Every week, one woman dies in her home as a result of domestic violence. Countless more cases of abuse occur behind closed doors and the effect on children is long-lasting.
As a result of this violence, victims desperately seek safety in our legal system by taking out an apprehended violence order. But our system fails to adequately protect these women, with one in two domestic violence orders breached each year.
This number represents a critical failure, one that requires a fresh approach by our political leaders. Women living in terror deserve better protection than the current illusion of safety.
We call on the Baird Liberal Government to support Labor's plan to provide better support to women facing domestic violence.
First, Labor will stop the cuts to womens' shelters, so women don't face the life-or-death dilemma of having to choose whether to stay in the home where violence occurs. Under the Baird Liberal Government’s Going Home Staying Home cutbacks, womens' refuges have suffered brutal cuts. These cuts have forced the closure of several shelters providing care to women in need, including the Killara refuge in Randwick, Erin’s Place in Marsfield, Blue Gum in the Blue Mountains and Katakudu women’s housing in Wyong. No shelter should be forced to close.
Second, Labor will overhaul the currently weak penalties for those who breach domestic violence orders. NSW laws for breaches of domestic violence orders are the weakest of any state. Only 12% of those who breach orders receive jail time for an average of four months. The most common penalty is a bond without supervision. This is unacceptable and represents little more than a slap on the wrist.
Third, Labor will introduce specialist sexual assault and domestic violence courts. These courts will be trialled in Sydney, the Hunter and the Illawarra. If successful, a Labor Government will move to a comprehensive rollout across NSW. Women suffering abuse should no longer have to seek justice in the overloaded and impersonal local and district court system. Victims of domestic violence deserve a streamlined system of justice instead of allowing alleged abusers to roam the community while cases languish on court lists for months.
Luke Foley and NSW Labor believe that NSW must protect victims of domestic violence. Add your name today if you agree.