Mandatory jail for abusers who breach intervention orders
Abusers who violently and repeatedly breach court orders meant to protect their ex-partner or children would face up to a decade in jail, under new laws that look set to pass Parliament.
Changes would also remove the option for courts to fine violent abusers instead of sending them to jail in a bid to provide a stronger deterrent against family violence.
And breaches which expose a child to abuse or threats, such as to kidnap a child, would attract the highest penalties.
An intervention order can be put in place by police or courts to prevent an abuser from contacting, stalking, assaulting or being near a victim.
However, there is little monitoring and women have been killed while supposedly protected by intervention orders.
Last year Opposition MP Katrine Hildyard put a Bill to Parliament which proposed penalties of up to 12 years for breaches, and removing the option of a fine, but Attorney-General Vickie Chapman was initially reluctant to support it.
However, the pair reached an agreement this week and on Wednesday MPs passed the legislation through Parliament's Lower House.
The changes must still be approved by Upper House MPs to become law but this now seems likely with government support.
The renegotiated Bill would impose a maximum seven-year jail term on abusers who repeatedly breached an intervention order by committing or threatening a violent act.
That would rise to 10 years if it also involved a child.
Courts are also able to impose a fine of up to $20,000 but the new Bill would remove that option.
Ms Hildyard said women's safety services had told her fines usually went unpaid by abusers and did not act as a deterrent to breaching an order.
"This Bill is all about sending a message that domestic violence will not be tolerated," she said.
"Our community has absolutely had enough of the appalling violence happening against women and children."
An amendment by Ms Chapman - intended to prevent overburdening the court system - has retained the ability to fine abusers for the most minor breach, when they fail to attend a court-ordered behaviour change program.
The maximum on-the-spot fine for that breach will rise from $160 to $315, and the maximum court-imposed fine from $1250 to $2000.
The Advertiser has launched the Not One More campaign to lobby for better protection for potential victims of domestic violence.
Originally published as Mandatory jail for abusers who breach intervention orders