Stalking: Consultation Paper (html)
How to tell us your views
1 The Victorian Law Reform Commission would like to hear from you. We would like to know your thoughts about the current stalking system and what needs to change. The deadline for submissions is 17 August 2021.
2 We will hear from people in three ways:
1) an online form (for people who have experienced stalking and those that have supported them)
2) submissions (written responses to our consultation paper or terms of reference)
3) formal consultations.
3 We explain these processes below.
4 If you or someone you know has experienced stalking and you would like to give feedback in another way, please contact us. We will arrange another way for you to share your views.
5 Please note that we do not provide legal advice. If you need help with a legal issue, you can contact Victoria Legal Aid, a community legal centre or a solicitor.
6 You may find it difficult or upsetting to discuss experiences of stalking and seeking justice. We encourage you to seek support from the organisations listed in the Victims of Crime Stalking information sheet. If your safety is at risk, please contact police by calling 000.
Giving feedback online
7 We have tried to make it easier for people who have experienced stalking, or helped someone who has, to give us feedback through a short online form at the website of Engage Victoria (https://engage.vic.gov.au/stalking-laws).
8 If you also want to provide feedback to the questions in the consultation paper, you can make a submission (see below).
9 We will not publish anyone’s individual responses to the online feedback form. We will publish a summary of responses that will not identify anyone.
Making a submission
10 You can tell us your views by sending us a submission. A submission is a written response to this inquiry. It does not need to be a formal document. It can be an email (to firstname.lastname@example.org). The important thing is that we hear your thoughts.
There is no standard format for submissions, but we prefer them to be in writing.
11 Our consultation paper contains questions. You can answer as many questions as you like, or you can respond to our terms of reference more generally without using the questions.
12 You can see a list of the questions on page x.
13 If you need assistance, you can make a submission verbally to one of the Commission staff. Please contact us if you need an interpreter or other assistance.
Important details about making a submission
14 When you make a submission, you must tell us if you want your submission to be public or confidential. If you do not tell us you want your submission to be confidential, we will treat it as public. That means that we may refer to it in our reports, upload it to our website and make it available to the public to read in our offices.
15 Your submission should include your name or organisation. If it does not have a name attached, it may be difficult for us to use the information. You can ask us not to publish your name in our report, but otherwise we will publish your name in our list of submissions, subject to any laws that apply.
16 Please make your submission by 17 August 2021. You can make your submission by:
• Sending your submission by email: email@example.com
• Sending your submission by mail: GPO Box 4637, Melbourne Vic 3001
• Phone: (03) 8608 7800, 1300 666 557 (TTY) or 1300 666 555 (cost of a local call).
17 We will speak with people who have experienced stalking, making contact through interested organisations. We will also meet with people who support or advocate for people who have experienced stalking.
18 We will meet with people and organisations who respond to stalking, such as judges, government departments, police and lawyers.
19 In the paragraphs below, we explain some key terms that we use in our consultation paper.
20 We understand that the best terms to use can change and people often disagree about the right terms to use. If you have views on the terms that we are using, please tell us in your online feedback or submission.
21 People who are stalked: We mainly refer to ‘people who are stalked’. This is to recognise that being stalked is an experience, rather than who someone is. It also recognises that people who have been stalked do not have one shared identity. We sometimes refer to people who have been stalked as ‘victim survivors’ (a term recognising their resilience as well as their victimisation) or as ‘complainants’ (which is a legal term).
22 People who have committed or engaged in stalking: We refer to ‘a person who has committed’ or ‘been convicted of’ or ‘engaged in stalking’ rather than ‘stalkers’. This recognises that stalking is a problem of someone’s behaviour, rather than of who they are. This is not meant to minimise the seriousness of stalking, which is among the most serious crimes in our community. We also refer to people who have been charged, but not convicted, as ‘the accused’.
What we will do with your responses
23 We will publish public submissions on our website, unless they include comments that are offensive or potentially defamatory, or are outside the scope of the review. However:
• we will remove personal addresses and contact details
• we will remove the name of the person making the submission if the person requests this (this will be securely stored as confidential information and not publicly released).
• we may remove information that might identify someone (in submissions that discuss specific cases or the personal circumstances of people).
24 Confidential submissions are not made available to the public and are not referred to in our reports. However, if someone requests a submission under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic), the request will be determined in accordance with the Act.
25 The Act has provisions designed to protect personal information and information given in confidence. Further information can be found at www.ovic.vic.gov.au.
26 The views in the submissions are those of the people or organisations who submit them. Their publication does not mean that the Commission accepts or agrees with those views.
27 We archive hard copies of submissions and send them to the Public Record Office Victoria.
Our process from here
28 We will consider all the responses we receive together with our own research. We will write interim and final reports for the Attorney-General including our recommendations on what should be done. The interim report is due by 31 December 2021. The final report is due by 30 June 2022. Within 14 sitting days of receiving our report, the Attorney-General must put it before the Victorian Parliament. It is up to the Victorian Government to decide what it will do in response to our report, and if the law is to be changed it is the role of the Victorian Parliament to make the changes.
29 To help us prepare the consultation paper we spoke informally with people and organisations including judges, staff of government departments, lawyers, academics and those who support or advocate for people who experience stalking. We are grateful for their assistance.
State Government of Victoria, ‘Stalking’, Victims of Crime (Web Page, June 2021) <https://www.victimsofcrime.vic.gov.au/the-crime/types-of-crime/stalking>.