New Changes to Domestic Violence Law
The Domestic Violence Act 1995 was designed to protect families from acts of violence through the granting of Protection Orders in the Family Court.
It was clear that there was a gap in the legislation whereby families were not protected due to the delay in obtaining Protection Orders in Court.
The new amendment to the Act brought into effect on 1 July 2010 bridges this gap and enables a qualified Constable to issue a Police Safety Order (“PSO”) on the spot. This PSO is designed to protect the family from the person offering violence and fills the gap between an incident occurring and the issuing of a protection order.
Who can grant a PSO?
A PSO can only be issued by a Police officer who is a Sergeant or higher. If one is not available to issue the PSO then they can authorise another Police officer who does not hold that rank to issue it on their behalf.
What does the PSO do?
A PSO works exactly like a Protection Order would, except that it is an interim fix and can remain effective for up to 5 days.
The PSO protects both the victim and the victim’s families; it can also be issued without the consent of the victim and automatically protects their children. The conditions of the PSO are similar to a Protection Order except that under the PSO the victim cannot consent to the alleged perpetrator residing with them.
Breach of a PSO
The breach of a PSO is an offence and is punishable by a fine not exceeding $500.
Failing to comply with a PSO may result in the Court:
- Extending the PSO for a further 1-5 days;
- Issuing a new Order if the old one has lapsed;
- Issuing a warrant to arrest the person; or
- Issuing a temporary Protection Order.
People and families at risk of violence do not have to suffer from the delays currently present in the Family Court. They can now be afforded the comfort of a Protection Order without the need to file urgent applications. The change is a successful legislative step in the prevention of domestic violence within our families.
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