New restraining orders for victims of family violence
44,947 incidents of family violence reported to WA Police in 2012
The State Government will overhaul the Restraining Orders Act 1997 as part of a comprehensive reform package to better protect family violence victims in Western Australia.
Attorney General Michael Mischin said the changes formed a key part of the Government's response to the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia's (LRC) report on 'Enhancing Laws Concerning Family and Domestic Violence.'
Announcing the first part of the package on International Women's Day today, Mr Mischin said the Government would introduce specific Family Violence Restraining Orders (FVROs).
"Currently under the Restraining Orders Act 1997, a person can apply for a Violence Restraining Order (VRO) for family violence or other non-family personal violence situations or a Misconduct Restraining Order to restrain the misconduct of a non-family member," he said.
"The new FVROs will be a distinct third category of orders and will adopt a more modern definition of family violence, moving away from the concept of a victim having to provide evidence of an act of abuse towards behaviour intended to intimidate, coerce or control.
"The grounds for an order will be redefined by removing the broad discretion of magistrates in deciding whether to grant one, so that if conditions for making the order are met, then an order should be made, unless there are special circumstances.
"Courts will be required to adopt a risk-management approach to granting FVROs, considering information from WA Police, the Department for Child Protection and Family Support and other agencies about risks to the victim, and can order conditions specifically tailored for family violence, such as mandatory counselling."
Police Minister Liza Harvey said reform was needed because the number of reported incidents of family violence in WA had risen dramatically in recent years.
"There were 44,947 incidents of family violence reported to police in 2012, which is two and a half times the level in 2004," Mrs Harvey said.
"Family violence is unfortunately core business for police and the courts, with applications for restraining orders being made in 31 per cent of cases recorded by police in 2012.
"This is in addition to criminal matters such as breaches of VROs, bail applications and trials for serious offences.
"Victims have said they want more support under the law. Today's announcement will go a long way towards achieving this and will better protect women and their children."
The Attorney General said further reforms would be announced later in the year.
The LRC report contained 73 recommendations, 32 of which related to new separate restraining orders for family and domestic violence victims
Work is under way to address the other recommendations relating to provision of services
Attorney General's office - 6552 5600
Police Minister's office - 6552 5900