Deputy Premier and Attorney-General Rob Hulls said the Family Violence Protection Act 2008, which comes into force tomorrow, would make perpetrators more accountable for their actions as well as offering increased protection for women and children experiencing family violence.
The public awareness campaign, using the tagline Family Violence. Victoria has had Enough, will promote the new laws and raise community awareness of family violence.
Family violence has the potential to cause irreparable and long term damage to those who experience it, and it will not be tolerated by the Victorian community, Mr Hulls said.
As a Government, and as a community, we must protect vulnerable members of our community and support them to seek help.
This landmark legislation and the supporting public awareness campaign send a very clear message that family violence is not acceptable in any Victorian community, regardless of socio-economic status, health, education, culture, religious beliefs or gender.
Joining Mr Hulls at the launch, Minister for Women's Affairs, Maxine Morand said the communications campaign would be an important tool in ensuring the community were aware of changes to the legislation.
"Cultural and attitudinal change are important factors in influencing behaviour," Ms Morand said.
Mr Hulls said one of the most significant changes made in the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 was the establishment of a two year pilot of Family Violence Safety Notices which police can issue after-hours to protect victims of family violence. This will support victims of family violence and their children by providing police with another tool to respond quickly and effectively to family violence after hours.
The new legislation recognises the complex nature of family violence and that emotional, psychological and economic abuse often accompany physical and sexual abuse. It also recognises the impact of family violence on children.
In line with the diversity within our community, the definition of a family member is expanded to include people in a family-like relationship, including people with a disability who are in a family-like relationship with their carer, Mr Hulls said.
It will also cover people who are related according to Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander tradition or contemporary social practice.
Mr Hulls said the legislation would make it easier for victims of family violence to remain in the family home with their children while the perpetrator may be required to leave. It also further shielded victims from re-trauma by restricting the direct cross-examination in court by alleged perpetrators.
The Victorian Government has committed more than $75 million since 2005 towards breaking the cycle of abuse and supporting victims. It is with an integrated response that we have the best chance of eradicating family violence, he said.
Mr Hulls said the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 represented another significant change, but a change in community attitudes towards family violence needed to go hand in hand with the legislation for it to be effective.
He said the communication campaign, which is supported by press and radio advertisements, posters and social media, would increase awareness of the family violence laws and encourage victims to speak up.
These images carry a powerful message, forcing us to face difficult truths about our community, Mr Hulls said.
This is about saying that Victoria has had enough of family violence.