Recommendation 11–1 State and territory family violence legislation should make it clear that the making, variation or revocation of a protection order, or the refusal to make, vary or revoke such an order, does not affect the civil or criminal liability of a person bound by the order in respect of the family violence the subject of the order.
Recommendation 11–2 State and territory legislation should clarify that in the trial of an accused for an offence arising out of conduct that is the same or substantially similar to that on which a protection order is based, references cannot be made, without the leave of the court, to:
- the making, variation and revocation of protection orders in proceedings under family violence legislation—unless the offence the subject of the trial is breach of a protection order, in which case leave of the court is not necessary;
- the refusal of a court to make, vary or revoke a protection order in proceedings under family violence legislation; and
- the existence of current proceedings for a protection order under family violence legislation against the person the subject of the criminal proceedings.
Evidence given in proceedings under family violence legislation may be admissible by consent of the parties or by leave of the court.
Recommendation 11–3 State and territory family violence legislation should include an express provision conferring on courts a power to make a protection order on their own initiative at any stage of a criminal proceeding. Any such order made prior to a plea or finding of guilt should be interim until there is a plea or finding of guilt.
Recommendation 11–4 State and territory family violence legislation should expressly empower prosecutors to make an application for a protection order where a person pleads guilty or is found guilty of an offence involving family violence.
Recommendation 11–5 State and territory legislation should provide that a court before which a person pleads guilty, or is found guilty of an offence involving family violence, must consider whether any existing protection order obtained under family violence legislation needs to be varied to provide greater protection for the person against whom the offence was committed.
Recommendation 11–6 State and territory family violence legislation should provide expressly that one of the conditions that may be imposed by a court making a protection order is to prohibit the person against whom the order is made from locating or attempting to locate the victim of family violence.
Recommendation 11–7 Application forms for protection orders in each state and territory should clearly set out the types of conditions that a court may attach to a protection order, allowing for the possibility of tailored conditions. The forms should be drafted to enable applicants to indicate the types of conditions that they seek to be imposed.
Recommendation 11–8 State and territory family violence legislation should require judicial officers making protection orders to consider whether or not to make an exclusion order—that is, an order excluding a person against whom a protection order is made from premises shared with the victim, even if the person has a legal or equitable interest in such premises.
Recommendation 11–9 State and territory family violence legislation should provide that a court should only make an exclusion order when it is necessary to ensure the safety of a victim or affected child. Primary factors relevant to the paramount consideration of safety include the vulnerability of the victim and any affected child having regard to their physical, emotional and psychological needs, and any disability. Secondary factors to be considered include the accommodation needs and options available to the parties, particularly in light of any disability that they may have, and the length of time required for any party to secure alternative accommodation.
Recommendation 11–10 State and territory family violence legislation should require a court to give reasons for declining to make an exclusion order where such order has been sought.
Recommendation 11–11 State and territory family violence legislation should provide that:
- courts have an express discretion to impose conditions on persons against whom protection orders are made requiring them to attend rehabilitation or counselling programs, where such persons have been independently assessed as being suitable and eligible to participate in such programs;
- the relevant considerations in assessing eligibility and suitability to participate in such programs should include: whether the respondent consents to the order; the availability of transport; and the respondent’s work and educational commitments, cultural background and any disability; and
- failure to attend assessment or to complete such a program should not attract a sentence of imprisonment, and the maximum penalty should be a fine capped at a lower amount than the applicable maximum penalty for breaching a protection order.
Recommendation 11–12 Where appropriate, state and territory courts should provide persons against whom protection orders are made with information about relevant culturally and gender-appropriate rehabilitation and counselling programs.
Recommendation 11–13 State and territory legislation should provide that a court sentencing an offender for a family-violence related offence should take into account:
- any protection order conditions to which the person being sentenced is subject, where those conditions arise out of the same or substantially the same conduct giving rise to the prosecution for the offence; and
- the duration of any protection order to which the offender is subject.