In 2002, the Commission was asked to review the laws and systems in relation to family violence.
In November 2004, the Commission released a consultation paper. There were 86 submissions in response.
The Commission conducted extensive consultation with the community, Victoria Police, the courts and lawyers. A general advisory committee, a specialist advisory committee on culturally and linguistically diverse communities and a specialist advisory committee on people with a disability provided expert guidance for the review.
In August 2005 the Commission published the Interim Report, Family Violence: Police Holding Powers which recommended police officers have the power to remove, hold and detain people pending an application for an intervention order. This power was legislated in October 2005.
The final report was tabled in Parliament on 1 March 2006. The report made 153 recommendations to improve the response to victims from police, courts and the community. The key recommendations were:
- The introduction of a new Family Violence Act underpinned by a clear statement of the aims and purpose of the law
- A broad definition of ‘family violence’ that includes emotional and economic abuse, as well as physical violence; and a broad definition of ‘family’ to cover the modern notions of family, including carers of dependents
- A widespread community education campaign to change attitudes to family violence and to encourage respect
- The establishment of specialist lists within the court system, specialist prosecution and victim support service and funding for legal advice and representation for victims of family violence
- Training for magistrates on the impact of family violence, to ensure appropriate orders are made, including to protect children
- Improving physical safety at court and introducing other measures, such as video conferencing to make courts safer and more accessible
- Targeted and appropriate family violence services, support and information for indigenous people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities and people with disabilities.
In August 2005 the Commission published Family Violence Police Holding Powers Interim Report. The recommendations in that report were adopted in the Crimes (Family Violence) (Holding Powers) Act 2006.
In 2008, Parliament passed the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 that implemented many of the Commission’s legislative recommendations.
The legislative reforms are supported by whole of government family violence prevention initiatives, including Victoria’s Action Plan to Address Violence against Women and Children – Everyone has a Responsibility to Act, launched in 2012.
The Family Violence Protection Amendment Act 2014 made some changes to the operation of family violence safety notices and interim family violence intervention orders.