Domestic And Family Violence Protection And Other Legislation Amendment Bill

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I rise to make a contribution in support of the domestic violence and other legislation bill. This government is committed to the prevention of domestic and family violence and to supporting women and their children to escape the horrors of that violence. I acknowledge the work done by the Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence and highlight her commitment to these issues. Earlier this year I worked with the minister to make changes to the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008 to give victims of domestic violence greater protection against being listed on tenancy databases and to make it easier for them to have their names removed from blacklists. This was a simple but important change as part of a comprehensive program of reform this government is undertaking in response to the Not now, not ever report.

The bill that we have before us is another major step in the implementation of those comprehensive reforms implementing the task force’s recommended changes to the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act. Further, I support the bill as it also implements model laws endorsed by COAG allowing our state to participate in the national domestic violence order scheme, meaning that DVOs made across Australia will have automatic mutual recognition. This will ensure that women and children are safer, irrespective of state borders. The changes to the act will improve protections for victims and strengthen our state’s justice response.

The community that I represent supports requiring police to consider what action to take to provide victims with effective and immediate protection until a court can consider an application for a protection order and expand the protection that police can provide through police protection notices. This includes expanding existing powers available for police to direct a person to remain at a specified place and to direct a person to move to and remain at another place, allowing police to serve or explain an application of the PPN or DVO. These measures will back in the work being done by police right across our community, and I recognise the valuable work and dedication of those officers across Springwood. I am pleased that our government will give them extra powers and extra tools to help prevent perpetrators of domestic and family violence from continuing to intimidate their victims.

There are some excellent services in our neighbourhood like the Working Against Violence Support Service and this bill enables the QPS to refer victims and perpetrators to specialist domestic and family violence services like WAVSS where a threat to life, health or safety is identified. Too many people know what it is like to live in fear of violence in their own homes and we have a responsibility to make sure that those people are better protected when they are trying to protect themselves and their children, and this bill clarifies that courts may make a domestic violence order when a victim has been threatened and fears for their safety, because family violence is not just limited to physical violence; threats and intimidation are themselves a form of violence. 

With this bill we are strengthening the justice response, requiring courts to consider whether additional DVO conditions are necessary or desirable, to better tailor protection for victims. The following are key elements for the courts: focusing on the protection required by a victim in determining the appropriate duration of a protection order; considering noncompliance with a voluntary intervention order when making a protection order; and increasing the maximum penalties for breaches of PPNs and release conditions so they are consistent with other existing penalty provisions, more accurately reflecting the seriousness of domestic and family violence. These are all important changes and they are changes that ultimately, I think we would all agree, will save lives. They will give women and children the added protection they need to leave dangerous situations and lead a life free from violence.

This bill is part of a whole-of-government response to the Not now, not ever report, but the measures in this bill should not be considered in isolation. My department and the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services have worked closely to deliver two new crisis shelters in Townsville and Brisbane in response to recommendations of the report and are investing $8.68 million to build and operate services in both Roma and Charters Towers in the near future.

I conclude by saying that this government is committed to meaningful action on domestic violence, and I once again commend the minister for her leadership when it comes to addressing this issue. I also commend our police officers, staff in the justice system and staff within other government agencies that are dedicated to helping victims. I also commend support services like WAVSS and YFS in the neighbourhood that I represent that are dedicated to supporting and assisting victims. I know just how dedicated the minister is to supporting vulnerable Queenslanders—women and children—in this state by establishing a system that leaves no stone unturned when it comes to preventing violence in our homes. This bill is an important next step in our response to tackling domestic and family violence and I commend it to the House. 

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