Our Watch

Skip to content

Working in the legal and justice system

2 minutes

This setting includes the many sectors that are involved in intervening in violence after it has occurred, such as police, courts, law and justice agencies and rehabilitation services.

Why this setting? 

Legal, justice and corrections agencies provide an important foundation for prevention by ensuring safety for victims and accountability for perpetrators.

Judgments and sentencing of perpetrators in this setting has a powerful influence on community attitudes about the seriousness and drivers of violence against women – and this influence can be positive or negative. This setting can also be a place where gender inequality, violence, and sexual harassment occurs to both employees as well as with the broader community and clients.

Legal and correctional systems often have unequal impacts across the community, with some groups having more adverse outcomes from contact with these systems. This contributes to some women facing greater barriers to reporting violence including being believed and holding perpetrators accountable.

Victims/survivors of violence are more likely than the general population to become criminalised and be in contact with the legal and correctional system, often due to acts committed as a result of poverty, homelessness, or dealing with the violence towards them.

Key opportunities 

  • Influence community attitudes regarding the condoning of violence against women through judgements and sentencing of perpetrators.
  • Advocate for organisations and services in this sector to adopt internal organisational change work to address the drivers of violence.

Things you can do 

  • Take a whole-of-organisation approach that involves all staff and other members of the agency or organisation. This will increase understanding and awareness and influence underlying attitudes and beliefs.
  • Ensure safety for victims and accountability for perpetrators through their sentencing and judgment — this sends a message to the community that violence against women will not be condoned.
  • Promoting change so that victim/survivors of violence are not adversely affected by particular laws e.g. removing imprisonment as a punishment for unpaid fines.

Resource for the justice and legal system