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Strengthening protections for domestic violence victims

Media Release

Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business
Acting Attorney-General
Acting Minister for Industrial Relations
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator The Hon. Michaelia Cash

Minister Assisting the Attorney-General
Senator The Hon. Amanda Stoker

Joint media release

The Morrison Government is strengthening the ability of the family law system to protect victims of domestic violence.

The Family Law Amendment (Federal Family Violence Orders) Bill 2021, introduced today in the House of Representatives, will establish criminally enforceable federal family violence orders, with breaches carrying a maximum penalty of up to two years in prison.

The orders will operate in the same way as state and territory domestic violence orders, and could include restrictions of a person's behaviours, communications or movements.

“The family courts routinely see matters involving allegations of family violence, but victims currently have to commence separate proceedings in a state or territory court to access criminally enforceable protection orders,” Acting Attorney-General, Senator Michaelia Cash, said.

“The availability of federal family violence orders will mean that where vulnerable people have matters before the family law courts, and don't already have a state or territory domestic violence order in place, they can apply for a protection order without navigating a separate court system, and receive the protection they need, when they need it.”

Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General, Senator Amanda Stoker, said the federal family violence orders offered stronger protections than existing family law injunctions, which require the protected person to bring a private action in a family court in response to a breach.

“Bringing a separate civil matter against a former partner can be extremely difficult for victims of family violence, can escalate risks, and be costly, time consuming, and stressful,” Senator Stoker said.

“Criminalised orders for family violence would place responsibility for enforcing the orders with police, rather than the victim.”

The Government has worked with states and territories to have federal family violence orders recognised on the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme, to allow local police to enforce conditions in the order regardless of where the order was breached.

“State and territory law enforcement have a key role to play in protecting people from family violence and we are working with states and territories to ensure that local police officers will have access to information and structures that allow enforcement action to be taken if a federal family violence order is breached,” Senator Stoker said.

The Government has committed $1.8 million to successfully implement the measures in the Bill, including ensuring that police can access the information they need to enforce the new orders.

This measure builds on the $340 million the Government has already invested in initiatives under the Fourth Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–2022.

Additionally, more than $170 million has been committed to respond to domestic violence since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes $20 million specifically dedicated to the delivery of legal services for people impacted by family or domestic violence.

Since 2013, the Government has invested over $1 billion to prevent and respond to violence against women and their children.

Read about the measures to improve the family law system

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 000. For sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling services call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 for 24/7 phone services.