Tasmanian Family Violence Reforms Bill Receives Assent

Thursday 13 December 2018 @ 2.28 p.m. | Crime | Legal Research

The Family Violence Reforms Bill 2018 (Tas) (the “Bill”) was introduced to Tasmania Parliament’s House of Assembly on 25 September 2018, by the Hon Elise Archer MP.  It received Royal Assent on 10 December 2018 and was enacted as the Family Violence Reforms Act 2018 (Act 26 of 2018), with Act also taking commencing on the date of its assent.

Background to the Bill

The amendments made to the Criminal Code Act are in response to recommendations which were outlined in the Criminal Justice Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, and as a result of the High Court of Australia’s decision in Chiro v The Queen [2017] HCA 37. The Bill went through a community consultation process , which closed on 31 August 2018.

According to the Bill’s Explanatory Memorandum (the “EM”), the object of the amendments was to implement the Government’s commitment to create a new offence of “persistent family violence”  in the Criminal Code [Act 1924] as well as making amendments to the Evidence (Children and Special Witnesses) Act 2001 and the Family Violence Act 2004.

Overview of the Amendments

Amendments to the Criminal Code Act 1924 include:

  • inserting to s 125A(4), a new paragraph (c) to provide that each member of the jury does not have to agree on the same unlawful sexual acts that constitute the unlawful sexual relationship with a young person for an offence under subsection (2);
  • inserting to s 125A a new subsection (6B) to provide that in sentencing a person for an offence under ss (2), the sentencing judge is to make her or his own findings as to the nature and character of the unlawful sexual relationship and sentence the accused accordingly; and
  • inserting a new s 170A and a new s 337A in Chapter XXXIX - Powers of Conviction Upon Particular Indictments.

Amendments to the Evidence (Children and Special Witnesses) Act 2001 include:

  • making miscellaneous amendments to s 3 and s 8;
  • amending Heading to Part 4; and
  • amending s 8A to provide that a “self-represented defendant is not permitted to cross-examine a witness who is the alleged victim of family violence during an application”.

Amendments to the Family Violence Act 2004 include:

  • amending s 31 by inserting a new ss (2B) after ss (2A), with regard to the “cross-examination of a witness who is the alleged victim of any prescribed proceeding, as defined in that Act, for a family violence offence to which an application under Part 3 or 4 relates”.

Comment on the Bill

Ms Leonie Hiscutt MLC (Liberal Member for Montgomery, Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council) said in her Second Reading Speech:

“… This bill delivers on the Government's commitment to create a new offence of persistent family violence … Section 170A provides a new offence of 'persistent family violence'. This offence recognises that a family violence perpetrator can maintain an abusive relationship, physically or psychologically, with a spouse or partner for an extensive period of time …”

The Hon Elise Archer commented in a Statement:

“A new crime of ‘persistent family violence’ will soon be included in the Criminal Code … In order to prove a charge of persistent family violence, the Crown must show that the accused committed an unlawful family violence act in relation to his or her spouse or partner on at least three occasions …  It will not be necessary to prove exact dates or circumstances of the unlawful family violence acts and, at a trial before a jury, each member of the jury will not be required to agree on which unlawful family violence acts constitute the persistent family violence relationship …”

TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.


Family Violence Reforms Bill 2018 [Tas] - Bill and supporting information available from TimeBase's LawOne Service.

Related Articles: