Further reforms strengthen responses to family violence in the ACT

Released 16/02/2017

Joint media release: Deputy Chief Minister Yvette Berry and Gordon Ramsay

The ACT Government has introduced reforms to ensure family and personal violence protection order schemes operate more efficiently for victims, families and the courts.

The Family and Personal Violence Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 further strengthens the ACT Government’s response to family violence in the Territory.

Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Yvette Berry said the amendments represent a best practice approach to responding to domestic, family, and sexual violence in the Territory’s legal system.

“As a Government committed to making our community safer, we are continually evaluating the effectiveness of services to ensure they meet the needs of those experiencing, or affected by domestic and family violence in the ACT,” Ms Berry said.

Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said the Family and Personal Violence Legislation Amendment Bill 2017introduces amendments to improve procedures and processes to ensure the family and personal violence protection order schemes operate as efficiently as possible.

“The Bill also includes greater protections for children in protection order matters by limiting the circumstances in which they can give evidence,” Mr Ramsay said.

“The Bill requires parents or guardians to be provided with a copy of any documentation that is served on their child and prevents children from being served with protection order documents at or near their school.”

The Family Violence Act 2016 will implement 22 recommendations made by the Australian and New South Wales Law Reform Commissions in their report Family Violence – a National Legal Response [Report 114] including:

  • introducing a preamble that speaks to the nature and features of family violence;
  • expanding the definition of family violence to expressly include a broader range of behaviours including emotional and psychological abuse and economic abuse;
  • amending the grounds for making a final order, and after-hours order, to improve access to the protection order scheme in the ACT;
  • introducing provisions to prevent self-represented respondents from cross-examining applicants themselves;
  • making amendments to allow the complainant’s pre-recorded evidence to be tendered as evidence-in-chief in all sexual assault matters; and
  • implementing the provisions to support a scheme for national recognition of family violence orders as agreed by the Council of Australian Governments.

The amendments to the national family violence order provisions introduced by the Bill also support the Government’s response to family violence by allowing the Attorney-General to set a commencement date for those provisions.  That will allow for the ACT to coordinate with other jurisdictions in implementing national recognition of family violence orders.

“The ACT Government is committed to continuing to work towards eliminating family violence in the Territory,” Mr Ramsay said.

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/;
  • 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

Media Contacts

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0422 772 215


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