Longer, faster domestic violence orders help abuse victims
THE next stage of Queensland's push to end family abuse begins this week, with the State Government preparing to introduce legislation to Parliament that will make the domestic violence order process easier on victims and police.
The government will also roll out a "comprehensive information sharing framework" so all of police, courts and domestic and family violence services can better assess the risks facing victims and manage those risks for safer outcomes.
But the LNP opposition has questioned the use of DVOs when about 16,000 were breached in the 2014-15 year.
Drawing on recommendations made in last year's Not Now, Not Ever report, the new laws mean courts will soon automatically issue five-year DVOs unless there is a pressing reason for them to be shorter.
Currently, victims must apply for DVOs every two years.
The orders will be tailored to each victim's needs and will take into account existing family law orders regarding children.
It will also be much easier and faster for police to take out DVOs on behalf of victims.
Frontline workers believe Australia's domestic violence epidemic has killed at least 31 people nationwide since the start of 2016.
Nine of those deaths were in Queensland.
"These tragedies are totally unacceptable," said Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Minister Shannon Fentiman.
"They are a reminder that we must do more if we are to keep women and children in Queensland safe from domestic violence."
Ms Fentiman said the information sharing plan was a vital move in the war on domestic violence.
"Importantly, these amendments will allow information to be shared between agencies to help manage and mitigate any risk a victim may face as a result of domestic violence," she said.
Shadow Minister for Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Ros Bates said more needed to be done to enforce DVOs.
"Domestic violence orders are not worth the paper they are written on if the consequences of breaching these orders is not enforced," she said.
"In 2014-15 we saw more than 16,600 breaches of domestic violence orders recorded by police, an increase of 14% from the previous year.
"This is a clear indication that those who breach an order are often getting away with a slap on the wrist and courts are struggling.
"The Government has had this report for more than 12 months, so you have to question why it has taken this long to see these changes brought forward."
The Domestic and Family Violence Protection and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 will be introduced to Parliament this week.
WHAT THE CHANGES MEAN
- Courts will automatically give five-year domestic violence orders to family abuse victims. The orders currently stand at two years.
- The DVOs can be shortened if there is a specific reason to do so.
- Courts must consider tailoring each DVO to the specific needs of the victim, including existing family law orders regarding children.
- It will be easier and faster for police to take out DVOs on behalf of victims.
- The Queensland Government will roll out an information sharing framework so all of the state's domestic and family violence services can better assess and manage risks facing victims.
For 24-hour support phone Queensland's DVConnect on 1800 811 811 or MensLine on 1800 600 636, NSW's Domestic Violence Line on 1800 656 463 or the national hotline 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).
- ARM NEWSDESK