Law gets tougher on violent perpetrators

Harsher penalties are now in force for domestic violence offences.
Harsher penalties are now in force for domestic violence offences. Patrick Woods

ABUSIVE spouses can expect to have the book thrown at them amid harsher domestic violence legislation introduced this year.

Following the 2015 Not Now Not Ever Report, the Queensland Government introduced a number of changes to the law to better protect victims of domestic violence.

First-time and repeat domestic violence offenders are now subject to increased maximum penalties of three and five years prison time respectively.

Non-fatal strangulation has also been listed as a stand-alone offence, with a maximum penalty of seven years prison.

Domestic and family violence offences can also now be recorded as convictions, which helps police and courts to better detect patterns of behaviour.

Victims are also better protected through greater police protection, longer and "more tailored” domestic violence orders increased to a minimum of five years, and they will have special victim status to reduce trauma when giving evidence in court proceedings.

Whitsunday Counselling and Support chief executive Steve Alexander said domestic violence cases increased after Cyclone Debbie and urged people to take steps to prevent escalation.

"It is important for our community to know there are support services available for people struggling to cope with post-trauma as a result of the cyclone or other challenges they might now be facing,” he said.

"We will be collaborating with other services and in particular Centacare, who recently received funding for post Cyclone Debbie counselling for the next two years.

"It often takes a lot of courage to ask for support, but we encourage community members doing it tough to give us a call and even if they don't fit our funded programs, we will find other agencies who can.”

Further systemic law changes in the domestic violence space include more information sharing between government and non-government entities, police powers to refer couples to a specialist domestic violence provider without consent if there is a threat to a person's life, health or safety, and amendments to the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme that allows for recognition of DVOs across Australia.

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