- New family violence restraining orders include revenge porn measures
- Breaches of restraining orders tightened on third strikes
- Up to 20 years jail for intentional foetal homicide and unlawful assault causing death
Landmark laws which form part of the biggest overhaul of family violence legislation in the State's history passed through State Parliament today.
Attorney General Michael Mischin said the Restraining Orders and Related Legislation Amendment (Family Violence) Bill 2016 was a key measure in the Liberal National Government's agenda to better protect victims of family violence.
Mr Mischin said the legislation introduced Family Violence Restraining Orders (FVROs), which would empower the court to restrain a person from distributing or publishing intimate images of a person and from cyber-stalking.
FVROs would also enable the court to order an offender to attend a behavioural change or intervention program to prevent further family violence from occurring.
"FVROs will replace the current system where the victim needs evidence of a specific 'act of abuse' to obtain a restraining order," he said.
"Apart from physical violence, family violence will now include behaviour which 'coerces, controls or causes fear' such as assault, damaging or destroying property, causing a child to be exposed to family violence, killing or injuring the family pet, stalking, or withholding financial support from the victim.
"The legislation also prevents family violence perpetrators facing multiple breaches of a restraining order to 'game the system' in court by repeatedly using remands and adjournments to delay sentencing and avoid jail after 'three strikes.'
"In addition, those who breach the conditions of a FVRO by posting 'revenge porn' on the internet or by using technology to stalk the subject of the order online will face serious criminal charges and could face two years in jail."
The Attorney General said the legislation doubled the 10-year maximum sentence for the offence of unlawful assault causing death, which was introduced to deal with 'one-punch' homicides but had also been useful in family violence cases when murder or manslaughter could not be proven.
Mr Mischin said the laws also offered protection to pregnant women and their unborn child.
"Violence to an unborn child is violence to the mother, and such actions are abhorrent and inexcusable and will not escape punishment," he said.
"While nothing can ever undo the loss of a pregnancy or harm to an unborn child, a person who intentionally causes grievous bodily harm to a pregnant woman which results in the loss of her pregnancy, will face up to 20 years' imprisonment.
"A person who causes grievous bodily harm to a woman's unborn child in other circumstances could be jailed for up to 14 years."
- The laws will allow victims who have a FVRO against a jailed offender to be heard when the offender is considered for release from prison, even if the offender is in jail for offending unrelated to the family violence. Such victims will also be able to make a submission to the Prisoners Review Board about protective parole conditions
- They also clarify that FVROs can, and should, where appropriate, be made for a period of longer than the current default two-year period. Courts will be required to prioritise victim safety, and to have regard to the views of the victim, when determining the duration of an order. In cases where the respondent has been jailed, the duration of the FVRO will be for the period of incarceration plus two years in order to avoid the victim having to re-apply for a FVRO when the respondent is released from prison
Attorney General's office - 6552 5600