DV LAW SET TO BE STRENGTHENED AND PENALTIES INCREASED.
Domestic Violence Law
On 16 August 2016, the Minister for Child Safety and Minister for the Protection of Domestic and Family Violence introduced the Domestic and Family Violence and other Legislation Amendment Bill. When introducing the new Domestic Violence Law the minister noted that during 2016, there had been 9 coronial investigations into the deaths that had occurred in domestic or family relationships in Queensland.
It was said that the purpose of the amendment was to:
- Better protect and support victims of Domestic and Family Violence;
- Hold perpetrators of Domestic and Family Violence accountable; and
- Provide police and the Courts with improved tools to save lives and protect victims.
The Bill enables Queensland to participate in the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme. This scheme has been agreed to by COAG. One of the Key findings from the Coronial Inquest into Luke Batty’s death was the failure by counsellors, police, courts, medical practitioners and others to share information. This Bill seeks to enable the sharing of information between key Government and non-government entities.
Currently the Act provides that DVO made anywhere in Australia or New Zealand are recognised and enforceable in Queensland. Such recognition is provided that the Aggrieved manually registers their order with a Magistrate Court in Queensland. This requirement will be done away with. The proposal is that all jurisdictions will:
- Enjoy automatic recognition of interstate orders;
- Treat the contravention of and interstate DVO as if it were a Queensland DVO;
- Recognise and interstate disqualification such as cancellation of a weapons licence;
- Allow for the exchange of information.
Section 169J of the new domestic violence law will override the existing principles and rights under the Criminal Law (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act 1986. It shall enable information to be shared, notwithstanding the conviction having been spent.
Grounds for Protection Orders
Domestic Violence is defined in Section 8 of the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act. It includes the phrase ‘has committed domestic violence‘. It is believed that this has created a misapprehension that an act of physical violence must occur before a protection order can be obtained. The new domestic violence law clarifies that a Court may issue a DV order on the basis that the victim has been threatened or has a fear that the Respondent will commit an act of domestic violence.
Police Protection Notices
The 2012 amendments to the Act introduced Police Protection Notices. Currently the legislation permits only the alleged victim of Domestic and Family violence to be protected. The Bill expands police powers to include the victim’s children, relatives and other associated people on the Notice.
The new domestic violence law widens the operation of the notice. It expands the conditions which may be included. Presently, police may only include two (2) conditions. They may do so only if, they are at the same location as the Respondent. The current domestic violence law permits conditions:
- that the Respondent not commit acts of Domestic Violence; and
- a 24 hour cool down condition.
Police will be able to include extra conditions. Included is the power to:
- remove alleged offenders from the family home until a Court Hearing.
- prohibit the respondent from having contact with the victim;
- prohibit the respondent from having contact with their children.
Police Protection Orders are enforceable in the same way as Domestic Violence Orders. Respondents will commit an offence if they breach a condition that the Police Officer has told them about. The breach will occur, even if they have not been served with a copy of the Order.
The maximum penalty for breaching a Police Protection Order or Release Condition is to be increased to three years imprisonment or 120 penalty units.
Duration of Court Protection Orders.
Currently, under section 97 of the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act, Protection Orders are made for a period of two years. The Bill expands the operational period by setting an expectation that orders will be for a minimum of five years from the date the PO is made. A Court may only make a PO for a period of less than five (5) years if it is satisfied that there are reasons for doing so.
If the Court does not specify a time frame the PO is held to be in operation for a period of five (5) years from the date the PO is made.
Courts will continue to have to consider what conditions are necessary and desirable to protect the Applicant.
The new domestic violence law will make Queensland objectively the toughest, compared to other jurisdictions, which have the following periods:
- South Australia – Indefinite Order or until discharged, must wait twelve (12) months before application;
- New Zealand – Indefinite Order or until discharged;
- ACT – Two (2) years unless exceptional circumstances require longer period;
- NSW – Court to determine, or one (1) year if no determination;
- Western Australia – Court to determine or two (2) years if no determination;
- Victoria – Court to determine, nil default period;
- Tasmania – Court to determine, nil default period;
- Northern Territory – Court to determine, nil default period.
Compliance with ‘Voluntary’ Intervention Order.
The proposed domestic violence law clarifies the weight that a Court is to attribute to an Offenders participating in a voluntary intervention order. Presently, Courts are required to take into account such participation in deciding whether to make an Order and its duration. Under the amendment the Court will still be entitled to take into account a Respondents compliance with an Intervention program, but the Court must not refuse to make an Order, or vary an Order merely because the Respondent has complied.
Conversely the Court is required to specifically take into account a Respondents failure or non-compliance while on the Intervention program.
The Bill will remove the word ‘voluntary’ from the definition. This will reflect that Intervention Orders are not voluntary and carry the weight of a Court Order.
To read the new Bill click on the attached link Domestic Violence Law 2016 or to discuss how these changes may apply to your situation, contact our lawyers experienced in domestic violence cases today.
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