concepts of discourse institutionalisation and discourse coalitions. The contribution of this thesis to the literature is the demonstration that discursive and material practices around justice, risk management and victimisation both converge and diverge to a degree between the government agencies involved in a particular discourse coalition; providing insights on the way in which agents construct the cultural conditions that support or countervail an attempt to manifest widespread social change through legislation. While both the justice discourse and the risk management discourse satisfy the conditions for discourse institutionalisation, the power of the genuine victim is more subtle and rhizomatic and it achieves significant influence through its insinuation into the other two discourses, effectively providing a gatekeeping mechanism for access to justice. In addition to the findings around discourse, the research has also highlighted issues relating to the implementation of Tasmania's Safe at Home policy. The results suggest that the risk framework as practiced by Tasmania police is not universally accepted by all members of the policy network around intimate partner violence. Furthermore, the way in which victims are constructed by police and legal professionals in combination with additional ideological discourses around evidence and legal processes may in fact compromise victim safety.


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Copyright 2012 the author

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