WIMMERA family violence victims will be better protected and empowered under proposed state legislation.
Attorney-General Robert Clark said the new laws – introduced to State Parliament on Wednesday – would provide greater consistency in the way family violence acts were handled and stop offenders hiding behind laws intended to protect victims.
Under the proposed reforms, police will be able to issue family violence safety notices 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Currently, they can only be issued outside of 9am to 5pm weekdays.
The new laws would also allow interim intervention orders to become final orders without the need for a further hearing.
Grampians Integrated Family Violence Committee regional integration co-ordinator Ross Anders said the proposed reforms moved the committee one step closer to fully opening the door on family violence and its effects.
“The Wimmera has a strong integrated response system involving police and community support services,” he said.
“Any increased legislative support that strengthens judicial mechanisms to improve safety, help alleviate fear and strengthens the net of accountability for perpetrators is welcome.”
The reforms will also allow adult victims to publish – or authorise the media to publish – the existence of a family violence safety notice or intervention order.
This includes identifying the victim and the offender who has been charged with or convicted of contravening a notice or order.
Currently, the identity cannot be published without a court order.
“Lifting restrictions on reporting cases of family violence further highlights its criminality, bringing it in line with other offences,” Mr Anders said.
“It continues the need to bring those who choose to use violence within a family to account for their actions.”
Mr Clark said lifting a ban would empower victims by allowing them to talk publicly about their experiences without having to seek permission from a court.
He said the proposed reforms were all designed to protect victims while bringing perpetrators to account.
“At present, if police are called to a victim’s house between 9am and 5pm weekdays, they have less capacity to protect the victim than outside of those hours,” he said.
“These reforms will put an end to that anomaly, allowing police to provide the same protection for victims at any hour of the day or night.”
The notices will also operate for up to five working days instead of 120 hours.
Mr Clark said allowing a family violence intervention order to be finalised after 28 days unless challenged would mean – in many cases – victims would be spared the extra stress of having to face the perpetrator in court.
Mr Anders encouraged anyone concerned about family violence to speak to someone they trusted.
He said people could also call Grampians Community Health on 5362 1200 or Horsham Police Station on 5382 9200.