Domestic violence laws better protect victims

Published: 27 Nov 2018

Under the new changes, the default duration of Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs) will double and the new strangulation offence carries a five year prison term.

To boost protection for victims of domestic violence and help reduce reoffending, changes to the ADVO system will include:

  • Length of ADVOs increase from 12 months to two years.
  • Courts can grant indefinite ADVOs in severe cases.
  • ADVOs automatically extend for two years after an adult offender is released from prison, a period when risk of reoffending is high.
  • Senior police have power to immediately vary ADVOs in response to serious and immediate risks to victims, until a court can consider the matter.

Changes also affect the strangulation offence, which will carry a prison term of up to five years. Since 2014, less than one third of strangulation offences have resulted in a conviction. Proving the new strangulation offence is more straightforward so conviction rates will increase and the risk of police prosecuting an offender with the lesser charge of common assault will be reduced.

This new offence is crucial to holding offenders to account. Strangulation is a red flag for domestic violence homicide, so it is vital that perpetrators are charged with an offence that reflects the seriousness of this behaviour.

The changes, based on recommendations from the NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team Report 2015–2017, are part of a NSW Government program to reduce domestic violence reoffending. The new strangulation offence is expected to take effect by the end of 2018 and the ADVO changes by mid-2019.

Attorney General Mark Speakman said the proposed laws will boost protection for victims of domestic violence and help reduce reoffending.

“These potentially life-saving reforms are a key component of the NSW Government’s wide-reaching strategy to reduce the scourge of domestic violence,” Mr Speakman said.

“Research indicates ADVOs are an important tool to help reduce reoffending and these improvements will help victims get the urgent and ongoing protection they need.”

Where to get help

Support services that operate 24/7 include:

The Victims Access Line(external link) – 1800 633 063 operates Monday to Friday, 8am – 6pm (excluding public holidays).

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