Project SAFER (Phase 1 and 2) was a collaboration between Queensland Police Gold Coast District and the Domestic Violence Prevention Centre Gold Coast Inc. The project was developed to address local needs identified through the Gold Coast Domestic Violence Integrated Response and draws on international experiences from the United States and Canada.
The first phase of Project SAFER was developed in 2003 and was piloted at Southport Police Station from August until November 2003.
The project involved developing and implementing a specialised domestic violence investigation worksheet. The worksheet was designed to increase the ability of first response police to respond to domestic violence incidents consistently. Risk assessment questions were included to help police to collect more information about the history of domestic violence.
The first stage of Project SAFER was formally evaluated by the Research and Education Unit on Gendered Violence at the University of South Australia in 2004. The evaluation showed a significant increase in police action taken and an increase in referrals by police to the Domestic Violence Prevention Centre through the Fax-Back project during the Project SAFER period. An internal evaluation was conducted by the Queensland Police Service, the Domestic Violence Prevention Centre provided project management of the project and costs were met out of the existing budget of the Domestic Violence Prevention Centre.
This project targeted the Northern end of the Gold Coast and involved 3 police divisions: Southport, Runaway Bay and Coomera. The trial period ran for one year from 1st July 2005 until 30th June 2006.
The Queensland Police Service funded printing of the new worksheet and the Domestic Violence Prevention Centre obtained a grant from the Gambling Machine Community Benefit Fund for $30,000 for further evaluation of the project.
In 2004 the Gold Coast Domestic Violence Integrated Response lobbied for a Criminal Justice Reform Pilot Project for the Gold Coast to sit within the existing Gold Coast Domestic Violence Integrated Response (GCDVIR). The project partners included Police, Prosecution, Courts, Magistrates, Domestic Violence Service, Legal Aid and Community Corrections.
The Criminal Justice Response Project proposed to:
The project would strengthen the use of the Criminal Code where an offence under this legislation has been committed. Protection Orders are a critical element in the safety and protection of victims.
Other programs have shown enhanced use of the Criminal Code can be achieved without ‘clogging’ the courts, compromising the safety of victims or escalating costs. Additional resource costs are off-set with cost savings in a reduction in repeat police call-outs, reduction in court hours, more effective management of offenders and safer communities. The proposed project sought to reposition domestic violence ‘crimes’ within a reformed Criminal Justice System that addressed and supported the safety needs of victims while holding perpetrators of violence systemically accountable.
The GCDVIR continues to lobby for funding for a stronger Criminal Justice System response to domestic violence.