Tasmanian Times

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Legal responses to family violence

The Tasmanian Liberal Government considers taking action on family violence a top priority. We are taking decisive action with a comprehensive whole of government plan to drive lasting change, because everyone has the right to live their life free from violence.

Strengthening the legal responses to family violence is an essential part of our ‘Safe Homes, Safe Families’ action plan.

We will invest over $4 million to hold perpetrators to account and better support victims through the legal system.

The key focuses of this investment are:

• Ensuring victims of family violence are well supported and have access to legal advice and representation.

• Holding offenders to account and making sure there are adequate and appropriate consequences for their behaviour.

• Early intervention to stop men from offending or re-offending.

We are committing $1.2 million to provide additional resources to better meet the complex legal needs of people affected by family violence.

There will be $2 million to develop effective perpetrator programs for low to medium risk offenders, based on national and international best practice.

This work will target offenders and encourage them to participate in behaviour-change programs to address the underlying causes of their violence, enable behaviour change, and decrease the occurrence of repeat offenders.

Initial work will begin on developing a new Criminal Justice Information System to ensure agencies have access to all the relevant information to assist the prevention of family violence, to support victims and to hold perpetrators to accounts.

$350,000 has also been committed to improve the data collection system used by all Safe at Home partners to ensure effective management of family violence cases.

A pilot program will be run to extend forensic medical examination to include victims of family violence. This will improve the documentation of injuries consistent with family violence and allow expert medico-legal reports to be used in court, which will enhance the evidence base for prosecution.

As previously identified, the Liberal Government will continue to work closely with stakeholders and the legal sector to investigate ways to improve court processes and sentencing options.

Appropriate responses could include creating a separate family violence offence or, on order of the court, recording that an offence occurs in the context of a family violence situation.

We will draw on advice from a wide range of work in this area including the Sentencing Advisory Council report on family violence which is expected to be released in the fourth quarter of 2015.

A number of amendments to the Family Violence Act 2004 will be introduced this year as a first step to updating and improving the Act.

These legal responses form a crucial part of the Safe Homes, Safe Families action plan.

Safe Homes, Safe Families: Tasmania’s Family Violence Action Plan 2015-2020 is available online at www.dpac.tas.gov.au/safehomessafefamilies.

If you or someone you know is impacted by family violence or sexual assault, call the Safe at Home Family Violence Response and Referral Line on 1800 633 937 or visit www.1800respect.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.
Vanessa Goodwin, Attorney-General

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