WA's Domestic Violence Orders National Recognition Legislation: Committee Report Tabled

Thursday 12 October 2017 @ 10.22 a.m. | Crime | Judiciary, Legal Profession & Procedure

In August 2017 when the Domestic Violence Orders (National Recognition) Bill 2017 (WA) was introduced into the WA Parliament, the Bill was declared "urgent" and the proposed legislation was expected to pass quickly. The Bill did in fact get to second Reading in the Council in the space of just one day, however, at that stage it was referred to the Standing Committee on Uniform Legislation and Statutes Review for scrutiny and the report on the Bill, (Report No. 107 (TP 712)), was tabled in the Council one month later on 10 October 2017. 

About the Bill

The Bill in broad terms gives effect to the Western Australian component of a national recognition scheme for domestic violence orders and makes consequential amendments to the Restraining Orders Act 1997 (WA) as a result. The national recognition scheme is due to start on 25 November 2017.

The national recognition scheme was agreed to in December 2015 by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) as a national cross-recognition scheme for restraining orders that relate to family violence - the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme (NDVOS).

The purpose of the Bill is to enable Western Australia to participate in the NDVOS and once the national scheme is established, an order made in one State or Territory will automatically operate across all jurisdictions.

In a Media Release the Minister the Hon Simone McGurk, has said that:

"It is time for us [the Government] to be able to provide consistent, instantaneous legal protection across State and Territory boundaries to enhance victim safety and perpetrator accountability. . . . The introduction of the Bill is symbolic of the priority that the McGowan Government is giving to addressing family and domestic violence in WA."

The Minister further stated that ". . . WA was lagging behind other jurisdictions", remaining as the only State that was yet to enact enabling legislation and join the national scheme.

Upon the Bill's enactment, victims of domestic violence, coming to or leaving WA to escape such violence, will be able to have their domestic violence order recognised wherever they go under the national scheme. The scheme will remove the need to go to the courts to get existing orders registered, or the need to fill out more paperwork, or tell the story to another court registrar or officer of the court.

The effect will be according to the Minister that those trying to escape domestic violence will be able to: ". . . get on with establishing their new home, secure in the knowledge that their domestic violence order will be upheld by police and courts in any State or Territory".

Along with the national scheme there will also be the introduction of improvements under the amended Restraining Orders Act 1997 (WA) in particular the new Family Violence Restraining Orders (FVROs). These should now be easier to obtain when needed, as the amended Restraining Orders Act now recognises forms of violence that are not physical, for example; verbal, psychological and financial abuse.

Reaction and Comment

Commenting on the changes the South West Refuge chief executive officer Anita Shortland is reported as welcoming the changes which will ". . . allow victims of domestic and family violence to be better protected from November 25" - saying also that: 

“Both Acts are important for keeping survivors of family domestic violence safe, as local police take action against those who continue stalking, creating fear, and perpetrating any kind of violence after an FVRO has been issued.”

Next Steps

Given that the national scheme is meant to commence next month, passage and enactment of the Bill is expected soon.

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Domestic Violence Orders (National Recognition) Bill 2017 (WA) and second reading speech as reported in the TimeBase LawOne Service.

Domestic Violence Bill to protect victims is closer to becoming law (Minister's Media Release)

Bill to streamline violence orders nationwide (The West Australian)

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