Time to get tough on family violence
IMAGINE you go to court and the judge gives you a piece of paper which orders the ex-partner who has violently attacked or emotionally controlled you to stop – and stay away.
Then imagine that, despite this official piece of paper, they continue to harass or hurt you, with no care for the consequences.
This is the reality facing thousands of family violence victims who continue to receive threatening text messages, unwanted visits or worse every day.
The State Government toughened the law in 2011 to make it easier for victims to seek the protection of an intervention order and, since then, orders – and breaches – have been rising.
Many argue this is a sign of increased awareness, and to some extent it is.
But it is unacceptable that abusive perpetrators are allowed to continue to thumb their noses at the law so frequently.
The latest figures, showing some abusers breaching orders up to 20 times, have prompted calls to fast-track changes promised by our Government to prevent family violence.
Initiatives under consideration include a disclosure scheme allowing people with concerns about a partner’s behaviour to seek details about their criminal history, and letting police use video evidence of domestic violence victims in court.
The Government had been considering imposing a time limit on intervention orders – as is the case interstate – but confirmed in today’s Sunday Mail that it has abandoned the idea at the urging of victims.
Many of the other ideas proposed in a blueprint released by authorities more than a year ago are eminently sensible, could be easily enacted through a change of law or funding and already have the support of leaders such as the Police Commissioner and Chief Magistrate.
Deputy Premier John Rau says the Government’s final policy position will be outlined “soon” – but he had originally told the Sunday Mail he expected to enact changes by early this year. Victims are sick of waiting.
And while we wait, this social scourge costs our community too much – in time, money and pain.
As Centacare’s Dale West puts it, everyone is drawn into domestic violence: “The person on the receiving end of the punch and emotional abuse, their children, the people inadvertently caught in the middle, the doctors, nurses and everyone else around the victim”.
We’ve become much better at talking about this problem, which was kept behind closed doors for too long. But now we know what we’re dealing with and it’s time for action.