2006 VLRC review and the Sentencing Advisory Council
In 2006, the Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC) published a review of family violence laws. Many of the VLRC’s recommendations appear in the FVP Act and in subsequent amendments. Other recommendations have been taken up by Victoria Police and by various government departments.
The Victorian Sentencing Advisory Council has published reports about sentencing practices for the contravention of family violence intervention orders and safety notices, and about recidivism (reoffending) in contravention cases (see www.sentencingcouncil.vic.gov.au).
In 2014, the Victorian Government established a Royal Commission into Family Violence (RCFV). The RCFV began in February 2015 and released its report in March 2016. The report includes 227 recommendations that address prevention, risk assessment, education, resources, coordination and evaluation. There are a few recommendations about the FVP Act.
The Victorian Government has announced initiatives and funding to implement many of the RCFV’s recommendations. Some of the recommendations have already been implemented, including the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme, the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme (see “Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme”) and the Orange Doors (see “Orange Doors”). Other proposed reforms – including other procedural changes under the FVP Act, and rolling out a Family Violence Court Division (see “Family violence courts”) to 14 major Magistrates’ Courts throughout Victoria – are still to be implemented.
The Victorian Government has also created the Family Violence Reform Implementation Monitor. The monitor reports on the progress of the implementation of the RCFV’s recommendations, and on family violence reforms in general. The monitor started operating in 2017 and must publish progress reports as at 1 November of each year up to and including 2020.
The Royal Commission into Family Violence found that effective and appropriate sharing of information by organisations that work with survivors and perpetrators of family violence (e.g. court staff, the police, support agencies) is crucial to keeping survivors safe and holding perpetrators to account.
The Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme and the Child Information Sharing Scheme commenced in 2018. Under these schemes, a select group of prescribed information sharing entities (ISEs) are authorised to share information about victim survivors, alleged perpetrators, and third parties involved in family violence or child wellbeing or child safety (if relevant to assessing risk).
For more information about the Family Violence Information Sharing Scheme, including exactly what information can be shared, a list of ISEs, and the roll-out schedule for the scheme, see the family violence section of Victorian Government Department of Justice and Community Safety website at www.justice.vic.gov.au/safer-communities/protecting-children-and-families/family-violence.
For more information about the Child Information Sharing Scheme, including a list of the authorised organisations and professionals who may access and share information, see www.vic.gov.au/child-information-sharing-scheme.
The Royal Commission into Family Violence recommended the creation of 17 one-stop multi-disciplinary “support and safety hubs” (called “Orange Doors”) for women, children and young people experiencing family violence. It is free to access help and support at Orange Doors and no referral is needed.
Orange Doors are being rolled out from May 2018 to the end of 2021. Several Orange Doors have opened in Victoria, in the Barwon (Geelong), Bayside Peninsula (Frankston), Mallee (Mildura), north-eastern Melbourne (Heidelberg) and Gippsland (Morwell) areas (see “Contacts”). Other Orange Doors will be opened in the Central Highlands (Ballarat), Loddon (Bendigo) and Goulburn (Shepparton) regions.
For more information about Orange Doors, see https://orangedoor.vic.gov.au.