Courts failing abuse victims
Minister says police, judges ‘out of step’ on violence
NATIONALLY accredited domestic violence training for judges and police could be on the cards as the Federal Assistant Minister for Women slammed courts for not meeting community expectations in dealing with abusive partners.
The Abbott Government has suggested its expert panel consider whether training should be pursued when it meets this month ahead of its report to the states by the year’s end on how to tackle the difficult social issue.
Senator Michaelia Cash has told The Courier-Mail she would like to see the panel consider whether specialist training for magistrates, judges and police officers on how best to deal with victims and perpetrators should be pursued.
Her comments follow landmark research that showed domestic violence offenders were treated more leniently by the courts than other violent offenders even though the violence was usually worse.
The Griffith University in- vestigation of NSW courts found people were less likely to go to prison, more likely to get shorter sentences if they did, and were more likely to be subject to community-based orders if the violence was directed at a partner rather than at someone else.
Senator Cash said the justice system was too often out of step with community expectations. “Murder is murder, assault is assault, the mere fact that it is committed in a domestic or family situation should not detract from the nature of the crime,” she said.
“They are the community expectations and I think the community would expect the judiciary to act accordingly.”
The COAG panel has already been asked to consider GPS monitoring of domestic violence offenders.
The Australian Medical Assoication has also released a toolkit for GPs to help women at risk of domestic violence seek emergency accommodation and leave abusive partners. It sets out how to spot abuse and how to offer help as GPs report a spike in women confiding in their doctors.