Family Violence

Note: This is the page for the Commission's 2006 Family Violence inquiry. For the 2017 Family Violence and the Victims of Crime Assistance Act inquiry click here.

An alarming number of Victorians experience violence and abuse within their families. In many instances, victims found the justice system failed to adequately protect them. Could the criminal justice system - particularly the intervention order system - do better to protect victims of family violence?   

In November 2002, the Commission was asked by the Attorney-General to review and report on the laws and systems in relation to family violence. 

After preliminary research, a consultation paper, released in November 2004, asked for submissions. As well as the 86 public submissions received, the commission consulted widely with Victoria Police, the courts and lawyer groups. It drew on expert guidence from a general advisory committee, a specialist advisory committee on culturally and linguistically diverse communities, and a specialist advisory committee on people with a disability.

In August 2005, the Commission published the Interim Report, Family Violence: Police Holding Powers, which recommended police officers have the power to remove, hold and detain people pending an application for an intervention order. This power was legislated in October 2005. 

The final report to Parliament on 1 March 2006 made 153 recommendations to improve the response to victims from police, courts and the community. The key recommendations were:

  • The introduction of a new Family Violence Act underpinned by a clear statement of the aims and purpose of the law
  • A broad definition of ‘family violence’ that includes emotional and economic abuse, as well as physical violence; and a broad definition of ‘family’ to cover the modern notions of family, including carers of dependents
  • A widespread community education campaign to change attitudes to family violence and to encourage respect
  • The establishment of specialist lists within the court system, specialist prosecution and victim support service and funding for legal advice and representation for victims of family violence
  • Training for magistrates on the impact of family violence, to ensure appropriate orders are made, including to protect children
  • Improving physical safety at court and introducing other measures, such as video conferencing to make courts safer and more accessible
  • Targeted and appropriate family violence services, support and information for indigenous people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities and people with disabilities.

Implementation

The recommendations of the Commission's 2005 Family Violence Police Holding Powers Interim Report were adopted in the Crimes (Family Violence) (Holding Powers) Act 2006.

In 2008, the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 implemented many of the Commission’s legislative recommendations. 

The legislative reforms are supported by whole of government family violence prevention initiatives, including Victoria’s Action Plan to Address Violence against Women and Children – Everyone has a Responsibility to Act, launched in 2012.

The Family Violence Protection Amendment Act 2014 made some changes to the operation of family violence safety notices and interim family violence intervention orders.

Timeline

Current: Table in parliament

Full timeline:

Reference
Consultation
Submissions
Final report
Tabled in parliament
View full timeline

Project Publications

Family Violence Laws: Report

The Commission's Review of Family Violence Laws: Report, published on 1 March 2006, can be downloaded as a pdf below. It made 153 recommendations,...

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Review of Family Violence Laws: Recommendations

In the final report of its Review of Family Violence Laws, the Commission made 153 recommendations, set out below:   1.       The Crimes (Family...

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Family Violence Laws: Consultation Paper

On 26 November 2004, the Commission published the Review of Family Violence Laws: Consultation Paper, focusing on intervention orders and asking for...

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Review of Family Violence Laws: Terms of Reference

On 1 November 2002, the Attorney-General asked the Victorian Law Reform Commission to review the laws pertaining to family violence and make...

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