Stronger Laws to Combat Domestic Violence
No doubt Australian of the Year Rosie Batty’s high-profile campaigning for action on domestic violence has had a big impact on legislators in this State. There have been some very important changes to domestic violence legislation recently and the reforms are aimed at strengthening the response to domestic violence in Queensland.
New and harsher maximum penalties now apply to breaches of Domestic Violence Orders and even first time offenders can face up to three years in jail. Further breaches carry a possible five year prison term for repeat offenders.
A breach of a Domestic Violence Order may also result in a special notation on the offender’s criminal history that reflects the nature of the offence as domestic violence. This is designed to hold people who commit acts of domestic violence to account for their actions and to send a clear message that the community will not tolerate this kind of behaviour.
Notations on criminal histories will also assist Magistrates and Judges to identify potential problem offenders in the early stages and take steps to protect their victims.
The victims of domestic violence are finally afforded important ‘special witness’ status which means they may no longer be subjected to cross-examination by their alleged offenders in Court, or even have to sit in the same courtroom as their abuser. Advocacy groups have long lobbied for this amendment and it has received wide approval from women’s domestic violence support groups.
The changes will also see the establishment of the Family and Domestic Violence Death and Advisory Review Board, which is an independent body charged with reporting on gaps in established support systems, and thus preventing further deaths due to domestic violence. The systems in place to support victims of domestic abuse and their families will be scrutinised by the Board, and the Board reports their findings directly to Government as part of the State Government’s wide-ranging response to this problem.
The Minister for Women, Shannon Fentiman, is also challenging work colleagues of victims to offer their support. Many victims of domestic violence are harassed at work and the Minister reasons that businesses that offer flexibility for victims is an economy. Absenteeism and replacing employees is an expensive problem for employers, and recognising the signs of domestic violence and offering support to the employee will save money for the business, and in the long-run, the community.
If you are the victim of domestic violence, and you wish to apply for a Domestic Violence Protection Order, we can assist you. We have solicitors available every day to appear in Court with you and help you through the difficult and intimidating process. We can appear in all city and local Magistrates Courts. We can help you make an Application, attend mentions and negotiate Orders by consent, or represent you at a full hearing for contested matters. Our solicitors are experienced and understanding and we are here to help you get the protection you need.