Government inaction on family violence measures

Hansard: 21 August 2007 ASSEMBLY

Family violence: government initiative

Mr CLARK (Box Hill) — Despite promises that it will be decisive, the Brumby government has delayed until later this year acting on recommendations given to it by the Victorian Law Reform Commission in December 2005 to provide better protection for domestic violence victims. Instead the Attorney-General has issued proposals for community consultation and will not decide until later this year about measures such as making it easier for victims of family violence to remain in the family home, avoiding the cross-examination of victims in person by alleged perpetrators, extending the definition of ‘family violence’ and broadening the scope of the family members covered. Indeed the legislative proposals that the Attorney-General claimed to have issued last week still have not been posted on the Department of Justice’s family violence webpage.

These delays come despite the fact that the government has had more than 19 months to consider the recommendations, issue proposals and undertake any necessary consultation. In the meantime, on the government’s own figures an estimated 150 000 domestic violence victims a year, many of them women and children, are suffering without improved protection. It is clear that our so-called decisive Premier and his deputy are continuing the Labor government’s habit of making announcements about looking into matters rather than actually making decisions.

One of the measures reannounced last week was an initiative put forward by the Liberal Party in 2003 to allow interim intervention orders, applying for up to 72 hours, to be obtained on the spot by police. This would remove the alleged offender from the home immediately to protect the victim or other family members from further harm. However, the government is not going to introduce its safety notices until mid-2008, and then only under a trial program.

The Liberal Party would have been happy to debate and pass such legislation this week, and we remain happy to debate and pass such legislation when Parliament next sits.