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Community intervention projects

Last edited: March 07, 2019

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In this model, an independent, external body takes responsibility for coordinating all of the agencies involved in the coordinated response.  This role includes improving, coordinating and monitoring institutional and service responses to violence against women.  Examples of this type of model are the DAIP in Duluth and ‘intervention projects’ in Austria and Germany.  This type of coordination body is usually a non-profit organisation/NGO, often one that specializes in preventing and addressing violence against women (Shepard, 1999). 

One of the advantages of this model is the coordinating body’s independence, which can ease management of inter-institutional conflicts or differences. It can also act as an intermediary if sensitive issues need to be raised, which may be preferable to discussing them in the large meeting context of a coordinating council or committee (Shepard, 1999).  In addition, the leadership of an independent civil society organization that is focused on violence against women is likely to ensure the prioritization of victim safety and offender accountability in the development and implementation of coordination.

The key elements of this model are:

  • Independence from state agencies and institutions;
  • Typically provides direct services; and
  • Focuses on building capacity and coordination among implementing agencies.

 

Case study: Coordinating inter-institutional cooperation through ‘intervention projects’ (Germany)

Background

In Germany, ‘intervention projects’, drawing on the Duluth model, were developed in the 1990s to respond to intimate partner violence.  These were inter-institutional and inter-disciplinary and brought together representatives from all agencies, institutions and professions in a given region working on the issue in a central cooperation forum, such as a roundtable.  The long-term aim was for institutions to develop a shared understanding of intimate partner violence, establish common goals and coordinate their procedures.  The concept of the ‘intervention chain’ is core to this approach – and the aim of intervention projects is to create an unbroken, seamless process (chain) that increases women’s safety.  This concept, and the fact that all agencies were part of the chain, provided a shared framework for joint actions. 

Between 1998 and 2004 the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth funded a six-year evaluation of ten pilot intervention projects.  All worked with the following overarching principles:

  • Private and public violence should be treated equally in the state system of sanctions;
  • Perpetrators should be held accountable; and
  • Reliable protection and support should be guaranteed for victims/survivors.

To implement these goals, all the projects pursued three core strategies:

  • Creating a context that would enable improved intervention and support;
  • Developing a core concept to guide all parties involved; and
  • Organising learning processes within the agencies.

The Berlin Intervention Project against Domestic Violence (BIG), originally founded in 1995, was one example of a project involved in the evaluation.  BIG’s aims included:

  • Developing a framework to guarantee protection and support for women and their children;
  • Strengthening the rights and legal status of victims/survivors;
  • Ensuring that society condemns violence and its perpetrators;
  • Holding perpetrators accountable, e.g. through the police taking violent men into custody and/or through civil and criminal law sanctions;
  • Gathering data about domestic violence and developing prevention work; and
  • Participating in inter-sectoral coordinated action to address domestic violence.

Coordination mechanisms

  • The central body is a Political Round Table, where governmental, administrative and non-governmental organizations and projects meet as equal partners: this body approves all specific measures, and all decisions are made by consensus.
  • Seven permanent working groups look at central areas of policy and work out detailed proposals for procedures, tools or measures to be introduced.
  • Cooperation in these bodies is facilitated by a central coordinators’ office, a publicly funded NGO staffed by organisations working on domestic violence.

Outcomes

  • Guiding principles for policing in domestic violence cases.
  • Proposal for a new law for the protection from violence and for police laws.
  • Model applications for protection orders.
  • Directive for the improvement of the legal situation of migrant women.
  • A survey of professional staff involved across the evaluated projects found high satisfaction with the coordination, but the majority believed they needed to be on-going to achieve lasting changes.

Lessons learned

  • An independent coordination body is critical even when intervention projects have been working successfully for a long time.
  • Inter-institutional cooperation needs a dedicated venue, specific forums and independent resources.
  • Conferences and in-service training courses on domestic violence for specific professions are important and should be on-going.

Source: Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, Germany (2004) Working Together to Combat Domestic Violence: Cooperation, Intervention, Research. Findings of the Evaluation Research Assessing Intervention Projects against Domestic Violence (German acronym: WiBIG), BMFSFJ, available in English and German

Additional information obtained from WiBIG website and BIG project, Berlin website.