New definition of domestic violence
The definition has been broadened to include economic, emotional and psychological abuse, physical or sexual abuse or other behaviour which controls or dominates another person.
Grounds for making an order
- An act of domestic violence has occurred;
- A domestic relationship exists;
- The court must be satisfied that an order is necessary or desirable to protect an aggrieved from domestic violence (this has replaced the likelihood of future violence requirement).
The court may still consider evidence that future acts may occur but do not have to be satisfied that future acts are likely.
Specific considerations for naming children
The court can consider whether naming a child is necessary or desirable to protect the child from being exposed to domestic violence. A child will be exposed to violence if it sees or hears, or otherwise experiences the effects of domestic violence. An unborn child may also be protected.
Temporary Protection Orders
To minimise any gaps in protection for victims – the new act allows that where a protection order is made and a temporary protection order (TPO) has been served on the respondent, the TPO will remain in force until one of the following occurs-
- The respondent is served with the protection order;
- The order otherwise becomes enforceable, such as when a police officer tells the respondent about the existence of the order; or
- The protection order ends.
The Act places a more proactive duty on police to actually investigate possible abuse. Police will be required to make a written note of why they did not take any action in certain situations.
New provisions allow police to issue an immediate notice to provide protection. It allows for a 24 hour cool down provision directed at the respondent which will require the respondent to leave the premises and not approach the aggrieved during that period.
Police are being given the power to detain a person who appear to be at risk of injury or damage. This can be for up to 8 hours if the person is intoxicated or otherwise unable to understand direction and four hours is they are suspected of being at danger of injury.
Increased penalties for breaches
The general maximum penalty is now two years imprisonment or 60 penalty units.