Joint media release: Yvette Berry MLA and Gordon Ramsay MLA
From today ACT law now has a broader definition of family violence. People who have been subjected to violence can seek greater protection with the commencement of the Family Violence Act 2016 and the Personal Violence Act 2016.
Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Yvette Berry said the ACT’s justice response to family violence is in step with other jurisdictions and recognised as best practice.
“Responses to domestic and family violence have traditionally focused on physical forms of violence,” Ms Berry said.
“Under the new laws, the definition ‘domestic violence’ has been replaced with ‘family violence’ and says to our community that violence is unacceptable in any form in the ACT.
“Family violence recognises a broader range of behaviours including sexual violence or abuse and sexually coercive behaviour, emotional abuse, financial abuse, threatening behavior, and behavior that causes a child to hear, witness or otherwise be exposed to family violence.
“Victims can now seek a Family Violence Order (FVO) for violence that is not physical but presents a real threat to their safety in relationships. We know that for many women and men it is controlling and coercive behaviours which have the greatest impact on a person’s safety and well-being.
“While gender-based violence, including domestic violence, cannot be eliminated through law reform alone, legal measures are an essential component of any response to domestic and family violence.
“Factors that now indicate whether there is a family-like relationship include the extent to which each person is personally or financially dependent on the other, the length of relationship or frequency of contact.
“Strengthening this definition strengthens the protections for victims such as a person with a disability who has been abused by their carer.” said Ms Berry.
Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said greater protections for victims in court would encourage people affected by domestic and family violence, including sexual assault, to seek justice.
“The legal process can be an emotional and difficult time for victims of family, domestic or sexual violence, and the government is continuing to implement reform to ensure they are better protected,” Mr Ramsay said.
“A person seeking protection cannot be personally cross-examined by the person against whom they have sought a protection order. Instead the court must appoint someone else to ask questions in a cross-examination, which will prevent vulnerable people from being intimidated during the court process.”
The new laws have also broadened the definition of relationship to include all persons who have a ‘family-like relationship’ and anyone who could reasonably be considered to be, or have been, a relative of the person.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic or family violence, including sexual assault, you there are a number of programs and organisations that can support you:
- The Domestic Violence Crisis Service, which aims to promote the safety of people subjected to domestic violence, provide crisis intervention and address the problem of violence and abuse in relationships - (02) 6280 0900 – www.dvcs.org.au/;
- Legal Aid (ACT Domestic Violence and Protection Order Unit), which provides advice on the process for applying for an order, assistance with submitting an application and representation in court - (02) 6243 3411 – www.legalaidact.org.au;
- Canberra Rape Crisis Centre, which provides a crisis counselling line, Indigenous community support, counselling to victims and their families, and community education programs - (02) 6247 2525 – http://crcc.org.au/;
- Beryl Women Inc, which provides supported crisis accommodation to women with dependent children who are escaping domestic and family violence - (02) 6230 6900 - http://www.beryl.org.au/;
- Toora Women inc, which provides domestic violence accommodation and outreach support, counseling for victims of violence and support for women with drug and alcohol issues – 6247 2399 – www.toora.org.au;
- EveryMan Australia, which provides counselling, crisis support, outreach services, information and referral to men with complex needs, including family violence - (02) 6230 6999 - http://www.everyman.org.au/; and
- Victim Support ACT, which provides counselling, court support and advocacy services to victims of crime, including family violence - 1800 822 72 – http://www.victimsupport.act.gov.au/.
- Statement ends -
Section: Yvette Berry, MLA | Media Releases
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