Swift sentencing approach supported by McAuley

McAuley Community Services for Women is supporting a potential move to swift sentencing for family violence offenders in Victoria. The organisation has submitted its viewpoint to the Sentencing Advisory Council which is reviewing recommendation 83 in the Royal Commission into Family Violence in Victoria.

Jocelyn Bignold, CEO, said that the organisation’s viewpoint was founded on its experience of supporting women escaping family violence.

“We agree with reform that will put in place faster and simpler processes for serving family violence intervention orders, new measures to prevent abuses of the IVO process, allowing pre-recorded evidence to be used in some proceedings for family violence offences, and increased protections for children subjected to family violence,” she said.

“We also agree with court power to strike out appeals of an intervention order if the respondent fails to attend court as it will help to prevent perpetrators from harassing and intimidation victims by using delaying tactics.”

McAuley Community Services for Women is concerned that these changes are overdue and do not change the system which currently focuses after the act of violence has occurred.

“We need cultural change as well, and if swift and certain sentencing allows that to happen, that will benefit all Victorians,” Ms Bignold said.

Currently offenders in Victoria often wait months between the date they commit a crime and the date a court sentences them. This time lag can contribute to reduced effectiveness of the eventual punishment imposed on an offender.

McAuley stressed in its submission that no new approach to sentencing is likely to work without trained and adequately resourced policing; intervention orders have to have priority status in family court matters; and the need for effective coordination of safety and high risk management remains essential.

The full submission is available here: