Victorian government refuses to commit to ‘Right to Ask’ laws as NSW introduces historic domestic violence reform

Full Stop Australia chief executive Hayley Foster said the organisation was “thrilled” with the NSW government’s commitment, describing it as a step towards preventing domestic violence and protecting people.

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“We’re hoping that other states and territories will follow suit in what we see as a commonsense reform.

“This is an important step towards developing a national domestic and family violence offender register, similar to the existing sex offender register, to simplify the process of finding out about a partner’s history of violent behaviour no matter where they have lived.”

Chelsea Tobin, chief executive of Safe Steps, said Right to Ask laws were helpful as long as the process did not impose further trauma on domestic violence survivors.

“As with any legislation on domestic and family violence, it needs to be trauma-informed and recognise the complexity of coercive controling behaviours,” she said.

Even more pressing were issues around access to emergency accommodation for victim-survivors, Tobin said. She said more than 100 women and children checked in to hotels on Monday night because there was a lack of alternative options.

“This is the issue we want the government to commit to addressing. Right to Ask laws won’t have a significant impact on the women and children in danger tonight.”

Tania Farha, chief executive of Safe and Equal, said: “Schemes like a family violence offender register can look like a quick fix to prevent family violence, when what we really need is ongoing systemic reform and long-term social change.

“The Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence set out a road map for these reforms and, nearly seven years on, the foundations are in place for a whole-of-system response to family violence in our state.”

Victoria has invested more money and resources into domestic violence prevention than any other jurisdiction, according to the government.

While there was a 1 per cent dip in the number of family incidents attended by police in the 12 months to September 2022, there were still 91,500 recorded across the state.

If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).

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