In the interest of public safety, domestic violence laws are changing to remove drunkenness as a defence to breaching personal protection injunctions. Perpetrators will face a jail sentence of up to two years and up to $25,000 in fines.
The Turnbull government has introduced these changes as a declaration of Australia’s intolerance to such aggressive and unacceptable behaviours, with stricter penalties aimed at deterring violent men.
Self-inflicted drunkenness appears as a common contributor to domestic violence issues, however it will no longer be considered as a defence to the crime.
The legislative amendments were encouraged by the Australian Law Reform Commission. The aggregated support of the Law Council of Australia represented a large desire and need for the changes.
The government is acting in the interest of vulnerable families, who have often been forced to bypass Australian court systems, due to the weaker stance of the law.
The crackdown on domestic violence means police no longer require a warrant for arrest. Therefore, breaches of injunctions can be handled quickly and efficiently, to the benefit of the family’s safety.
Domestic violence victims will see further benefits from the recent legislative changes, in that they will not be held liable for any part they may have played in triggering former partners to breach an injunction.
The Labor opposition has also announced that it will legislate the provision of 10 days’ paid domestic violence leave, as an addition to the National Employment Standards. This provides further monetary cover for victims and legal incentive to properly pursue domestic violence issues.
Parental Management Hearings
In addition, disputes conjured from child custody decisions have a new avenue for being resolved. Parents will have access to a trial alternative dispute resolution scheme from next year, which circumvents formal court proceedings.
Located in Parramatta, the trial of Parental Management Hearings represents a $12.7 million investment by the government.
The system will remove lawyers from the equation. Instead, psychologists, social workers and family violence specialists will form an expert panel to hear cases and make binding decisions regarding custody.
Given the time, expenses and formalities that are involved in court procedures, this alternative process may present a preferable option for many people.
Alternative dispute resolution systems also have a very positive impact on the overburdened Family Court. Limiting people’s contact with official justice systems is always encouraged, due to personal, financial and state benefits.
The government has been diligent in addressing an area of law that was previously insufficient in protecting society. With these changes, domestic violence victims will hopefully be more secure and perpetrators more appropriately reprimanded.
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