In 2001 the Commission was asked to review the law on defences to homicide. The review concerned how differences in culpability for killings should be taken into account in Victorian law.
The Commission published an options paper in 2003 and conducted extensive consultations. The Commission’s final report on defensive homicide was tabled in parliament on 18 November 2004.
The Commission recommended the abolition of the partial excuse of provocation, changes to the definition of self-defence, the recognition of excessive self-defence as a partial defence and the introduction of expert evidence about family violence.
The Commission’s recommendations sought to reflect appropriate culpability for homicides that occur where there has been ongoing family violence.
The Crimes (Homicide) Act 2005 implemented the Commission's major legislative recommendations, including creating a new offence of defensive homicide as an alternative to murder.
As recommended by the Commission, the Department of Justice commenced a review of the operation of defensive homicide laws in 2010, five years after the introduction of the changes. In June 2014, the government introduced a bill to abolish defensive homicide on the grounds that it was not operating as intended. This was based on evidence that defensive homicide was predominantly being relied upon by men who killed other men in violent confrontations, rather than women who kill in the context of family violence.
The Crimes Amendment (Abolition of Defensive Homicide) Act 2014 came into operation in September 2014. The Act seeks to address the issue of homicide in the context of family violence by simplifying self-defence and introducing jury directions on family violence.