Austrian Policy on Domestic Violence

One of the most important tasks of the police consists in preventing violence and to ensure that individuals can lead a life without being afraid of assaults. Established in 1997, the Anti-Violence Act helped to start a re-evaluating process in Austria with proper respect and public awareness to the issue of domestic violence. Domestic violence became regarded a responsibility to be taken by the state and the society on the whole.

Turning the violent individual away from the home where the victim resides provides an efficient instrument and distinct signal pointing out the victim's right to security and clearly showing the perpetrator's responsibility for his violent behavior. The rising number of these prohibition orders proves that the Anti-Violence Act, which has become an example throughout Europe, is quite effectively enforced by Austrian law enforcement. Summing up one can say that the intention of the Anti-Violence Act is to interrupt the spiral of violence by turning the violent individual away from the scene and to support the victim of violence through the proactively contact with the non-governmental Shelter Centers, which has been achieved.

In 2013 the paragraph about turning the perpetrator away from the victim´s home was extended: now the police has the possibility to order the offender to stay away from schools and kindergartens if children were or could be affected by violent assaults.

  • Intensified interdisciplinary training procedures in law enforcement authorities

Interdisciplinary trainings and follow-up trainings for police officers to promote and inform them about legislative changes have been established. The aim is to attain a sustainable prevention of violence and adherence to the Anti-Violence Act.

Training procedures implemented by both law enforcement authorities and shelter centers in the different regions raised awareness of domestic violence. This has contributed to a reduction of the number of cases of domestic violence. The improvements of the Austrian Security Police Act contain comprehensive interdisciplinary training and follow-up courses for police officers with a view to publicizing, educating and informing of the new changes in legislation. In this context, the goal is to assure sustainable prevention of violence and compliance with the provisions of the Federal Act in the Protection against Domestic Violence. Appropriate training of law enforcement personnel is a requirement for effective prevention of domestic violence. One of the key elements of this training is to make law enforcement officers aware of violence occurring within relationships and to empathize them with the situation of victims in such violent relationships. Further central topics are: myths about violence, psychological victim and perpetrator profiles, victim traumatology, violence directed at children, the role and tasks of victim shelters and youth welfare facilities, as well as the legal framework for all of those institutions.

  • Service of the Federal Asylum Office

According to article 20 Asylum Act 2005 an asylum seeker has the right to be interviewed by a case worker of the same sex, if their well-founded fear of persecution is based on an infringement of sexual self-determination. Following the Austrian court of administration, article 20 Asylum Act 2005 is also significant for the employment of interpreters: the asylum seeker has in case of availability-also the right to have their interview translated by an interpreter of the same sex.

When starting their service in the Federal Asylum office, new case workers receive initial training on the job. Already within this initial training phase they learn the basics inter alia of recognizing traumatized persons and reacting accordingly.

Further trainings in interviewing techniques are part of the regular training program: These modules comprise advanced training on interviewing techniques and the interaction with volatile groups, which include special training regarding women who are victims of violence and sexual assaults. The case workers are thus particularly sensitized to issues such as sense of shame, traumatic experiences (e.g. violence against women and sexual assault) and cultural differences.

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