DownUnderAllOver

DownUnderAllOver

Developments around the country

DownUnderAllOver is a round-up of legal news from both State and federal jurisdictions, and contains topical articles and short pieces from Alternative Law Journal committees around the country.

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Domestic violence: law reform

Steven Castan
Western Australia

The Law Reform Commission of Western Australia (‘LRCWA’) tabled its final report on 24 June 2014 — almost a year after receiving its terms of reference from the Western Australian Attorney General, the Hon Michael Mischin, MLC. The report makes 73 key recommendations, including:

  • the separation of family and domestic violence orders from the existing Restraining Orders Act;
  • treating ‘domestic violence’ as a criminal offence under the Criminal Code;
  • creating clearer definitions of what constitutes domestic violence; and
  • the inclusion of ‘Cyber-Stalking’ in the definition of domestic violence.
(2014) 39(3) AltLJ 200

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WA Legal Aid funding news

Steven Castan
Western Australia

Some good news in relation to funding for Legal Aid in Western Australia has been announced despite major federal funding cuts in the 2014–2015 Federal Budget.

In May, the WA Attorney General Michael Mischin announced that West Australians who cannot afford to seek legal advice or representation will benefit from a $2.3 million funding boost to Legal Aid WA.

The additional funding, allocated over the next four years, will allow the organisation to employ four extra lawyers in its duty lawyer service, which provides free advice and representation to people who appear on a range of non-trial matters in the Magistrates Courts.

(2014) 39(3) AltLJ 200

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Deaths in custody

Steven Castan
Western Australia

An aboriginal woman died in custody in the Pilbara region on Monday 4 August 2014 after complaining of feeling unwell and being taken to hospital three times over the weekend. Medical staff provided a ‘medical fitness to be held in custody’ certificate before she was returned to the lockup, yet she still died in custody.

(2014) 39(3) AltLJ 201

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Continuing crisis with WA Prisons, but some good news as well

Steven Castan
Western Australia

WA continues to have issues with the running of its $1 billion a year prison system as the total prison population rose to over 5100 in April.

On the one hand some prisons such as Bandyup women’s prison are in severe meltdown, with inmate numbers reaching a level whereby the prison cannot be run safely. At Bandyup up to 30 inmates have to sleep on mattresses on the floor. To cope with this accommodation crisis, the government is considering shifting men from Greenough Regional Prison to Hakea and Acacia Prisons, to make room for more women.

(2014) 39(1) AltLJ 143

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Threats to Victoria’s Abortion Laws

Ronli Sifris
Victoria

An assessment of reproductive rights in Australia, particularly the right to access abortion services, reveals a political and legal landscape in which progress on one front is frequently accompanied by regression on another front. For example, in recent years there has been significant progress in the form of the decriminalisation of abortion in Victoria (2008) and Tasmania (2013). At the same time, threats to the right of women to terminate a pregnancy have taken various forms. For example, in 2008 there was a failed attempt to remove Medicare funding for second trimester abortions, and legislation (known as Zoe’s Law) which explicitly recognises the foetus as a person in certain circumstances is currently before the New South Wales Parliament.

(2014) 39(1) AltLJ 142

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