Victoria Beefs Up Family Violence Protection

By Andrew Heaton

(image via Balot Reilly Lawyers)

Processes for serving family violence intervention orders will be simplified whilst new measures will prevent abuse of intervention processes and protections for children who are subject to family violence will be increased in Victoria under new legislation introduced into Parliament in that state.

Introduced into Parliament on Tuesday, the Family Violence Protection Amendment Bill 2017 responds to eleven of the 227 recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence.

Under the new law:

  • family violence protection orders will no longer need to be served in person and will be able to be served by post or email
  • The orders will become immediately enforceable where a magistrate had provided an explanation about what the order means at a time when the respondent had been present in court.
  • Courts will have the power to strike out appeals to intervention orders where the respondent fails to attend hearings – a move designed to help prevent perpetrators from using delaying strategies such as failing to attend court sessions.
  • Provisions under the Criminal Procedure Act 2009will be expanded to allow children and people with a cognitive impairment to give pre-recorded evidence in proceedings for family violence offences – a move designed to help to reduce the trauma experienced by victims who have previously had to give their evidence in front of their abuser.
  • The jurisdiction of the Koori County and Magistrates’ Courts will be expanded to deal with breaches of family violence safety notices and prevention orders.
  • A new unit will be established under the Coroners Act 2008 to assist coronial investigations and provide evidence based research into family violence deaths.

Attorney-General Martin Pakula said the new laws represent part of the government’s strategy to reduce family violence.

“Our changes will help to better protect victims, hold perpetrators to account and help to change community attitudes around violence against women and children,” Pakula said in a statement.

The changes represent part of the government’s response to the recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Family Violence, which found that whilst Victoria had a strong foundation upon which to build its efforts to protect victims, the system was suffering from limitations including inadequate resources at every level.

Whilst the legislation deals only with eleven recommendations, the government says it is working on the remainder of these.

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