Monash Law School launches major study into legal responses to domestic violence deaths

Monash Law School and the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria (DVRCV) have launched a major report into intimate partner killings in Victoria.

Out of character? Legal Responses to Intimate Partner Homicides is the first comprehensive study of the impact of legal reforms introduced in Victoria between 2005 and 2014.

Monash Law School launches major study into legal responses to domestic violence deaths
Study law at Monash University
The report was launched by former Supreme Court Justice The Hon. Philip Cummins at the Monash Law Chambers in Melbourne’s CBD.

The report finds that despite legal reforms the gender of the perpetrators of intimate partner homicides still plays a significant role in the outcome of trials.

The authors of the report include Associate Professor Bronwyn Naylor from Monash Law School, Dr Danielle Tyson from Monash School of Social Sciences and Dr Debbie Kirkwood and Mandy McKenzie from DVRCV.

The researchers examined risk factors and legal responses to 51 homicides committed by men and 13 homicides by women against their intimate partner over a 10-year period between 2005 and 2014.

The report finds a history of family violence and relationship separation were key factors in these deaths.

“Our research has shown that men are still able to ‘explain’ their killing of an intimate partner as a ‘one off’ awful event,” says Dr Naylor. “This occurs even where there is plenty of evidence that they were violent and/or coercive to their partner over long periods of time before the killing.”

Dr Naylor says reforms to Victorian law between 2005 and 2014 have had minimal impact on the practical operation of the law in court.

The report finds that the abolition of the partial defence of defensive homicide in 2014 will disadvantage women who kill their abusive partners.

“Women charged with killing their violent partner can still have difficulty proving that they were acting in self defence, and law reforms that were aimed to make this a clearer defence in appropriate cases have not necessarily made a significant difference,” says Dr Naylor.

“We need to go back to look at our recent reforms and see why some aren’t being used and whether other reforms should be revised.”

Monash Law School

Monash Law School is one of the largest and most prestigious law schools in Australia, providing legal education and training to more than 3,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students. Monash offers a Juris Doctor program and a number of postgraduate legal degrees, including a Doctor of Judicial Sciences, Doctor of Laws, Master of Laws by Research, and several postgraduate master by coursework programs.

The Faculty of Law at Monash University has one of the largest law libraries in Australia. It also has a moot court designed as a real courtroom for practicing trial work.

Monash Law School offers high-quality teaching by leading academics and practitioners, who are experts in the teaching of law and legal practice. Additionally, the JD program offers an interactive learning environment, small class sizes and innovative teaching.


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