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Digital Transformation in Government Insight #49:
Transformation for family violence intervention

Digital transformation is alive and well in court services…the Neighbourhood Justice Centre’s online Family Violence Intervention Order (FVIO) is a great example.

Salsa Digital 23 January 2018

Digital transformation in court services

Digital transformation has brought many changes to government services across a range of areas — from healthcare to tax and everything in between. In our first Digital Transformation in Government (DTIG) blog for 2018 we’re going to look at court services.

Mandarin article in late 2016 looked at some examples of bringing courts and tribunals online and said: “There’s huge potential for digitising some of the dispute resolution currently handled in clogged up courts.”The article also talked about what courts could learn from eBay, which apparently has a very sophisticated online dispute settlement system, including online juries if necessary. Who knew!?

There are some great examples from overseas, including Gov.UK’s section for ‘crime, justice and the law’, which has lots of links to online information and forms. For example, you can report a range of crimes online, from smuggling to hate crimes and domestic violence.

Here in Australia, the Federal court system includes an elodgement system that allows registered users to lodge applications and supporting documents online; eCourtroom, a virtual courtroom used in some matters; and the Commonwealth Courts Portal where users can access web-based services across the Family Court of Australia, Federal Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia.

Going online – family violence intervention order

A great example of digital transformation in the court systems in Victoria is the family violence intervention order (FVIO) online form. Traditionally, victims of domestic violence needed to submit a family violence intervention order (FVIO) application at their local Magistrates’ Court (or police did so on their behalf, if the police had been called). However, it’s often a very difficult decision and victims face both emotional and administrative barriers — just getting to a Magistrates’ Court could put them in further danger.

The Neighbourhood Justice Centre (NJC) decided to create an online system to reduce the barriers. Now, people can access the FVIO form via their computer or smartphone. A series of screens captures all the necessary information, while features such as a visually prominent Quick Exit reduces the risk that the victim is ‘caught’ lodging the application. To further protect users, when the Quick Exit button is pressed the last entry in the user’s browser history is removed. The site also becomes “invisible” for one hour, with all attempts to access the site providing a white screen or a redirect to Google.

The FVIO online form was initially trialled by the NJC, but the plan is eventually, to push out the service to every local Magistrates’ Court in Victoria (52 courts).

Salsa Digital’s take

While we may be a bit biased (we helped enhance the online form ready for the larger-scale roll-out!), we think the online FVIO is a fantastic way to lower the barrier and distress involved for victims of family violence. The user experience, privacy and safety were always front-of-mind during the build and the end result is a much easier and safer system that transforms the way people deal with the Magistrates’ Court for FVIOs.

We’re looking forward to seeing more digital transformation in the court systems and being a part of future initiatives.

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