COMMENT | We support the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Bill 2017, which was tabled in Parliament on Monday. Moving forward, we must ensure enforcement is effective and further improve the law.
The amendments to the Domestic Violence Act 1994 (DVA) are positive. The amendments will:
- Prevent gaps in protection. An interim protection order (IPO) protects survivors during police investigation, while a protection order (PO) protects survivors during criminal court proceedings. The amendments specify when an IPO ends, and when a PO begins, so survivors won’t be left without protection between police investigations and court proceeding.
- Strengthen the IPO to prevent further abuse. With the amendments, an IPO can include additional safeguards, like prohibiting an abuser from coming near a survivor - so police can intervene before further violence happens.
- Expand the definition of domestic violence. The expanded definition will protect against: misappropriating property, which causes distress; threatening, which causes distress or fear for safety; or communicating (including electronically) with the survivor to insult modesty.
- Improve rehabilitation provisions. A court can no longer order a survivor to attend reconciliatory counselling with the abuser, which puts the survivor in danger. Instead, the abuser can be ordered to complete a rehabilitation programme...