Victim survivors of family violence will be able to provide recorded statements via body-worn cameras, under new laws introduced by the Andrews Labor Government today.
The Justice Legislation Amendment (Family Violence Protection and Other Matters) Bill 2018 will allow for a recorded statement taken by police at family violence incidents – at trial sites in Epping and Ballarat – to be used as evidence in court.
The new laws build on the Labor Government’s rollout of the first stage of 150 body-worn cameras to police in Epping and Ballarat in April.
In total, 11,000 cameras will be deployed to police across the state by 2020, as part of the Government’s record $227 million technology investment which is modernising policing across Victoria.
The reforms will deliver on a key recommendation from the Royal Commission into Family Violence for a trial of the cameras which is supported by any necessary legislative amendment.
The Bill will also allow victim survivors to file family violence intervention order applications online by making a formal declaration of truth.
Additionally, for the first time, courts will be able to make interim family violence intervention orders on their own motion at any point during the criminal process, such as during bail hearings, committal hearings, during a trial, at sentencing, and on appeal.
This will allow the courts to act immediately to manage any risk to a victim’s safety based on material emerging from the proceedings, and may alleviate the need for victim survivors to apply for an interim order.
The reforms will also expand the examples set out in the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 to include dowry-related abuse and forced marriage – as examples of family violence.
Quotes attributable to Attorney-General Martin Pakula
“These laws will support victim survivors of family violence in the justice system and hold perpetrators to account.”
“Our reforms will allow for the use of statements and other evidence from family violence incident scenes – collected by police – in line with a recommendation from the Royal Commission into Family Violence.”
Quotes attributable to Minister for Police Lisa Neville
“The use of body-worn cameras in Ballarat and Epping is already proving their worth. The technology to collect statements at the scene of a crime will better support victims and help police and prosecutors hold perpetrators to account.”
“Body-worn cameras will be a critical tool to help police respond to family violence issues and other crimes in our community. We know that police respond to a family violence incident every seven minutes.”