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Media Release by The Hon Tanya Pibersek MP

Insight Into Australia’s Domestic Violence Laws

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Robert McClelland MP, Attorney-General

Speaking at the inaugural Ministerial Council on Family Violence, Attorney-General Robert McClelland, and Tanya Plibersek, today launched a valuable report addressing domestic violence and sexual assault laws.

The report, ‘Domestic Violence Laws in Australia’, provides an overview of Commonwealth, State, Territory and New Zealand legislation and will be used to develop the Rudd Government’s National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women.

Nearly one in three Australian women experience physical violence and nearly one in five experience sexual violence over their lifetime.

The Australian Government’s position on violence against women is one of zero tolerance.

Laws must be strong enough to hold perpetrators to account and offer justice and safety for victims and their families.

The Report, prepared by the Australian Government Solicitor (AGS) for the National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, finds significant differences in:

  • maximum penalties for contravening a domestic violence order;
  • approaches to counselling and rehabilitation programs; and
  • police obligations to take action where domestic violence is suspected.

The report also provides an analysis of overlaps and potential gaps between the Family Law Act 1975 and State and Territory domestic violence protection orders, providing a valuable basis for the Australian and New South Wales Law Reform Commissions’ inquiry into the interaction of domestic violence laws which was a key recommendation of the National Council’s ‘Time for Action’ report.

It also examines the registration process for domestic violence protection orders and ‘portability’ between jurisdictions, a critical issue for women fleeing domestic violence. This will be an important input as the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) considers options for a national register of protection orders to better protect victims.

Sexual assault, domestic and family violence have serious and often devastating consequences for victims, their extended families and the community.

Through the development of a National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women, the Rudd Government remains committed to providing national leadership on this critical issue.