: Domestic violence: law reform

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.

The LRCWA called for a changing of views on the perception of ‘domestic violence’ by society and its authorities. In its report, it says:

It is important to continue to discourage any perception that criminal acts conducted in a family or domestic environment are in some way less serious than those in other contexts, … Indeed … domestic and family violence should often be treated as an aggravating, not an ameliorating, factor.

It remains to be seen how many of these reforms will be implemented as legislation. Further, it comes on the heels of some commentators suggesting that there urgently needs to be a national review of responses to lethal domestic violence which is on the increase nationally.

Kate Fitz-Gibbon, lecturer in Criminology at Deakin University states that:

A national review would allow each state and territory to learn from the reform experiences of their counterparts. While there are sentencing and legislative differences across jurisdictions, there are benefits in considering the range of reforms and the impacts in practice on the law’s response to lethal domestic violence.

More on this: https://theconversation.com/laws-on-lethal-domestic-violence-should-be-reviewed-nationally-29282

STEVEN CASTAN is a WA-based barrister and nationally accredited mediator.

(2014) 39(3) AltLJ 200
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