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Family Violence Legislation Reform Act 2020

Responsible government

  • Western Australia

Fourth Action Plan actions

  • Respect, listen and respond to the diverse lived experience and knowledge of women and their children affected by violence
    • 12 Better equip the service system and communities to address complex forms of violence and harmful cultural practices including early and forced marriage, female genital mutilation/cutting, dowry abuse and human trafficking.
  • Improve support and service system responses
    • 16 Enable workforces to provide trauma-informed support with a focus on safety and recovery to victims and survivors of domestic, family and sexual violence.
    • 17 Collaborate across services, sectors and workforces to ensure responses to women affected by domestic, family and sexual violence are coordinated, meet women’s needs, avoid women having to retell their story and promote their recovery.

What are we doing?

The Western Australian (WA) Government has demonstrated its commitment to stopping family violence with a series of legislative reforms. The package of reforms under the Family Violence Legislation Reform (COVID-19 Response) Act 2020 and Family Violence Legislation Reform Act 2020 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.

What have we achieved so far?

The reform package, which passed the WA Parliament in 2020, amended nine statues across six ministerial portfolios, representing the largest suite of family and domestic violence related reforms in the state’s history. Key changes included:

  • Improving access to restraining orders, including enabling restraining order applications to be lodged online.
  • Creating a separate new offence for breach of a family violence restraining order.
  • Allowing the Family Court and Children’s Court to issue interim restraining orders on an ex-parte basis.
  • The introduction of a new ‘suffocation and strangulation’ (also known as ‘non-fatal strangulation’) offence, in recognition that non-fatal strangulation is a precursor to escalating violence and death.
  • The introduction of a new ‘persistent family violence’ offence in recognition that for many family violence victims the perpetrator commits persistent and ongoing acts of violence against them.
  • The introduction of the ‘Serial Family Violence Offender’ provisions, which allows for repeat family violence offenders to be readily identified by authorities and subject to more strenuous monitoring and bail conditions.
  • The introduction of a mediated ‘shuttle conferencing’ model for contested family violence restraining order proceedings. Shuttle conferencing involves the parties to a family violence restraining order attending the court in separate rooms with a mediation registrar “shuttling” between the two in an attempt to finalise conditions that are agreeable to both parties. This removes the need for the parties to participate in an adversarial (face-to-face) court hearing. The model will commence operation in the Perth Magistrates Court in July 2021 and expand to a further two locations by the end of 2021.
  • Introducing higher penalties for breaches of family violence restraining orders and offences committed in circumstances of aggravation.

These new laws put Western Australia at the forefront of the fight against family and domestic violence.

What is next?

Key provisions will be the subject of a limited review into their operation and effectiveness commencing in mid-2021.

What difference will we make?

These transformational changes respond to our increased understanding of how family and domestic violence impacts victims and will improve capacity to respond to perpetrators. The reforms demonstrate a cross-Government commitment to responding to family and domestic violence.

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