Proposed amendments to restraining orders legislation, which will be debated in the Upper House today, are a welcome modernisation toward breaking the cycle of family and domestic violence, but more work needs to be done, Greens spokesperson for health Lynn MacLaren MLC has said.
Ms MacLaren said she welcomed the broadening of definitions, as part of the Restraining Orders and Related Legislation Amendment (Family Violence) Bill 2016, which now includes provisions for cyber-stalking and ‘revenge porn.’
However, she said she remained concerned about consequences for the repeated breaching of VROs and long delays for prosecutions.
“As part of my preparation for today’s debate, I have worked closely with a courageous woman who escaped a violent relationship in 2015.
“In the aftermath, while her ex-partner breached his VRO on 90 occasions, he was only charged with 28 breaches.
“He negotiated early guilty pleas for 13 breaches and received a suspended sentence.
“During her time in refuges, my constituent discovered that her experiences were not isolated examples.
“While the current legislation allows for sentences of up $6 000 and/or up to two years in prison, I have been advised it is routine for sentences to be inconsistent and lenient.”
Ms MacLaren said another significant problem lay in the very long time periods between a police officer’s writing up of a DV case and its getting to court.
“There are still unacceptable delays in the court system, which allow witnesses to forget, CCTV footage to be wiped, and, of course, compound the trauma experienced by survivors,” Ms MacLaren said.