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  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
- 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
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 …”
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