An Australian Research Council (ARC) funded research team from QUT Centre for Justice, led by Professor Kerry Carrington conducted three months of field research in Argentina, interviewing 100 employees from 10 women’s police stations. Women’s police stations are a unique invention that emerged in Latin America in the mid-1980s in response to the demands of women’s rights movements and were specifically designed to respond to victims of gender-based violence. They adopt a gender perspective and work in multi-disciplinary teams with social workers, counsellors and lawyers to respond to the women who seek their assistance. They also provide childcare and offer victims a gateway to other support. Notably, they do not prioritise a criminal justice response over the wishes of those who seek their services, so do not rob victims of their agency.
The results revealed that women’s police stations prevent gender violence in three main ways:
1) by denaturalising violence and empowering women to break the cycle;
2) by partnering with the community to transform the local norms that sustain violence against women; and
3) by working collaboratively with other local organisations to produce a local roadmap.
This latest Briefing Paper provides an overview of their research into what can be learned from these unique approaches to improve the policing and prevention of gender violence in Australia. To explore whether the innovative strategies used by the specialist police stations in Argentina could improve the way in which gender violence is responded to in Australia, they conducted two surveys: a community survey (n = 566) and a workforce survey (n = 277). The research team concluded that if appropriately staffed by Indigenous and non-Indigenous multi-disciplinary team members who have been trained to work from both gender and culturally sensitive perspectives, police stations designed to specifically respond to gender violence have the potential to significantly enhance the policing of gender violence across Australia. Given these promising prospects, it is recommended that Australian jurisdictions undertake a trial in which specialised police stations are staffed by multi-disciplinary teams to assess their feasibility.
A link to the QUT Centre for Justice Briefing Paper can be found here.
A link to other QUT Centre for Justice Briefing Papers can be found here.
The QUT Centre for Justice Briefing Paper Series provides short, accessible accounts of topics and issues related to justice.
To read more about their unique approaches to policing and preventing gender violence, visit the project web page.