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Published: 21 September 2017
Author: Cherieanne Carmichael

New Victorian law for victims of family violence

In family law, we are on the front line of family violence and are witness to the financial, emotional and psychological trauma it creates, predominantly for women and children.

We also see the havoc that violence creates and how challenging it can be for women to break through the cycles of violence.

For this reason, we welcome a new scheme designed to revoke fines for victims of family violence. As confirmed in a recent article in The Age, family violence victims will have toll road and parking fines waived under laws to be introduced to Victorian Parliament.

Fines are revoked in new scheme

To someone with no experience of domestic violence, it would seem inconceivable that perpetrators actually torment their victims by using their victim’s cars to deliberately accumulate fines, but this is a harsh reality. The law intends to address this issue.

As outlined in The Age article the scheme will:

  • Allow domestic violence victims to apply to have fines withdrawn without naming the perpetrator
  • Ensure victims who are fined after being forced to use their car in response to family violence, including fleeing dangerous situations, will also be eligible to have their fines scrapped
  • Enable victims to submit statutory declarations and documents such as intervention orders or family violence safety notices in order to have the fines revoked and will
  • Cover failure to vote fines but not dangerous driving offences such as speeding or drink driving.

While this scheme will by no means solve the growing problem of domestic violence in Australia, it is a small step in making life more manageable for victims.

Under current law, victims are currently required to wrongly admit to committing the offence or identify the driver, which can put them at risk of further harm.

The new laws will be introduced to Victorian Parliament on Tuesday. 

The shocking reality of domestic violence

The domestic violence statistics in Australia are nothing short of shocking. The Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria reports:

  • 1 in 4 Australian women experience intimate partner violence
  • 1 woman is killed in Australia by a partner or ex almost every week
  • A woman faces an increased risk of being killed or seriously injured when she leaves or is separating from an abusive partner
  • 3 women are hospitalised each week in Australia with a traumatic brain injury caused by their partner or ex
  • Victoria Police family violence reports are going up
  • Children are present in 1 out of every 3 family violence cases reporter to police
  • Aboriginal women are 35 times more likely to be hospitalised by family violence than other women
  • Women and girls with disabilities are twice as likely to experience violence as those without
  • Of clients accessing specialist homelessness services, 33% are escaping family violence
  • Intimate partner violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and illness in Victorian women aged 15-44
  • Growing violence against women costs the Australian economy $21.7 billion, compared with $13.6 billion in 2009.

We urge any victims of domestic violence to call Ryan Carlisle Thomas on 1300 366 441 for a no obligation hour of legal counsel at no charge. If you do not have the means for legal services, we can help you identify your best way forward and refer you to additional services.