New law aims to reduce family violence and put victims first

The new Family Violence Amendments Act will significantly improve the response to domestic violence, a domestic abuse organisation says.

The act aims to keep victims, including children, safe and reduce family violence. It also creates three new offences, including one of strangulation or suffocation, which carries a maximum sentence of seven years imprisonment.

Shine director Jane Drumm said the new legislation will help agencies and organisations deliver a unified approach to dealing with family violence.

“What they’re doing is they’re reflecting on all of the gaps that we’ve currently got and how we respond to family violence and they’re starting to mop those up,” Ms Drumm said.

The new legislation allows victims to give evidence via video recording made before the hearing. It also makes changes to the Bail Act 2000 by making the safety of the victim and their family the primary consideration when granting bail and imposing conditions.

“These amendments put the victim first. The challenge now will be ensuring these laws are enforced and supported by policies and procedures across a range of government agencies and service providers,” Ms Drumm said.

Three parts of the act will come into force tomorrow – the rest will be introduced in July next year.

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