On 25 June 2020, State Parliament passed the Family Violence Legislation Reform Bill 2019, putting Western Australia at the forefront of the fight against family and domestic violence.
The Reform Bill enforces a suite of changes, including:
- two new offences under the Criminal Code, namely ‘suffocation and strangulation’ and ‘persistent family violence’
- introduction of a serial family violence offender declaration (the first in Australia)
- new aggravated penalties for offences which commonly occur in circumstances of family violence
- introduction of jury directions to counter stereotypes, myths and misconceptions about family and domestic violence
- making it easier for evidence of family and domestic violence to be introduced in criminal trials
- removing the requirement of a vehicle owner to identify the driver responsible for incurring a fine if the owner can demonstrate that to do so may result in family violence
- requirement for police to record every family violence incident
- a range of amendments to the Restraining Orders Act 1997 and Bail Act 1982 to enhance victim safety and make it easier for victims to obtain protection from violence.
The reforms demonstrate a cross-government commitment to tackling the complex and non-discriminatory issue of family and domestic violence, which impacts countless individuals and families on a daily basis.
The Honourable Simone McGurk MLA, Minister for Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence is optimistic that the Bill will protect lives.
"These transformational changes respond to our increased understanding of how family and domestic violence impacts victims, who are predominantly women and children.
"The rates of family and domestic violence in the community are unacceptably high and the Government is determined to send a very clear message – violence is never OK.
"I truly believe that these changes will save lives."
If you or anyone you know is experiencing family and domestic violence and/or sexual violence, there is help available. For a comprehensive list of State and National helplines, please visit the Department of Communities' Family and Domestic Violence Help and Advice page.