The Role of Technology in Improving Access to Justice for Victims of Family Violence: Challenges and Opportunities
In Australia, domestic and family violence (DFV) is a major health and human rights issue. Technology is increasingly being recognised as an important tool to assist victims/survivors of DFV in accessing legal services, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Technology has been rapidly rolled out to assist victims/survivors obtain legal advice and protection orders, and to participate in judicial processes. This article focuses on the experiences of lawyers in Victoria who have been using technology as part of their work to support victims/survivors of DFV. Interviews with the lawyers reveal that while technology plays a crucial role in enhancing access to justice for victims of DFV, it can also present risks, particularly in view of perpetrators’ increasing use of technology to facilitate violence. Technology may also replicate the barriers already faced by many victims when seeking justice. These issues arise because, often, technology is not designed based on the needs of the victims/survivors. This article argues that to ensure the safety and security of DFV victims/survivors and to facilitate their access to justice, the development and design of technology must be victim-centric and trauma-informed.