Family protection legislation in PNG - new pilot research
Senior Research Officer, Department of Pacific Affairs
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Dr Judy Putt explores how family violence in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has been impacted by family protection legislation.
Over the past decade, a number of Pacific Island nations have introduced family protection legislation as a means of addressing family violence. A new research pilot project led by Dr Judy Putt aims to investigate the expectations, use and efficacy of family protection legislation, and specifically protection orders, in Papua New Guinea. The pilot is envisaged as part of a broader research project on family protection legislation in a number of countries in the region.
The pilot project is being undertaken in Lae, with the support of Femili PNG, a local NGO based in Lae that runs a Case Management Centre to assist survivors of family and sexual violence to access the services they need. The research team is working closely with the Morobe Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee and Femili PNG on design, conduct and report of the project. The Canberra based service, Domestic Violence Crisis Service (DVCS), has an established relationship with Femili PNG and is involved in the research in an advisory capacity on technical aspects of the project that relate to legal practice.
The pilot project provides an opportunity to refine the research questions and appropriate methods, before expanding the project to include other sites. Key research questions for the study revolve around what kind of expectations complainants have when seeking protection orders, how the process is conducted, whether the orders are working as expected or not, what the consequences are for a breach of the orders, and if these processes interact with community, customary and church mechanisms of ensuring safety.
In March 2018 Dr Putt and Ms Eve Ball of the DVCS visited Lae to undertake preliminary stakeholder consultations on the project. Ms Ball shared with Femili PNG staff DVCS’s experience of running a Court Advocacy Program in Canberra, and Femili PNG staff and other stakeholders explained their role and work, and the difficult and often fraught context in which they operate in Lae.