ECPR Standing Groups
University of Lausanne, ECPG Conference
8 - 10 June 2017

A Critical Frame Analysis of Gender in Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence

Public Policy
Qualitative Comparative Analysis
Sophie Yates
Australia and New Zealand School of Government
Sophie Yates
Australia and New Zealand School of Government

This paper examines gender and the framing of domestic and family violence (DFV) in the 2015-16 Royal Commission into Family Violence held in the Australian state of Victoria. The Royal Commission has had (and continues to have) a powerful effect on DFV policy in Victoria; the government accepted all 227 of its wide-ranging recommendations. In the context of fierce public debate about the role of gender in DFV, and about the role of individual risk factors vs societal causes, how did key policy actors frame the problem of DFV in their contributions to the Commission? How did the Commission then frame the problem in its report and recommendations? Of particular interest will be debates about the role of individual risk factors for DFV such as mental health and drug/alcohol abuse, where the focus tends to be on individual differences or psychopathology, and a gender and power analysis is at risk of disappearing altogether.

The framing of policy actors contributing to the Commission, and the Commission’s response (in the form of its report and recommendations) will be analysed using Critical Frame Analysis (Verloo 2005; 2007; Lombardo and Meier 2008). This is an appropriate method for uncovering the role of gender in policy actors’ problem framing - gender tends to disappear in policy debates and it is often referred to obliquely or indirectly, but Critical Frame Analysis was developed to enable the hidden significance of a text to firstly be made explicit, and then compared with other relevant texts. In this way, the framing of Royal Commission contributors can be compared to the framing of the Commission itself, to see which actors have been successful in influencing the work of this important policy broker.
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