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Domestic violence: Is it on the rise?

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May 6, 2016

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Domestic violence is undoubtedly one of the most publicised areas of crime in Australia, particularly in Canberra since the death of Tara Costigan at the hands of her partner. The issue is at the forefront of the minds of legislators and the Courts in the Australian Capital Territory. Recently the former federal Labor leader Mark Latham claimed domestic violence was actually decreasing since 2007. But do the figures add up? According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), there was a peak in domestic violence-related homicides in Australia in 2007, and […]


Barbaro and sentencing practice in Queensland

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April 21, 2016

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On the 19th of April 2016 the Attorney-General for Queensland, the Honourable Yvette D’ath, [LINK: http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2016/4/19/barbaro-amendments-herald-important-changes-for-legal-profession] announced the passing of amendments to the law in Queensland which will “reinstate the ability of a court to receive submissions from both prosecution and defence on the appropriate sentence, or the bounds of the range of appropriate sentences that should be imposed.” This announcement likely relates to the passing of the Criminal Law (Domestic Violence) Amendment Bill (No.2) 2015 which, according to the Attorney-General, was necessary “to improve the consistency of sentencing and efficiency […]


Grant Davies and spousal witnesses

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March 17, 2016

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The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has continued to produce shocking revelations about the actions of people who didn’t do what they should have done when allegations of Child Sexual Abuse were brought to their attention. Grant Davies had pled guilty to abusing more than 10 children he was teaching dance to. Whilst over the years many people had brought the matter to the authorities’ attention, in this manner the complaint that finally brought about Police action was made by Grant Davies’ wife and other members of […]


Amendment to the Criminal Procedure Act

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August 20, 2015

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An amendment to the Criminal Procedure Act which commenced 1 June 2015 has fundamentally changed the way in which Domestic Violence hearings will be conducted in New South Wales Courts. The amendment allows alleged victims to give their evidence by way of a video recording taken on the day that the complaint was made. This is not a new procedure in New South Wales Courts. For many years now the Court has allowed children to give evidence of allegations of sexual abuse by video. The children are interviewed by specialist officers […]


Domestic Violence and Electronic Tagging

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June 23, 2015

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With the naming of Rosie Batty as Australian of the Year, domestic violence offences have been brought to the forefront of government agenda and media scrutiny. These type of offences have become increasingly visible in the public eye, moving away from the ‘silent’ crime it once was. In recent weeks, there has been a call, led by Ms Batty, for the government and judiciary to consider using electronic tagging devices to monitor perpetrators of domestic violence. At a cursory glance, it sounds like a good idea and it has been praised […]


ACT Domestic Violence and Protection Orders

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April 30, 2015

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The ACT’s protection-order regime is very different to that in place in surrounding NSW. Generally in NSW, police are the applicants after being called to an incident. More often than not, the police application for an order comes after a criminal charge has already been laid by them for an incident of domestic violence. Individuals are able to seek Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders in NSW, but it is not the common practice that it is in Canberra. Under the ACT’s Domestic Violence and Protection Orders Act, an individual (the Applicant) approaches […]


Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Courts

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January 5, 2015

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Domestic violence is a problem that is not easy to solve. Despite concerted efforts from police, the government, judges and magistrates to name just a few, the problem doesn’t appear to be getting better. Far too frequently, it ends in tragedy. We are constantly greeted by shocking headlines in newspapers about cases where domestic violence results in serious injuries or even death. Even more shockingly, it is often claimed that better intervention by authorities may have saved the victim’s life. That may be true. Police resources are stretched, and officers have […]


Education the Answer to Domestic Violence

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December 5, 2014

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It seems that deaths arising from an abusive relationship or domestic violence in Australia are increasing at an alarming rate. Recently, the deaths of Kate Malonyay, Warriena Wright, Lisa Harnum and Luke Batty have brought to attention the prevalence of domestic violence in our community. Indeed, Beyond Blue has labelled the current situation as an “epidemic” of violence. Domestic and family violence can take many forms. It involves violent, abusive or intimidating behaviour carried out by a partner, carer or family member to control, dominate or instil fear. This abuse can […]


The Oscar Pistorious Trial

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October 20, 2014

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The Oscar Pistorious trial started a million conversations all over the world. Whether it was domestic violence, gun control or South Africa's horrific crime rate, the trial was something that almost everyone has an opinion about. Now that it is over and we have a verdict, the interest level seems to only have increased. As a criminal defence lawyer, there were two main points of interest for me. The first is the lack of a jury. South Africa abandoned the jury system in 1969. The justifications for this change are complex, […]


Simmering Controversy – Offenders Who Commit Domestic Violence in Their Own Home

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October 24, 2013

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There has long been a simmering controversy in the Court of Criminal Appeal about the way in which offenders who commit domestic violence in their own home should be treated. Section 21A of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act lists a number of factors that can make an offence more or less serious. These are general factors that are designed to be as broad as possible and assist a Court in working out how serious an offence is. One of the factors that is listed as an aggravating feature is that the […]

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