Using behavioural insights to reduce domestic violence

Roundtable outcomes

The Summit roundtables identified a number of key insights and suggested actions, summarised below.

Key insights identified by roundtable participants

  • Behavioural insights challenge the conventional economic paradigm that people are rational and act with self-interest. It gives us an opportunity to rethink our approach to complex social policy issues, like domestic violence.

  • Behavioural insights emphasise that, to be effective, interventions to change behavior need to be easy, attractive, social and timely (EAST).

  • Using randomised controlled trials, wherever possible, when implementing interventions helps provide robust evidence of impacts on behaviour.

  • In New South Wales, a trial is underway which aims to increase court attendance by perpetrators. Perpetrators are sent a text message as a reminder (some are worded more positively, others more formally). Interim results are showing an 11 per cent increase in court attendance overall.

  • Collaboration across jurisdictions could help to increase sample sizes for tests of interventions, which would improve the basis for randomised controlled trials.

  • Jurisdictions working together will also help to build the understanding of the merits of behavioural insights among the women’s safety sector.

A number of contributions to the online roundtables have also been received. Those contributions are still being reviewed but some of the main themes and ideas highlighted include:

  • Behavioural insights can have many applications to reduce violence against women and their children, including by:
    1. exploring what works in shifting behaviours, aspirations and expectations;
    2. teaching respectful communication skills; and
    3. targeting and preventing alcohol abuse.

  • Behavioural insights interventions should draw on the expertise of specialist services in devising interventions for women and children.


Discussion paper authored by New South Wales in preparation for COAG National Summit



Background


‘Behavioural insights’ (BI) is based on the premise that people are not always the rational, self-interested decision-makers described in standard economics textbooks. We know from our own lives that we often fail to do what's best for us, despite our best intentions - whether it be exercising more, saving money or eating healthily. We can use this understanding of how humans really behave in everyday life to help design and implement better policies and services.


The application of behavioural insights goes hand in hand with an experimental approach to designing policies and services. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are a valuable tool to generate the evidence needed to learn what works and what does not. This evidence-based approach enables government to adapt their policies so that they steadily improve both in terms of quality and effectiveness.


In recent years, the Commonwealth Government, New South Wales and Victoria have established their own behavioural insights units, and have run successful behavioural interventions in a range of areas, including fines collection and helping people return to work. Many of these interventions have been relatively simple and cheap to implement (e.g. highlighting social norms to encourage people to pay their tax on time). However, BI also provides new ways of looking at existing challenges, including complex social problems like domestic violence, and can be used in conjunction with traditional policy levers such as reform, regulation and information campaigns.


Behavioural Insights Units (BIUs) use a distinct methodology during this process, which has three iterative phases:



  • Understand the issue and context - identify exactly what behaviours they want to change and then develop a good understanding of the context from both the users’ and providers’ perspective.
  • Build insights and interventions – collaboratively design interventions with apartner agency. To inform this process BIUs draws on fieldwork findings, academic research and behavioural frameworks, such as EAST and MINDSPACE, to develop insights about the behavioural bottlenecks and enablers.
  • Test, learn, adapt - when implementing the intervention(s), the objective is to determine the impact in the most rigorous way possible. Where possible RCTs are used, which compare the effectiveness of the intervention(s) against what would have happened if nothing had changed. If effective, BIUs works with partner agencies to then scale the intervention(s).



This roundtable will discuss innovative ways behavioural insights and behaviour change programs can be used to complement traditional policies and programs in relation to domestic and family violence.


Examples


The NSW DPC Behavioural Insights Unit is partnering with the NSW Department of Justice to trial innovative measures that aim to reduce apprehended domestic violence order (ADVO) breaches and reoffending and support behaviour change amongst domestic violence (DV) perpetrators. This includes:



  • roll-out of the new plain English ADVO by early 2017, which simplifies and personalises the language, as well as including new behaviourally informed messaging
  • trialling personalised SMS reminder messages to test whether sending them to DV defendants 24 hours before their court listing date affects their attendance rates and compliance with their ADVOs



  • trialling two short intervention models (behavioural change group workshops and individual planning sessions) for DV perpetrators, to ensure they understand the impact of DV and consider ways to change their behaviour. The trials aim to complement existing Men’s Behaviour Change Programs and will be designed to encourage perpetrators to reflect on their behaviour through the provision of information, support and referrals
  • the development of a digital resource for DV perpetrators, to provide information, tools and prompts to support behaviour change and improve compliance with ADVOs.


Discussion questions


  • How can a better use of technology and data analytics help to design and deliver better behaviour change programs (e.g. predictive risk modelling, wearable/trackable devices – including alcohol monitoring, video testimonies, police camera footage of incident scene, personalised apps, digital support services i.e. E-CBT)
  • How can behavioural insights and the use of randomised controlled trials be used to complement traditional policy levels (e.g. report, information campaigns) to reduce DV and reoffending?
  • How can small behavioural interventions or ‘nudges’ (such as the simplification of ADVOs and court processes, SMS reminders and prompts, commitment devices and planning tools) promote defendants’ understanding and engagement with the court/ADVO process, and help to reduce reoffending?



Contribute to the online roundtable discussion about using behavioural insights to reduce domestic violence


We want to hear your thoughts and ideas about using behavioural insights to reduce domestic violence.

You can submit your ideas using the form below. For more information please see the About the Summit page or About online roundtables.


Roundtable outcomes

The Summit roundtables identified a number of key insights and suggested actions, summarised below.

Key insights identified by roundtable participants

  • Behavioural insights challenge the conventional economic paradigm that people are rational and act with self-interest. It gives us an opportunity to rethink our approach to complex social policy issues, like domestic violence.

  • Behavioural insights emphasise that, to be effective, interventions to change behavior need to be easy, attractive, social and timely (EAST).

  • Using randomised controlled trials, wherever possible, when implementing interventions helps provide robust evidence of impacts on behaviour.

  • In New South Wales, a trial is underway which aims to increase court attendance by perpetrators. Perpetrators are sent a text message as a reminder (some are worded more positively, others more formally). Interim results are showing an 11 per cent increase in court attendance overall.

  • Collaboration across jurisdictions could help to increase sample sizes for tests of interventions, which would improve the basis for randomised controlled trials.

  • Jurisdictions working together will also help to build the understanding of the merits of behavioural insights among the women’s safety sector.

A number of contributions to the online roundtables have also been received. Those contributions are still being reviewed but some of the main themes and ideas highlighted include:

  • Behavioural insights can have many applications to reduce violence against women and their children, including by:
    1. exploring what works in shifting behaviours, aspirations and expectations;
    2. teaching respectful communication skills; and
    3. targeting and preventing alcohol abuse.

  • Behavioural insights interventions should draw on the expertise of specialist services in devising interventions for women and children.


Discussion paper authored by New South Wales in preparation for COAG National Summit



Background


‘Behavioural insights’ (BI) is based on the premise that people are not always the rational, self-interested decision-makers described in standard economics textbooks. We know from our own lives that we often fail to do what's best for us, despite our best intentions - whether it be exercising more, saving money or eating healthily. We can use this understanding of how humans really behave in everyday life to help design and implement better policies and services.


The application of behavioural insights goes hand in hand with an experimental approach to designing policies and services. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) are a valuable tool to generate the evidence needed to learn what works and what does not. This evidence-based approach enables government to adapt their policies so that they steadily improve both in terms of quality and effectiveness.


In recent years, the Commonwealth Government, New South Wales and Victoria have established their own behavioural insights units, and have run successful behavioural interventions in a range of areas, including fines collection and helping people return to work. Many of these interventions have been relatively simple and cheap to implement (e.g. highlighting social norms to encourage people to pay their tax on time). However, BI also provides new ways of looking at existing challenges, including complex social problems like domestic violence, and can be used in conjunction with traditional policy levers such as reform, regulation and information campaigns.


Behavioural Insights Units (BIUs) use a distinct methodology during this process, which has three iterative phases:



  • Understand the issue and context - identify exactly what behaviours they want to change and then develop a good understanding of the context from both the users’ and providers’ perspective.
  • Build insights and interventions – collaboratively design interventions with apartner agency. To inform this process BIUs draws on fieldwork findings, academic research and behavioural frameworks, such as EAST and MINDSPACE, to develop insights about the behavioural bottlenecks and enablers.
  • Test, learn, adapt - when implementing the intervention(s), the objective is to determine the impact in the most rigorous way possible. Where possible RCTs are used, which compare the effectiveness of the intervention(s) against what would have happened if nothing had changed. If effective, BIUs works with partner agencies to then scale the intervention(s).



This roundtable will discuss innovative ways behavioural insights and behaviour change programs can be used to complement traditional policies and programs in relation to domestic and family violence.


Examples


The NSW DPC Behavioural Insights Unit is partnering with the NSW Department of Justice to trial innovative measures that aim to reduce apprehended domestic violence order (ADVO) breaches and reoffending and support behaviour change amongst domestic violence (DV) perpetrators. This includes:



  • roll-out of the new plain English ADVO by early 2017, which simplifies and personalises the language, as well as including new behaviourally informed messaging
  • trialling personalised SMS reminder messages to test whether sending them to DV defendants 24 hours before their court listing date affects their attendance rates and compliance with their ADVOs



  • trialling two short intervention models (behavioural change group workshops and individual planning sessions) for DV perpetrators, to ensure they understand the impact of DV and consider ways to change their behaviour. The trials aim to complement existing Men’s Behaviour Change Programs and will be designed to encourage perpetrators to reflect on their behaviour through the provision of information, support and referrals
  • the development of a digital resource for DV perpetrators, to provide information, tools and prompts to support behaviour change and improve compliance with ADVOs.


Discussion questions


  • How can a better use of technology and data analytics help to design and deliver better behaviour change programs (e.g. predictive risk modelling, wearable/trackable devices – including alcohol monitoring, video testimonies, police camera footage of incident scene, personalised apps, digital support services i.e. E-CBT)
  • How can behavioural insights and the use of randomised controlled trials be used to complement traditional policy levels (e.g. report, information campaigns) to reduce DV and reoffending?
  • How can small behavioural interventions or ‘nudges’ (such as the simplification of ADVOs and court processes, SMS reminders and prompts, commitment devices and planning tools) promote defendants’ understanding and engagement with the court/ADVO process, and help to reduce reoffending?



Contribute to the online roundtable discussion about using behavioural insights to reduce domestic violence


We want to hear your thoughts and ideas about using behavioural insights to reduce domestic violence.

You can submit your ideas using the form below. For more information please see the About the Summit page or About online roundtables.


  • Share your views

    Please limit your submission to 300 words. You are also welcome to upload videos or sound recordings.

    Your views may be presented to Summit participants in summary, in part or in full. They may also be used in any publication produced by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, or the Queensland Department of the Premier and Cabinet following the Summit.

    Please limit your submission to 300 words. You are also welcome to upload videos or sound recordings.

    Your views may be presented to Summit participants in summary, in part or in full. They may also be used in any publication produced by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, or the Queensland Department of the Premier and Cabinet following the Summit.

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