In particular, domestic violence includes assault or personal injury, as well as sexual assault, intentional damage to the victim’s property, and threats. Legislation for domestic violence covers only people with close relationships like spouses, de facto partners, children, step-children, and other individuals who are regarded as a “relative”.
Throughout Australia, it has been reported that one out of three women experience or suffer physical violence. And whilst physical violence is the most common case for domestic violence, it can actually come in different ways, including psychological abuse, verbal abuse, financial abuse, stalking, social and geographical isolation of a person, and even cruelty to pets.
Any act of violence can be considered and filed a case for in court, as long as it involves violence or any behavioural control or dominion over a person. As mentioned earlier, it occurs in a familial or intimate relationship.
Violation within family or familial relationships not only happens in husband-wife and girlfriend-boyfriend relationships,but also in child-parent relationships. One common case that happens in child-parent relationships is child abuse. In this regard, the government has different laws for handling each type of case. The Family Act of 1975 provides protection for children who are suspected of being abused by their parent(s) or are at risk of being abused.
Domestic violence in Australia
Domestic violence has long been a serious issue in Australia. The government has also modified and enhanced the laws constituting domestic violence to explain its scope and to specifically identify which sanctions or punishments are right for the violation.
In the country, an average of 253 domestic violence cases have been listed and dealt with by the Australian police in 2016. There have also been 18 women in Queensland who died because of domestic violence. This figure reveals a high percentage of domestic violence allegations that have been filed in court, indicating that more and more abuse happens in the family. However, not all cases are pursued because not all victims muster the courage to speak out.
One major problem in the legislation of domestic violence in Australia is the bail provided to the abusive parties. Once bail has been given to the other party after they serve their sentence in jail, what usually happens is that they go back to their victims and start victimising again.
With that, the Australian Domestic Law implemented new rules, requiring violence offenders to prove themselves worthy of the bail. Under the new Act, Bail (Domestic Violence) and Another Act Amendment Bill of 2017, the offenders have to go through a trial process where police and prosecutors have to argue why a person should be kept in custody and not granted bail. This law provides more support and safeguards for domestic violence victims, as it imposes provisions for courts to give out GPS or tracking devices to domestic violence offenders as a condition with the bail. This enables authorities to monitor them with their undertakings after they post bail and ensure that they don’t get back at their victims.
Aside from this, the Australian law also allows the aggrieved parties to be notified after their perpetrator was given bail. This is to help them become aware that the person who victimised them is already out of jail; thus, protecting them from the harm that their perpetrator might cause them. Moreover, the aggrieved party can prepare to escape or move to another place, just in case.
The process of representing the aggrieved and respondent parties varies from state to state, depending on the legislation provided in each State and Territory. In Queensland, there is a special training given to Police Prosecutors to represent the aggrieved persons or victims in court during a trial for application of domestic violence. Police prosecutors usually represent an aggrieved person or party; however, they can seek help from a private lawyer to represent them at their own expense. In some cases, an aggrieved person may also be represented by a private lawyer. The respondents or the perpetrators, on the other hand, must represent themselves or hire a lawyer to represent them.
At the court trial
Court proceedings often have a Duty Lawyer who can give advice and community organisation members who are well-trained to provide support and guidance to a person. These people are available in court to provide support and information to both the men and women who are exposed to Domestic Violence, whether they are the Aggrieved or the Respondent. Both parties are also given protection and safety and the chance to be heard throughout a court hearing. If the perpetrator cannot accept the accusation against them, they can prove their innocence through evidences or sworn statements by their witnesses. The aggrieved person can also provide their own proof and witnesses.
The presiding judge who handles domestic violence cases will keep the temporary protection order for both parties until a final date is set for the court hearing. After the trial, the stories provided by each party will be assessed in a more rigorous process before deciding what will happen to the perpetrator. Court proceedings, hearings and trials, are usually done within closed doors to preserve the confidentiality of the process and the case, unless both parties agree to make the trial public. In some jurisdictions, a respondent who is found guilty of the violence undergoes a rehabilitation and counseling program to help him improve and overcome the violent lifestyle.
Representing the victims and perpetrators is very important because this process helps both parties express their sides, as well as identify the truth, and prove who the guilty party is.
If you need help dealing with domestic violence, talk to the experts in this field. Feel free to contact us and we will provide you with the legal service that will help you overcome this difficult situation.