The Ministry of Justice has reviewed the Domestic Violence Act 1995 and related family violence laws. The review's purpose was to look at how the laws could be strengthened to prevent family violence and improve how agencies respond.
The Prime Minister announced the review in July 2014 as part of a series of initiatives to better respond to family violence. The review was part of the wider cross-government Ministerial Work programme on family violence and sexual violence, co-chaired by the Minister of Justice and Minister for Social Development.
Cabinet agreed a package of changes to family violence laws in August 2016. The public was consulted in August - September 2015 as part of the review and nearly 500 submissions were received in response. These submissions helped inform the reforms.
The changes focus on intervening earlier to prevent future violence. The changes will strengthen civil and criminal laws, and support agencies to work together to respond to family violence. This includes supporting more consistent understanding and identification of the characteristics of family violence. As a result, victims will be safer and perpetrators will be stopped from using violence.
The table below summarises the key changes.
|The Act does not have enough guidance||
The Act will provide better guidance about what family violence is and how to use the Act:
|Victims can find protection orders difficult to apply for, due to a complicated process and costs of legal advice||
Protection orders will be easier to apply for:
|Opportunities to intervene early and support perpetrators to stop using violence aren’t maximised||
More effective at helping perpetrators change their behaviour:
|When parents separate, perpetrators may use parenting arrangements as an opportunity to continue to use violence against adult and child victims||
Better protect the safety of adult and child victims following separation:
|Family violence offending isn’t consistently identified or recorded in the criminal justice system||
Family violence offences are clearly flagged:
|Existing offences don’t clearly criminalise all family violence behaviours||
Ensuring family violence is effectively prosecuted:
If you'd like to learn more about these changes, please see:
Hon Amy Adams, Minister of Justice will introduce a Family Violence Bill to Parliament in the coming months. People will have the opportunity to comment on details of the proposed law when the Bill is considered at Select Committee.
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