Wednesday, 1 April 2009

South Australia to amend DV laws

  • South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson said a Bill is now being drafted to strengthen the ability of police and courts to prevent and stamp out family abuse.

    “Every week in South Australia, victims turn to the police or our courts to help stop violence in their own homes,” Mr Atkinson said.

    “These changes will ensure a swift and effective response by our justice system.

    “Together with sweeping changes to rape and sexual assault laws, this new Bill will turn the table on those who use violence to control and dominate other family members,” he said.

    Minister for the Status of Women Gail Gago said the changes were an integral part of the Government’s commitment to women’s safety in South Australia.

    “Family violence is a serious crime committed by partners, relatives and other family members - those who are supposed to love and care,” she said.

    “While most domestic violence incidents are perpetrated by men on women, these laws will ensure that neither gender can use violence, or the threat of violence, to control another person.”

    Family violence leads to more death, disability and illness in South Australian women aged 15 to 44 years than any other factor.

    The changes to the legislation follow an independent review of the current laws by highly Maurine Pyke Q.C.

    Mr Atkinson said the new laws will improve the system of restraint and intervention for domestic violence and give police more power to intervene at the time of an incident.

    “In many cases, it is the victim and children who have to leave the family home to escape violence,” he said.

    “The new laws will make it easier for victims to remain in the family home and make the perpetrator leave. They will also ensure police can impose restraint conditions quickly, without having to wait for a court listing."

The Bill will also:

  • Stop alleged perpetrators from personally cross-examining their victims in court;
  • Cover a wider range of relationships including a relationship between a carer and a disabled or ill person;
  • Increase penalties for breaching an order; and
  • Broaden the definition of family violence so that it covers physical, sexual, economic and emotional abuse.

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