New DV laws to be introduced to NSW parliament
NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman has announced the introduction of tougher strangulation laws in a reform package will send a strong message that domestic violence will not be tolerated.
It comes as a suite of reforms to the state’s Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs) aim to improve domestic violence victim protection.
Mr Speakman said reducing domestic violence “is one of the Premier’s top priorities.” The NSW Liberals and Nationals will be introducing the legislation to parliament in coming weeks.
If the legislation is passed, the reforms “will provide better outcomes for victims, make perpetrators more accountable and help reduce domestic violence reoffending,” he expressed.
A simpler strangulation offence that will be easier to prove will be introduced as part of the legislation and will carry a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment.
The new law would exist alongside current strangulation offences within the Crimes Act.
“The new offence will resolve the current situation,” Mr Speakman noted, “whereby many strangulation incidents are being prosecuted under lesser charges such as common assault, for which the maximum sentence is two years imprisonment.”
Supporting the legislation in her role as Minister for Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, Pru Goward said that the new strangulation offence recognises research that demonstrates strangulation attacks can be precursory to tragedy.
“Strangulation is a red flag for domestic violence homicide, so it’s important NSW has a specific offence formulated to capture domestic violence strangulation,” she continued.
“These reforms are another example of how this government is tougher than ever on the criminals who commit acts of domestic and family violence.”
The reforms are a response to recommendations within the NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team Report 2015–2017.
The reform package will also aim to improve victim protection under the state’s ADVO regime. Indefinite ADVOs in the most severe cases where other interventions have failed will be introduced, as well as a requirement for ADVOs to remain in place for two years after an adult domestic violence offender is released from prison (unless the court determines otherwise).
The default length of an ADVO for adults will also be extended from 12 months to two years, and the NSW Police Force will be granted power to immediately vary ADVOs in response to serious and immediate victim risks.
NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller says the new power will help to reduce stress and improve protection for domestic and family violence victims, with evidence showing ADVOs as an important tool in helping to reduce reoffending. He noted that “these changes will also reduce the trauma victims experience having to attend court to seek extensions and amendments to orders.”