Nation-leading domestic violence reform to be explored

Nation-leading reform and further legislative amendments will be explored to address and prevent domestic and family violence in South Australia.

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman has outlined initiatives the Marshall Liberal Government is investigating, which will build on the meaningful action it has already taken.

“The face of Kobi Shepherdson is one we now recognise for all the wrong reasons - a nine-month-old taken too soon, at the hands of someone who was meant to protect her,” Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said.

“It is a crime that horrified the country, and, once again, forced Australians to think about what can be done to prevent it from happening.  

“I believe that for things to change, we have to change. That pertains to culture, governance and policy.

“It’s why I have asked my department to explore a number of potential reforms, so we can continue to build on the extensive progress we’ve already made in preventing domestic and family violence.

“These reforms are ambitious, but when it comes to preventing domestic and family violence, nothing is off the table,” she said.

Key initiatives the Government will investigate include;

  • Expanding the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme to include ‘Right to Know’ requests. This would mandate proactive disclosures by police to those deemed to be at risk of domestic and family violence. It builds on the current ‘Right to Ask’ model, which the Marshall Liberal Government committed $1.9 million to trial.
  • Potential further amendments to South Australia’s intervention order scheme to include supervision and reporting requirements.
  • Exploring the development of a domestic violence offender’s register, with a requirement for perpetrators to disclose this in certain circumstances.

“Further to this, I have written to the Director of Public Prosecutions and Commissioner of Police seeking their views on policies which exist in Tasmania and the ACT, which encourage a pro-arrest and pro-prosecution approach to domestic violence charges,” Ms Chapman said.

“This includes a policy which allows prosecutors to proceed with a matter even when a victim has asked to withdraw their statement to police. It is important we consider these options, because we do not want charges to be dropped when there is a reasonable prospect of conviction.

“However, action is required now, so I have committed $200,000 from the Justice Rehabilitation Fund to the Women’s and Children’s Health Network to deliver an early intervention program.

“This program will provide one-on-one intensive engagement and support to young people aged between 12 and 25 years who are pregnant or parenting and who are at risk of experiencing domestic and family violence,” she said.

At a national level, work is underway to ensure the Commonwealth’s Family Law Amendment (Federal Family Violence Orders) Bill 2021 will be seamlessly implemented in South Australia when it becomes law. The new orders will reduce the need for vulnerable families to navigate multiple court systems when they are already before a family court, saving them time and money, and allowing victims to access protection when they need it.

“While South Australia is leading the way on domestic and family violence reform, it is important we learn from our interstate counterparts and tackle this issue at a national level. That’s why I intend to partake in a Women’s Safety Meeting, comprising of all Attorneys-General, Ministers for Women, and Ministers for Police, regarding intervention order reform and next steps.

“I look forward to updating South Australia about our Government’s progress in reducing domestic violence and realising; not one more,” she said.

Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink said this work bolsters the Government’s record domestic violence funding.

“Our $21 million record domestic violence funding shows just how serious the Marshall Liberal Government is about ensuring South Australians at-risk are well supported and that we continue to work to eliminate all forms of violence,” Minister Lensink said.

Assistant Minister for Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Carolyn Power said it’s important to remember that every South Australian has a role to play.

“Our message to those experiencing domestic and family violence is – this violence is unacceptable, and support is available and ready for you,” Mrs Power said.