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(VIC) Shake-up of family violence law / Law hits ALLEGED wife bashers

If it were only proven "violent partners" this wouldn't be such a concern.  However, the reality is that such catagorisation will occur on the basis of allegations, without evidence or proof, and on that basis men and fathers will be evicted from their families and their homes.
Herald Sun News story
13 August 2007

Law hits wife bashers
By Ashley Gardiner

Violent partners would be banned from their homes under sweeping changes to family violence laws, to be proposed by Attorney-General Rob Hulls today.

A new Family Violence Act will be aimed at keeping victims of abuse at home with children.

Under the proposal, courts would have the power to strike the names of violent partners from rental leases and transfer them into the names of victims. Alleged offenders would also be barred from cross-examining victims in court.

Attorney-General, Rob Hulls said
Family violence had for too long been seen as a domestic matter, It's not. It's a crime. About 30,000 family violence cases were reported to police every year, but as many as 120,000 cases were not reported.

I would hope to see an increase in reports to police as a result of these proposed reforms. These changes will help ensure that victims of violence are not further distressed by being forced from their homes, often uprooting their children from their friends and schools and changes to the way police deal with family violence have already seen an increase in family violence reports.

Intervention orders were up by 81 per cent and criminal charges up by 73 per cent.
Since the introduction of detention powers last year, police have locked up 850 family violence offenders for up to 10 hours.

Other proposals being considered by the State Government include:

EXTENDING the definition of family violence to include emotional and financial abuse.

WIDENING the law to include abusive carers who are not family members.

ALLOWING courts to consider hearsay evidence when making orders.

DECLARING perpetrators who use the courts to harass their victims as vexatious litigants.

Mr Hulls will today release a discussion paper on the proposed laws, which were in response to a Law Reform Commission report last year.
Attorney-General, Rob Hulls said
Family violence affected one in five Victorian women. It is the leading contributor to death, disability and illness in women under 45. The purpose (of the new Family Violence Act) is to support victims and family to stay in the home. The presumption is that the perpetrator is to be excluded from the home.
Victoria Legal Aid will be given $3.7 million over four years to represent alleged offenders to prevent them from cross-examining victims in court.

The State Government has already announced plans to give police unprecedented powers to issue on-the-spot intervention orders.

The family violence safety notices would give police the power to remove violent family members outside court hours.

Once a notice was issued, police could remove offenders from the home and stop them making contact before the matter goes to court.

After Parliament passes the legislation, a 12-month trial of the notices will begin mid-next year.

The State Government will consult family violence service providers, community organisations and others with a view to introducing legislation before the end of this year.

The Age
13 August 2007

Shake-up of family violence law
By Leonie Wood

Proposed family violence laws would allow authorities to remove offenders from the home and make it easier for victims to stay.

The Family Violence Act, which the Brumby Government hopes to have in place in the first half of next year, would widen the definition of family violence to include psychological and economic abuse.

It would also bar alleged offenders on criminal charges but without a lawyer from directly cross-examining victims. In applications for intervention orders, victims could refuse to be cross-examined by the perpetrators.

The proposals come almost five years after the Government asked the Victorian Law Reform Commission to review laws and procedures related to family violence and 17 months after the commission's final report was tabled in Parliament.

And they come a month after the Government revealed that from next year police ranked sergeant or higher would have powers to immediately remove offenders from the family home.

The Deputy Premier and Attorney-General, Rob Hulls said
The proposed changes would emphasise that family violence was a serious crime and offenders must be held accountable.

Such violence was the leading cause of death and disability for women aged under 45, but until a few years ago physical and emotional abuse at home was not treated seriously
Mr Hulls hoped the combination of new legislation and police protocols would encourage many more victims to report incidents.

Attorney-General, Rob Hulls said
It is absolutely important that we do everything that we can to encourage women to speak out
Victoria has two magistrates courts - at Heidelberg and Ballarat - that for two years have conducted pilot programs to deal with the problem. In the past 12 months they ordered 350 men to undergo counselling.

Attorney-General, Rob Hulls said
The new laws would require extra training of magistrates, prosecutors and police. The Government would set aside $3.7 million over four years for legal aid for alleged offenders, a move designed to ensure they did not cross-examine victims themselves.

Normal rules of evidence would be relaxed to allow the use of hearsay in the court if appropriate, he said. And the chief magistrate could cut off efforts by offenders to harass victims through the court system by declaring the person a vexatious litigant.
The proposed laws are expected to be introduced into Parliament this year.

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