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The Victorian Behavioural Insights Unit wanted to how people experience the exchange of information in the court system.

  • Research
  • Ethnography

Information sharing in our courts can be complex. Significant amounts of information need to be exchanged amongst many stakeholders.

In a family violence context, this results in victim survivors needing to retell their story over and over again, increasing the risk of re-traumatisation. Improving information sharing was one of the key recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

The Victorian Behavioural Insights (BI) Unit engaged us to better understand the gaps, barriers and opportunities within our Magistrates’ Court by undertaking ethnographic research.

Researcher looking at design artefacts on a wall
Cropped image of researcher looking at design artefacts on a wall

We conducted ethnographic research in Melbourne, Ballarat, Heidelberg and Broadmeadows. In each court, we conducted contextual interviews with staff including the Family Violence Registrar, Applicant Support Practitioners and Respondent Support Practitioners.

We set out to capture the day-to-day reality of how the courts functioned in order to assist policy makers in decision making. We were initially tasked with capturing and sharing raw research data but soon found that the complexity of the situation would mean the data would be impenetrable.

We identified 23 main actors involved in a typical family violence matter. Each of these actors both sought and shared information—often highly technical, mostly through conversation. Each court location functioned very differently due to the variation of the volume and type of family violence matters.

We used information design to distill a large volume of complex interactions down to insights that could be consumed and acted upon.


Policy must be bedded in reality to be effective, it’s great to see the Behavioural Insights Unit taking this approach. Our insights and recommended next steps formed part of a report to inform future policy decisions.