Men breaching domestic violence orders
The extent of domestic violence order breaches across Australia has been revealed in previously unseen figures that show the majority of those convicted are let off with fines and community orders, prompting calls for urgent action after two horrific alleged murders in separate states.
More than 35,000 defendants faced court last year charged with breaching domestic violence orders, one of the key mechanisms for protecting victims of abuse. And while 87 per cent were convicted, most received a non-custodial sentence.
Advocates called for a tougher response as it emerged Queensland mother-of-three Kelly Wilkinson, allegedly burnt alive by her estranged husband in her backyard, and nine-month-old Kobi Shepherdson, taken by her father over a dam wall in South Australia, were both the subject of court orders.
Women’s Safety NSW chief executive Hayley Foster said a tougher and more consistent response to DVO breaches was needed.
“It’s not uncommon for us to hear from women that their complaints about breaches to police get dismissed or not prosecuted and for … an offender to breach an ADVO five, 10, 15 times, and be let off with a slap of the wrist,” she said.
Ms Foster said ankle bracelets had been assessed as having a positive impact, but cost was a key reason they were not used more widely and the government needed “to dig down deep”.
University of Melbourne professor of law Heather Douglas said fines were inappropriate.
“On one level, they suggest he just has to pay to hit her and on another level there’s a real risk the fine is coming from the household income and the impact is going to be on the kids and the mother,” she said.
More sentencing options were needed, including sending perpetrators to behaviour-change, addiction or mental health services, but not enough services were available, she said.
To read the full article by Nicola Berkovic and Mackenzie Scott for The Australian click HERE.