Increasing compliance with domestic violence orders
Behaviourally informed app design: World first app aimed to increase compliance with domestic violence orders launched
Compliance with Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs) is a key aspect of reducing domestic violence reoffending and ensuring victim safety. An ADVO is a court order issued to protect victims of domestic violence by imposing conditions on a perpetrator, including limiting their contact with the victim, or specifying places they cannot visit.
Services are available to address broader behaviour change and the root causes of domestic and family violence. Compliance with ADVOs presents a specific behavioural challenge. This led the NSW Government to question: how can we use behavioural insights to improve compliance with ADVOs?
The NSW Behavioural Insights Unit, Department of Communities and Justice, and Miroma Project Factory developed ‘Avow’, a digital app that aims to hold domestic violence perpetrators to account by increasing ADVO compliance. Avow puts the information and tools perpetrators need to comply with their ADVO at their fingertips. The app incorporates planning tools, timely reminders and easy to access information, as well as embracing several digital nudges to enhance engagement.
Avow is available to download on the Avow web page.
Behavioural barriers to ADVO compliance create a need for a digital resource for perpetrators
We did research to identify behavioural barriers to complying with ADVO conditions, including:
- Scarcity and cognitive load: It is important that ADVO recipients understand the content of their orders so that they can be held to account. ADVOs contain language that can be difficult to understand, so ensuring clear comprehension of conditions is crucial.
- Intention-action gap: An ADVO recipient’s intentions to comply with their ADVO may not translate into compliance.
- Present bias: Offender’s may engage in risky behaviour because it offers them an instant reward, despite the longer-term reward of ADVO compliance being much greater (such as avoidance of a criminal charge, a fine or jail time).
Avow seeks to address these behavioural barriers to increase ADVO compliance.
Figure 1. Avow make a plan
The app is designed to enhance users’ understanding of their ADVO by providing behaviourally-informed tools and easy to understand information, including:
- An evidence-based planning tool that educates users about obstacles to compliance and provides simple actions they can take to overcome them.
- Users can create a personalised if-then plan to help them build healthier non-abusive habits. An example plan is shown in figure 1.
- Personalised reminders prompt users about their plan, encouraging positive behaviour at times they have identified as being most at risk for breaching their order.
- As tested through our SMS trial, timely court date reminders appear throughout the app, along with information about attending court.
- Personalisation, as well as features that allow users to have a ‘conversation’ with the app, increase user engagement and build trust.
- A dynamic home screen ensures that relevant and personalised information is salient and reduces friction. Tips about attending court are placed front and centre before a user’s court date, and the user’s motivation moves to the top of the home page once their ADVO is finalised by the court.
Published: 2 June 2021