Family Violence Protection Amendment Bill 2017

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — I rise to speak on the Greens amendments to the Family Violence Protection Amendment Bill 2017. These are commonsense amendments put forward by the Greens spokesperson for women in the other place, Nina Springle. These enshrine in legislation a review of section 31(3) of that act, which is being changed by clause 32 of this bill. That particular clause extended the period between serving a family violence safety notice and the first mention date from five to 14 days.

This was done, as recommended by the Royal Commission into Family Violence, to ensure that those hearings are purposeful and useful. But it does come with risks, in that there could be a lack of legal representation for the victim for a longer period. Victims often do not engage with a lawyer until the first mention date, with increased uncertainty for victims and family members who at that particular time are potentially being subject to coercion and pressure from the perpetrator and others to recant allegations or to ask police to drop particular matters. With these changes there are some risks for victims, in that it could increase the period of vulnerability and their being left without the protection of a family violence intervention order despite being at risk of harm.

The royal commission did recommend that this change be evaluated, and so this amendment would require the minister to review those changes after two years in operation and to table a report of the review before each house of Parliament, with the review comprising an independent evaluation with a focus on unintended or adverse consequences, including increased risk, as recommended by the commission. As I said, these are commonsense amendments put forward by the Greens in the upper house that will safeguard the protection of women and all people suffering from family violence. We support the amendments.