5. A Common Interpretative Framework — Definitions in Family Violence Legislation

Recommendation 5–1 State and territory family violence legislation should provide that family violence is violent or threatening behaviour, or any other form of behaviour, that coerces or controls a family member or causes that family member to be fearful. Such behaviour may include but is not limited to:

  1. physical violence;
  2. sexual assault and other sexually abusive behaviour;
  3. economic abuse;
  4. emotional or psychological abuse;
  5. stalking;
  6. kidnapping or deprivation of liberty;
  7. damage to property, irrespective of whether the victim owns the property;
  8. causing injury or death to an animal irrespective of whether the victim owns the animal; and
  9. behaviour by the person using violence that causes a child to be exposed to the effects of behaviour referred to in (a)–(h) above.

Recommendation 5–2 State and territory family violence legislation should include examples of emotional and psychological abuse or intimidation and harassment that illustrate conduct that would affect—although not necessarily exclusively—certain vulnerable groups including: Indigenous persons; those from a culturally and linguistically diverse background; the aged; those with a disability; and those from the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities. In each case, state and territory family violence legislation should make it clear that such examples are illustrative and not exhaustive of the prohibited conduct.

Recommendation 5–3 The definition of family violence in state and territory family violence legislation should not require a person to prove emotional or psychological harm in respect of conduct against the person which, by its nature, could be pursued criminally.

Recommendation 5–4 The governments of NSW and the ACT should review the offences categorised as ‘domestic violence offences’ in their respective family violence legislation with a view to:

(a) ensuring that the classification of such offences falls within the proposed definition of family violence in Rec 5–1; and

(b) considering the inclusion of relevant federal offences committed in a family violence context, if they choose to retain such a classification system.

Recommendation 5–5 Incidental to the review of ‘domestic violence offences’ referred to in Rec 5–4, s 44 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)—which deals with the failure to provide any wife, apprentice, servant or insane person with necessary food, clothing or lodgings—should be amended to ensure that its underlying philosophy and language are appropriate in a modern context.