New laws to help protect family violence victims passed

• New laws will further protect and empower victims of family violence and hold perpetrators to account
• Ban on reporting cases will be lifted, ensuring perpetrators can no longer hide behind laws intended to protect victims
• Napthine Government building a safer Victoria

Legislation to further protect and empower family violence victims and hold perpetrators to account was passed by the Parliament last night.

Attorney-General Robert Clark said the legislation would allow police to issue family violence safety notices to protect family violence victims at any hour of the day on any day of the week.

“Police will be able to issue family violence safety notices 24 hours a day, seven days a week, instead of only outside of court hours,” Mr Clark said.

“Family violence safety notices not only provide swifter protection for victims but also serve as an application for a family violence intervention order.

“Police can now act on the spot to protect victims whenever and wherever family violence occurs.”

Mr Clark said the reforms also extended the protection provided by family violence safety notices to five working days, rather than 120 hours as at present, giving parties more time to seek advice and make decisions before attending court.

“We have also made changes so courts can provide that an interim intervention order will become a final order after 28 days without the need for a further hearing in cases where the respondent does not wish to contest the order and where both the court and victim consider it appropriate,” Mr Clark said.

“This will avoid unnecessary stress and delay for victims and allow courts to spend more time on those cases where a full hearing is required.”

Mr Clark said the legislation also lifted bans on the ability to report on contraventions of family violence safety notices and intervention orders, so that adult victims can choose to speak out.

The reforms allow adult victims to publish or authorise the media to publish the existence of a family violence safety notice or intervention order together with the identity of any offender who has been charged with or convicted of contravening the notice or order and the identity of the adult victim. Currently, such reports cannot be published without a court order.

“The ban on reporting family violence intervention order matters was designed to protect victims, not provide protection for perpetrators,” Mr Clark said.

“This reform will empower family violence victims to speak out publicly about their experiences without having to seek permission from the court.

“This will allow fuller and more open reporting of family violence – about the extent of the problem and the far reaching impact it has on families – in order to promote public discussion and improve community awareness.”