Partner violence spurs changes to law

Queensland’s new Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act includes a revised definition of domestic violence and changes to police powers.

The new law came into effect this month.

Ipswich Women’s Centre Against Domestic Violence program co-ordinator Rebecca Shearman said the 1989 Act was an important milestone but the new legislation took protection a step further.

“The Act focuses on partner behaviour rather than isolated incidents – which better reflects the nature of domestic violence,” Ms Shearman said.

“There are clearer mandates around accountability, and magistrates are required to consider the protection of children.”

Legal Aid Queensland principal lawyer Tracey de Simone said Queensland’s new Act would include specific considerations for magistrates in naming children on protection orders which would work well with the federal Family Law Act.

“There has been some difficulty in the past as some magistrates have been unwilling to involve children in domestic violence protection orders,” Ms de Simone said.

“Now it’s clear that seeing domestic violence or its aftermath is detrimental to [children’s] development.”

The Act outlines the obligation of police to investigate suspected domestic violence as well as to investigate any criminal offence, and the actions which may follow investigation.

Spokesperson for the Queensland Police Service Domestic and Family Violence Unit, Acting Inspector Leonie Fordyce, said the most significant change in response is the introduction of short-term police protection notices.

She said the two benefits of a notice were immediate protection until the next court date, and holding the perpetrator accountable for his actions.

“The biggest benefit is maintaining protection for those affected with domestic violence,” she said.

Under the current act, the aggrieved may not have immediate protection if the local magistrate’s court sits weekly or monthly.

The short-term police protection notices include the option of a 24 hour ‘cool down’ period, and will act as an application to the court for a protection order.

Many services provide support or assistance for domestic and family violence:

Womensline – 1800 811 811

Mensline – 1800 600 636

Kids Help Line – 1800 55 1800

Legal Aid Queensland: 1300 65 11 88 — for legal information and referrals (cost of a local call in Australia)

If you are in immediate danger call Police – 000

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