Defining Domestic Violence in Protection Order Legislation: A Pilot Observational Study in the ACT
40(2) Alternative Law Journal: 113-117 (2015)
6 Pages Posted: 3 Jul 2015 Last revised: 31 May 2017
Date Written: June 29, 2015
The ACT Domestic Violence and Protection Orders Act 2008 has been identified as the domestic violence civil legislation in Australia that provides the least protection for victims of family violence since it neither mentions specific types of domestic violence within its definition nor provides examples. However our observation of 18 victims accessing assistance from the Legal Aid ACT Domestic Violence and Protection Orders Unit revealed that, despite the shortcomings in the definition, it is being widely interpreted by judicial officers at this time. Despite asking questions that focus on physical violence, judicial officers appear to be interpreting the definition broadly enough to reflect the applicants’ experiences. However, given that our findings do not include contested final hearings and a belief that indeterminate legislation is most vulnerable to practitioners’ values and biases, we recommend that the ACT legislation be amended to be more in line with other jurisdictions.
Keywords: Domestic violence, civil legislation, ACT, Australia
JEL Classification: K13, K30, K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation