Last week, on 5 June 2018, the Victorian Attorney-General Martin Pakula introduced the Justice Legislation Amendment (Family Violence Protection and Other Matters) Bill 2018 (Vic) (the “Bill”) into the Victorian Legislative Assembly. The Bill was introduced with the purpose of implementing 6 recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence (the “Royal Commission”). The Royal Commission tabled their final report to Parliament in March 2016. The 6 recommendations proposed to be implemented by the Bill were outlined in the explanatory memorandum to the Bill (page 1), and relate to:
Following the release of the report of the Royal Commission in 2016, the Victorian Government has made various steps to implement the 227 recommendations made by the Commission. These steps were summarised by Mr Pakula in his second reading speech on 6 June 2018:
“Family violence is pervasive in nature and its impact is profound. The trauma from, and devastating effects of, family violence on the health and wellbeing of victim survivors often remain long after the violence itself ends. This is why the Victorian Government has committed to implementing all 227 recommendations of the Royal Commission into Family Violence (the Royal Commission).
Two years on from the release of the report of the Royal Commission, the Justice Legislation Amendment (Family Violence Protection and Other Matters) Bill 2018 (the Bill) responds to six of the Royal Commission's recommendations.
This Bill is the second stage of justice-related legislative reform, the first stage being the Family Violence Protection Amendment Act 2017. The amendments in the Bill further strengthen Victoria's efforts to respond to family violence, improving the protection of victim survivors and the accountability of perpetrators for their behaviour.”
The Bill proposes to make a number of amendments to various Acts for the purpose of implementing the 6 recommendations made by the Royal Commission in 2016. The Acts proposed to be amended and the purposes of these amendments are outlined in section 1 of the Bill:
“The main purposes of this Act are—
The proposed functions of the Bill are further outlined by Mr Pakula in his second reading speech:
“The Bill establishes the Specialist Family Violence Court Division in the Magistrates' Court, extends access for young people to therapeutic treatment programs, enables applications for family violence intervention orders to be filed online, and includes dowry-related abuse and forced marriage as statutory examples of family violence in the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic).
The Bill also improves the criminal justice system's response to family violence, by enabling a trial of a scheme that allows a recorded statement to be used as a victim's evidence-in-chief in proceedings for family violence offences, and empowering the Courts to make interim family violence intervention orders without a formal application if they believe that material in a criminal proceeding shows a victim survivor needs protection.
The Bill also makes other amendments that complement the Royal Commission's recommendations, including facilitating the electronic issue and transmission of court and tribunal documents, abolishing appeals against interim intervention orders, enhancing the counselling order provisions in the Family Violence Protection Act, and promoting the practical operation of the power of the court to make family violence intervention orders, on its own initiative, to protect children.”
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Justice Legislation Amendment (Family Violence Protection and Other Matters) Bill 2018 (Vic), and explanatory material available on TimeBase's LawOne service.
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