DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAWS: QUICK FACTS
New domestic violence laws come into effect today in Australia.
From now on, domestic violence will not only be about physical abuse, but the definition has been widened to include:
- Repeated derogatory taunts;
- Intentionally damaging or destroying property; and
- Preventing someone having contact with family and friends.
The federal government hopes that the change will encourage more victims to seek help.
The message is: Just because you have not been physically hurt, does not mean you or your children have not suffered domestic violence.
The Federal Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, who has overseen the changes, said much family violence remained ”invisible to the legal system”.
“Unfortunately, more than half of the parenting cases that come to courts involve allegations by one or both parties that the other has been violent,” Ms Roxon said.
The new definitions of abuse will be taken into consideration in child custody cases.
The Family Law Act has been amended to say: ”A child is exposed to family violence if the child sees or hears family violence or otherwise experiences the effects of family violence.”
The new legislation has divided male and female activist groups.
The chief executive officer of the National Council of Single Mothers and their Children, Terese Edwards, said: ”It clearly sets out what behaviour is unacceptable, including physical and emotional abuse.”
Ms Edwards said the changes addressed the exposure of children to family violence, which increased the risk of ”behavioural and learning difficulties in the short term, and of developing mental health problems later in life”.
Barry Williams, president of the Lone Fathers’ Association is concerned that courts will now be too quick to believe allegations of abuse.
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