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The Queensland Government has recently announced they are expanding and modernising the laws surrounding domestic and family violence.
These changes represent a positive step forward in combatting non-physical domestic violence, to protect victims whose suffering is all too real but more difficult to establish. The new laws take steps to combat coercive control, emphasise patterns of domestically violent behaviour, and limit a perpetrator’s ability to re-traumatise their victims during the court process. The bill was introduced into parliament on Friday (14 October 2022) and provides a number of positive amendments to the existing laws.
These changes come about in preparation for the eventual criminalisation of coercive control, which is the act of using controlling behaviour to control where a partner can go, who they can see, what they can do, and how much they can spend. The new laws expand and strengthen protections for victims of this abuse and update the legislation to encompass modern-day domestic violence.
The law will also be expanded to include, “patterns of behaviour”, not just single incidents. This ultimately means the courts will assess the cumulative impact of a perpetrator’s behaviour in the context of the relationship, taking a wider view of the problem to see ongoing and historical abuse. Overall, these changes stand to strengthen the court’s consideration of previous domestic violence and represent a shift to focusing on dangerous patterns of violence over time instead of individual acts. The definition of stalking will also be amended to include monitoring and tracking a victim using modern technology, such as tracking devices and mobile phone apps.
The Court will now be required to determine and prioritise the person “most in need of protection” in domestic violence proceedings. This means that if you make an Application for a Domestic Violence Order and a cross-application is made against you by your alleged abuser, these Applications will be heard together. The Court will then decide who needs to be protected most, and will only grant one Protection Order in most circumstances. Victims will also be classified as “protected witnesses” in domestic violence proceedings, such that they cannot be cross-examined and re-traumatised by their abuser.
Overall, these changes represent a positive move towards increased protection for victims, particularly in instances of coercive control, and provide modern improvements to the existing laws surrounding family and domestic violence in Queensland.
If this article has raised any questions for you, don’t hesitate to contact our Toowoomba Family Lawyers for legal advice and support.
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