ARMADALE MLA Tony Buti has backed the introduction of new laws into the WA Parliament last week to increase penalties for breaches of violence restraining orders (VRO) and create stricter controls for domestic violence offenders.
WA Labor’s Criminal Laws (Domestic Violence) Amendment Bill includes a raft of new measures and Dr Buti said it was another important step in the fight to protect women by breaking the cycle of domestic violence in the community.
“No West Australian should have to face the threat of domestic violence,” he said.
“It is a scourge on our community and although women are overwhelmingly the victims, it can also impact men, children and families.
“Passing these laws would show that WA is serious about combating the scourge of domestic and family violence.
“It will create more accountability for perpetrators and greater protections for victims.”
He said it was a huge problem throughout WA, affecting all socio-economic backgrounds.
“In the southeast corridor we do have a large proportion of domestic violence assaults,” he said.
“We want the Parliament to make a statement and we want the Government to come and agree with us that domestic violence is as serious as any other violence that is perpetrated in society.”
WA Labor leader Mark McGowan said the changes would extend the maximum penalty for breaches of a VRO to three years imprisonment.
He said the laws would ensure instances of domestic violence were noted on an offender’s criminal record, meaning their history of domestic violence could be flagged by anyone examining their criminal history.
Courts will still be able to use discretion as to whether the offences are formally recorded.
“Victims of domestic violence would be regarded as special witnesses and will be able to better access support and protection during the process of giving evidence in court,” Mr McGowan said.
The Bill allows courts to increase imprisonment for unlawful assault causing death in family and domestic violence situations.
“Too many deaths from domestic violence are resulting in small sentences,” Mr McGowan said.
“Under the laws, if you breach a VRO you’ll face a longer prison sentence. There is no easy fix but this Bill is an important step in our multi-faceted commitment to break the cycle of domestic violence and protect WA women.”
Attorney-General Michael Mischin told the ABC the Government released a detailed consultation paper on a similar Bill last year, and was close to introducing reforms to family violence legislation.
He said the Government’s legislation would be based on extensive consultation.
“It is the subject of detailed input from agencies delivering family violence services, particularly those in the justice system that need to be consulted to get legislation of this kind right,” he said.