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30 Jun 2015

Intervention Orders (Prevention of Abuse) (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill

The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN ( 16:12 :48 ): I rise to speak to the Intervention Orders (Prevention of Abuse) Bill 2015. The bill contains a number of amendments that will assist in the operation of the act. The act first came into operation in December 2011 and reformed the system of restraining orders by creating a new type of order, titled an ‘intervention order’, whilst also broadening the range of people who may be protected by them.

Many of the amendments in the bill currently before us are administrative in nature and have arisen as a result of comments and submissions from the Chief Magistrate, the Commissioner of Police and other government agencies who are responsible for the administration of these types of orders. In essence, the bill aims to strengthen our intervention framework by refining the extant law. The need for the changes to the law became apparent in the 2014 decision of Justice Peek in the Supreme Court case of Police v Siaosi. In this case, Justice Peek found the term ‘in the vicinity of’ was not within the powers conferred by the act.

Since that time, there has been considerable legal uncertainty in relation to the use of that terminology. As a result of that decision, the South Australian police and the Chief Magistrate have requested the amendments before the chamber so that intervention orders can be issued either by the courts or police and contain the term ‘in the vicinity of’, and such orders will be legally enforceable.

The bill also contains a transition provision to validate any existing intervention orders. The bill also facilitates electronic transfer of information between South Australia Police, the courts and relevant public sector agencies by allowing the provision of prescribed details of an order rather than a copy of the order itself. We understand that this bill, if enacted, will provide opportunities for greater efficiency in the administration of orders more generally and remove the need to duplicate data entry across the criminal justice sector and relevant agencies.

The bill also amends section 31 of the act to provide the court with the sentencing power to require perpetrators of domestic violence to bear the financial burden of an intervention program. Currently, intervention programs are only available in the Adelaide metropolitan area and are fully funded by the government. This amendment will give the court a discretionary power to order that when a defendant is convicted of a breach of an intervention order and the breach consists of physical violence or a threat of physical violence, they will be required to make payment towards the cost of any treatment program ordered as a condition of the intervention order.

The government has indicated that this cost recovery service will allow programs to be extended into regional areas. We support this initiative and assure the government that we will hold it to account on its commitment, as we believe that such treatment programs should be available across the state.

Another important aspect of this bill is the amendment of section 18(7), which makes it an offence for an offender to fail to provide an address for service to the police. This is a logical amendment, because even though at the moment a person who has an intervention order against them is required to notify the Commissioner of Police of any change of address, there is no legal consequence for them if they fail to do so.

The bill also makes necessary amendments to the Bail Act to give the court the power to order attendance at any treatment program as a condition of bail. As it is currently drafted, this can only take place if the defendant consents. The Liberal Party notes the concerns expressed by the Law Society that making compulsory attendance at the treatment program in the absence of consent is contrary to the presumption of innocence. In other words, it requires an act before a finding of guilt. The Law Society’s view is that it is undesirable for a court to require a defendant to undertake a program which assumes guilt. The Liberal Party has formed the view that given that it is within the discretion of the judicial officer, and also that the judicial officer may take into account the views of the impacted party, it will support this amendment.

The domestic violence statistics in South Australia cause all members in this parliament to pause and reflect, and engages them to support any initiatives that protect women in domestic arrangements. In Australia, the recent statistics tell us that on average one woman is killed every week as a result of domestic violence and that one woman is hospitalised every three hours. These statistics have informed the Liberal Party’s view and approach to this legislation, and this is why we are supporting it.

Also, alarmingly, intimate partner violence is a leading contributor to death, disability and ill-health in Australian women aged between 15 and 44 years. More particularly, the Liberal Party is informed by the horrific circumstances set out in the coronial reports of Zahra Abrahimzadeh and Robyn Eileen Hayward. It is our view that we should be seeking to support and engage in any endeavour which moves forward the protection of women and takes us away from having to read and respond to such horrific reports. The Liberal Party supports the bill; it does not at this stage seek amendment. I commend the bill to the chamber.

Debate adjourned on motion of Hon. T.T. Ngo .

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