The Domestic and Family Violence Protection and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2016 (“the Act”) was passed in Queensland Parliament on 11 October 2016 and has introduced a number of significant changes to domestic violence legislation.
The purpose of these changes was to afford victims of domestic and family violence better protection and hold perpetrators to account.
Notable changes include:
- The ability to apply for more tailored conditions in Domestic Violence Orders;
- The increase in duration of protection orders;
- The expansion of the operation of Police Protection Notices; and
- The implementation of harsher penalties on perpetrators of domestic and family violence.
The ability to apply more tailored conditions in Domestic Violence Orders
A Domestic Violence Order (“DVO”), otherwise known as a protection order, is an order made by the Court to protect a person from further domestic violence. All DVOs include the standard conditions that the perpetrator be of good behaviour and not commit domestic violence. The Court has discretion to impose other conditions that are necessary and desirable to protect victims from domestic violence.
The recent amendments mean that the Court is now required to consider whether further and more specific conditions be included and what conditions may be necessary and desirable for the protection of victims. Other conditions may include prohibiting the perpetrator from: contacting the victim; staying at a home shared with the victim; approaching within a certain distance of the victim’s home or workplace; or going near a child’s school.
The increase in duration of protection orders
A protection order could previously only last for up to two years unless the Court was satisfied there were special reasons for imposing a longer duration.
The recent amendments mean that from 30 May 2017 the Court has discretion to determine the appropriate duration of a protection order. The paramount consideration in determining the appropriate duration is what is necessary and desirable to protect a victim from domestic and family violence. However, the duration must be for a period of five years unless the Court is satisfied there are reasons for making a shorter order.
This amendment seeks to ensure that those who fear or experience domestic and family violence receive the long-term protection they require.
For more information on DVOs, see the Queensland Courts website.
The expansion of the operation of Police Protection Notices
A Police Protection Notice (“PPN”) could previously only be issued where a police officer was at the same location as the perpetrator and reasonably believed that he or she committed domestic violence and a PPN was necessary or desirable to protect the victim. A PPN had to contain the standard conditions that the perpetrator be of good behaviour and not commit domestic violence. The protection afforded by a PPN extended to the victim only, and not to his or her children, relatives or associates.
The concern was raised that the restrictions on the use of PPNs and the limited protection afforded by them meant that police officers were discouraged from issuing them. The amendments to the Act address this concern.
The amendments remove the requirement that a police officer be in the same location as the perpetrator to issue a PPN. The police officer must simply have made a reasonable attempt to locate and tell the perpetrator about the existence of the PPN and the conditions contained in it. The amendments also mean that the police may include additional conditions on PPNs. The range of people able to be protected has also been expanded. Police officers are empowered to name a child, relative or an associate of a victim in a PPN if the officer reasonably believes that naming them is necessary or desirable to protect them from domestic violence.
The implementation of harsher penalties on perpetrators
The maximum penalty for first time and subsequent breaches of DVOs in Queensland was one and two years imprisonment respectively. The recent amendments mean that this penalty has increased to three and five years imprisonment respectively, effective from 22 October 2015.
The recent amendments also mean that from 30 May 2017 the penalties for a contravention of a PPN have been increased from a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment to a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment.
These changes reinforce the fact that domestic violence will not be tolerated in our community and perpetrators will be held accountable for their behaviour.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, we would encourage you to contact the police.
If you still have questions regarding Domestic Violence changes, our Brisbane Family Lawyers can help. Call our Business Development Officers on 07 3252 0011 or email us today to make an appointment.