(Current as of 22 September 2017)
The primary legislation in Queensland in relation to domestic violence is the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) (“the Act”). The main objective of this legislation is to maximise the safety, protection and well being of people who fear or experience domestic violence, and to ensure perpetrators are held accountable for their actions. Recently, this legislation has been in the spotlight for reform to ensure better legislative measures are in place to protect victims.
In 2015, the Not Now, Not Ever Report made a number of recommendations to review and amend the legislation governing domestic violence, to ensure the main objective of the Act is executed. A number of key legislative amendments have been passed by Queensland Parliament as a result of this report. The recommendations in the report include:
Changes to better protect victims and their families
- Better police protection – Effective 30 May 2017 –Scope of police protection notices have been expanded in order to allow police to better protect a victim, their children and relatives.
- More tailored domestic violence orders – Effective 30 May 2017 –Duration of domestic violence orders (DVOs) have been increased to a minimum of five years unless the court is reasonably satisfied a shorter order is appropriate.
Changes to hold perpetrators to account for their actions
- Harsher penalties for Domestic Violence Orders (DVO) breaches –Effective 22 October 2015 – maximum penalties for first-time and subsequent breaches of DVOs increased to 3 and 5 years’ imprisonment.
- Harsher penalties for police protection notice and release condition breaches –Effective 30 May 2017 –release conditions are increased to three years’ imprisonment for breaches of police protection notices.
Changes to support improved service responses and other systemic reforms
- Information sharing – Effective 30 May 2017 –information sharing framework will be implemented between key government and non-government entities for better risk management of serious domestic and family violence threats.
- Police can refer people to specialist service providers –Effective 30 May 2017, police can refer victims and perpetrators to specialist domestic and family violence service providers, without consent, if there has been a threat to a person’s life, health or safety or if the person has committed domestic violence.
- National Domestic Violence Order Scheme -provides for the automatic mutual recognition of Domestic Violence Orders across Australia
Please refer to our Changes to Domestic Violence Article which goes into further detail about these recommendations.
Following the making of the Not Now, Not Ever Report published in 2015, the Queensland Government have taken swift action to amend Queensland Laws to ensure we have a strong legislative framework. Recently, further amended acts and regulations have been introduced or proprosed to improve domestic violence legislation in line with this report.
The Domestic and Family Violence Protection (Interstate and Foreign Orders) Amendment Regulation 2017 which will commence on 25 November 2017 will amend the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Regulation 2012 (Qld).This will allow for interstate domestic violence orders (DVO’s) to be automatically recognised in Queensland. Essentially, this means DVO’s issued in one state will be recognised by all other Australian jurisdictions. Additionally, New Zealand protection orders will also be recognised in Queensland, which will give victims of domestic and family violence additional protections and safeguards.
Public consultation has also been called for Family Law Amendment (Family Violence and Cross-examination of Parties) Bill 2017. Submissions for draft legislation have been called. One key area of reform identified was whether or not victims need better protection during court proceedings by providing for an automatic ban of victims of domestic and family violence being cross-examined by alleged perpetrators in court. Whilst the proposed legislation is still in the process of being deliberated, we will provide further updates on this bill as they arrive.
[xyz-ihs snippet=”Call-Us—Australia”]Other relevant and important contact details for Domestic and Family Violence Support are as follows:
- For emergencies, Police – 000;
- DVConnect Womensline – 1800 811 811 (24 hours, 7 days a week (Queensland));
- DVConnect Mensline – 1800 600 636 (9am to 12 midnight, 7 days a week (Queensland)); and
- Kids Helpline – 1800 551 800 (24 hours, 7 days a week (Australia)).