Family Justice Center: client-focused and multidisciplinary

In a Family Justice Center the complete chain of people and organisations involved in dealing with domestic violence – police and justice, rehabilitation, shelter and care – are situated collectively in one building. Over the last two years this approach, first developed in the United States, has been introduced in Europe with financial support by the EU DAPHNE programme.

At the end of the project a final conference took place in Brussels, where the six pilot projects presented the outcomes of the two-year project. Together the pilot projects produced a film that provides a clear picture of the principles of the Family Justice Center.

Tilburg and Venlo in the Netherlands, Antwerp in Belgium, Berlin in Germany, Milan in Italy, and Warsaw in Poland, are the six European cities where over the last two years experiments took place with the Family Justice center model to deal with domestic violence. Victims can enter the building, report to the police and receive support, shelter and police protection, all in one place. In the Netherlands the Veilig Thuis (Safe home) Midden-Brabant (Tilburg) and the Mutsaers Foundation (Venlo) participated in the project.

Client-focused approach

‘The Family Justice Centers were developed in San Diego. They are a huge success in the United States; nowadays there are a hundred of those centers. It works according to the principle of everything-under-one-roof,’ says Bert Groen, international project leader on behalf of Movisie. ‘In most countries the chain of collaboration of the organisations around the victim is quite well organised nowadays, but organisations all work from their own premises and, as a consequence, victims often have to travel from one place to another to receive support and care. Also the professionals in the organisations too often still talked about the victims instead of with the victims. This is not a customer-friendly attitude and often results in victims dropping out or do not even coming in to report. All the facilities, organisations and expertise that are most important for victims are combined in a Family Justice Center. This makes it a very client-focused and multidisciplinary approach, with the victim in central position’, says Groen.

Continue the work

The pilot presentations at the conference made clear that quite a lot of work has been done within the project period. But according to Groen the pilots are only step one. ‘This is only the beginning, the Centers will continue to develop. Because it is important for victims that we now continue our work in Europe with this focus on a multidisciplinary approach of domestic violence, sexual abuse and child abuse.’

For more information please visit the Family Justice Centers Europe website.