Debates Day 5 - Wednesday 17 October 2007
Parliamentary Record 17
Debates for 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; 10th Assembly 2005 - 2008; Parliamentary Record; ParliamentNT
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory
DEBATES Wednesday 17 October 2007 4847 Unfortunately, young people can also be the aggressors in violent family relationships. In recognition of this, orders can now be sought and made against a young person between the ages of 15 and 18. These orders will operate in the same way as orders against adults, with the court imposing both restraints and positive obligations such as attendance at an appropriate rehabilitation program where the young person agrees to this obligation. In addition to children, others in relationships that do not currently come within the scope of the Domestic Violence Act will be able to seek protection under the new act. People who are betrothed, engaged or in a dating relationship or in a carers relationship are also covered by the bill. We have included these people and relationships in the bill because the same controlling behaviours that characterise domestic violence can also be experienced by people not married or living together. This category is drafted to specifically include promised wives to ensure they are not intimidated or harassed into having a sexual relationship with their betrothed before the age of 16 without the young womans consent. The bill will also simplify processes regarding Domestic Violence Orders. There will be two general types of orders that can be sought and made: court orders; and police orders. Court orders are made via the usual process; that is, by a standard application to the court by an applicant, to be now known as a protected person, or a police officer on their behalf. Police orders are those made by an authorised police officer in urgent circumstances where it is not practicable to obtain a court order, but where an order is necessary to ensure the safety of a victim. Police orders are generally made in remote and regional areas. The introduction of police orders as an alternative to telephone orders made by a magistrate was an amendment the government made to the Domestic Violence Act in 2005. Police orders have worked well and been taken up by police as a matter of priority in their on-the-ground work. Effective policing is essential to the success of any domestic and family violence regime. Their support in the development and, in the future, the application of the new regime is vital, and I am sure it is appreciated by all here as well as the community at large. Magistrates orders made over the phone by a magistrate will be abolished under the new bill as both police and magistrates advised that they have been made redundant with the introduction of police orders. The definition of police orders is broadened by the bill so that it is clear that officers can issue a police order to ensure the safety of a victim. The threat to the victim does not need to be immediate as it was previously. Defendants the subject of police orders and protected persons will have the right to request a review of a police order to a magistrate. To address a current procedural anomaly, the bill will introduce a system by which the terms of an old order will continue to apply to a defendant unless and until they are served with the new or varied order. This avoids a gap that exists under the current act. The bill continues to make provision for consent orders where parties choose to have an order in place to manage the nature of their relationship. The bill introduces a new order that can be made in criminal proceedings regardless of whether the proceedings take place in the Magistrates or the Supreme Court. Where a person pleads guilty to, or is found guilty of, an offence such as stalking or intimidation with intent to cause fear or harm, or where a domestic violence offence was committed, the court can make a Domestic Violence Order in addition to any sentence imposed. The order will operate in the same way as any other Domestic Violence Order, and can be imposed on application by parties or on the courts own initiative. This order will continue independent of the sentence imposed for the offence. The bill also reflects careful consideration regarding the grounds for obtaining an order. During consultation, there was some support for a model that focused on the fear experienced by the victim. The Law Society, for example, raised concerns that the person in a domestic relationship should, in fact, hold fear for their safety. These views have been carefully considered. Following discussion with police, and in light of the aims of the reform, a model has been drafted that allows the court to make an order where there are reasonable grounds for the protected person to fear the commission of domestic violence. The test is simple, objective and will work as easily for applicants who seek an order on their own behalf as it will for police where they seek an order on behalf of a victim. In one of the key aspects of the bill, domestic violence is defined by reference to a set of behaviours not currently covered by the existing act such as economic abuse, sexual assault, stalking, intimidation, coercion, damage to animals and acts which, if repeated, indicate a continuing pattern of abuse. These are in addition to the commonly known domestic violence behaviours such as assault, threats and damage to property. The inclusion of economic abuse and intimidation in the definition of domestic violence recognises that socially isolating the victim from
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