Author Paul Nelson
Published December 2018
Report Type Bureau Brief No. 138
Subject Aboriginal / Indigenous Australians; Apprehended violence orders (AVOs); Domestic violence; Mental health; Evaluation reports
Keywords Domestic violence, ADVO, treatment, Aboriginal, implementation, process evaluation

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'What’s Your Plan?' (WYP) is a brief program designed to increase compliance with Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders among Aboriginal defendants, delivered by Aboriginal Client and Community Support Officers (ACCSOs) in the Local Court. This process evaluation aimed to:

(1) determine whether WYP was implemented as intended in the first seven months of operation, and
(2) identify barriers and facilitators to implementation.


The evaluation reviewed implementation in 45 courts from October 2017 to April 2018 (the first seven months of the planned two-year trial period required for BOCSAR’s outcome evaluation). Data on trial activity in treatment weeks (during which ACCSOs offered WYP) and comparison weeks (during which ACCSOs did not offer WYP) were extracted from the WYP database and augmented with interviews (with delivery staff, supervisors, and stakeholders), court observations and trial documentation.


During the seven month review period, ACCSOs identified 1,031 eligible defendants (about a third of the estimated eligible population). The treatment group comprised the 374 eligible defendants who attended court in treatment weeks and could therefore be offered WYP. Of these 374, 283 (76%) were offered WYP and 104 (28%) completed the WYP session. Most completers also received SMS reminders or a follow-up call. Identification of Aboriginal persons proved difficult, as ACCSOs did not have access to a reliable list of Aboriginal defendants. The key facilitator of intended implementation was the enthusiasm of ACCSOs and management to participate in the trial and deliver WYP. Despite this, non- or incomplete engagement (defendants who were identified but did not receive or respond to an offer to participate) was a major source of attrition. A consistent barrier to implementation was the narrow window of time in which ACCSOs had to locate and deliver WYP with voluntary participants, whilst managing competing demands from other clients, especially on busy court days. Most ACCSOs also experienced long delays between training and completing WYP sessions, which meant they had little opportunity to reinforce and refine planning skills with defendants.


WYP is an innovative program for Aboriginal defendants that has been widely implemented in courts across NSW. Despite some structural barriers to implementation, the diverse workforce and settings for this trial, and its substantial delivery and reporting demands, WYP has been, for the most part, implemented as intended.

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