Between 2006 and 2012 there was an average of 23 deaths per year in Queensland associated with domestic violence according to the DVConnect statistics. DVConnect also reported an average of 55,000 incoming calls that relate to domestic violence each year.
In 2012 the definition of domestic violence in Queensland was broadened to include ‘coercion’, ‘control’ and ‘causing fear’ as well as emotional and psychological abuse and economic abuse. In the same year the definition in the Australian Family Law Act was also widened with the aim to better protect children and families from domestic violence.
The law also aims to protect children by prohibiting exposure to domestic violence and providing that overhearing threats of physical abuse or repeated derogatory or racial taunts is considered domestic violence. Even where a child is providing comfort or assistance to a person who has been physically abused constitutes domestic violence.
This broadening of the definition enables an aggrieved or authorised person to successfully obtain a temporary protection order or domestic violence order where there is domestic violence occurring. A police officer is also able to apply for such an order where they know or suspect domestic violence is occurring to a person. Unlike other orders made by a court involving violence, a domestic violence order made against a person is not a criminal conviction itself, but a breach of the terms of the order is a criminal offence.
The changes to domestic violence law also include increased penalties for breaches of a domestic violence order. A general maximum penalty for contravening a domestic violence order increased from 12 months imprisonment (or $4,400 fine) to 2 years imprisonment (or $6,600). The law also imposes stricter maximum penalties on those repeatedly committing such acts. Any person with a prior conviction for breaching an order in the previous 5 years now faces up to 3 years imprisonment (or $12,120).
The strengthening of the law relating to domestic violence aims to reduce the occurrences of domestic violence in Queensland and Australia and enable victims to successfully obtain protection under the law.
If you have any questions regarding domestic violence legislation or would like to book an appointment, feel free to contact me at Shane@gpla.com.au.