In each jurisdiction, in order for a person to obtain a protection order under family violence legislation that person needs to be in a defined relationship with the person engaging in violence. The relationships covered by family violence legislation across the jurisdictions differ widely in some respects.
The Commissions have some concern that certain family relationships in Tasmania—such as between parents and children and between siblings—are afforded less legal protection and redress on breach of a ‘restraint’ order—than spouses and couples. In the Commissions’ preliminary view, the Tasmanian Government should review the operation of the Family Violence Act 2004 and the Justices Act 1959 pt XA with a view to establishing equality of treatment of family members who are victims of family violence.
The Commissions are interested in hearing whether this issue arises in other jurisdictions.
The disproportionately high level of family violence suffered by Indigenous women is a major issue. In the Commissions’ view, the persons protected by the family violence legislation of each state and territory should capture those who fall within Indigenous concepts of family, as well as those who are members of some other culturally recognised family group. The two jurisdictions that currently do not take this approach are Western Australia and Tasmania.
The Commissions are interested in stakeholder views as to whether relationships with carers—including those who are paid—should be included in the relationships covered by family violence legislation. The specific inclusion of carers, for example, would recognise the particular vulnerabilities of the elderly and those with disabilities, to family violence. However, the Commissions are interested in hearing whether the expansion of the definition to include such relationships poses any issues, including challenge in implementation.