Evaluation of a domestic violence treatment program

Full report: Evaluation of the EQUIPS domestic abuse program, pdf 588Kb

Release Date: Embargo 9.00AM 23 April, 2018


The treatment program for domestic violence offenders known as DVEQUIPS does not appear to reduce the risk of re-offending, according to an evaluation of the program completed by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR).

DVEQUIPS is a behaviour change program offered to medium and high-risk domestic violence offenders who are serving custodial or community-based sanctions and have a current or past domestic offence. The BOCSAR evaluation focussed on offenders placed on community-based sanctions.

BOCSAR compared a cohort who started the DVEQUIPS program (the treatment group) with a cohort who were referred to the program but did not start the program (control group), while controlling for factors that might have influenced entry onto the program.

The results revealed a slightly lower rate of general re-offending in the treatment group but the effect was not statistically different from zero. No evidence was found of a reduction in domestic violence re-offending.

Commenting on the findings, the Executive Director of BOCSAR, Dr Don Weatherburn, said that the negative finding might be because only 21.8% of those referred to DVEQUIPS actually completed treatment. This, he said, may have 'diluted' the effect of treatment.

"Unfortunately, we could not remove non-completers from the analysis without biasing the evaluation."

"This said, the fact that no difference in re-offending was observed in the treatment group despite 55.9 per cent of its members  having completed 16 two-hour treatment sessions, suggests that, if there is a treatment effect, it is likely to be comparatively small."

Despite not finding any evidence that DVEQUIPS reduces re-offending, BOCSAR cautioned against premature abandonment of the program

"Corrective Services NSW has recently improved the completion rate for DVEQUIPS and significant reforms are well underway which should enhance the effectiveness of all of CSNSW rehabilitation programs.  It may be worth waiting for these reforms to take effect and then re-evaluating DVEQUIPS."

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 8346-1100

Copies of the report: www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au