New Laws to Protect Domestic Violence Victims
Strangulation is one of the most common and lethal forms of domestic violence. It can seriously affect a victim's long-term physical and psychological health and is a highly predictive indicator of future homicide.
Attorney General Mark Speakman and Minister for Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Pru Goward recently announced plans to introduce tougher strangulation laws and longer Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVOs) to provide domestic violence victims with greater protection in NSW.
The reforms respond to the recommendations of the NSW Domestic Violence Death Review Team Report 2015 - 2017 and are supported by a comprehensive program of activity which aims to reduce domestic violence reoffending.
RLC has long advocated for changing limitations around charging and convicting domestic violence perpetrators under the NSW strangulation offence. The Death Review Team Report highlights the link between strangulation and domestic homicide in recent cases examined by the Team, and the importance of responding effectively to this particular form of violence.
Over a six month period last year (May-November 2017), 54 women referred to RLC's domestic violence service, the Sydney Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service (Sydney WDVCAS), have reported they have been choked, garrotted or strangled; however, in the majority of these cases, the defendant was not charged with strangulation.
Under the new reforms, a simpler strangulation offence will be introduced that will be easier to prove, with a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment. As Mr Speakerman announced:
“The new offence will resolve the current situation whereby many strangulation incidents are being prosecuted under lesser charges such as common assault, for which the maximum sentence is two years imprisonment.”
RLC welcomes this announcement, which recognises the seriousness of the offence and implements recommendations from the Report and findings from the many Sydney WDVCAS cases where strangulation has been reported.
Download the full NSW Government media release below