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Uncovering domestic violence; the respondent’s perspective

Ms Quentin Bryce is currently heading a State based taskforce into the responses to domestic violence. She is a remarkable woman committed to an important cause. Everyone would agree that domestic violence is a large and whole of community problem. However, as a legal representative for many respondents (or persons accused of domestic violence), I am acutely aware that the rights and liberties of individuals cannot be ignored as we tackle the problem of domestic violence. This week I presented at the Queensland Law Society on domestic violence laws. Below is a brief overview of the key points I sought to convey from the perspective of a criminal defence lawyer.

It is sometimes said, by practitioners, court support and police, that the making of a DV Order is no big deal as it is a civil order; rather than a criminal order. I don’t share this view. In RMR v Sinclair [2012] QDC 204 at [13], His Honour Judge Deveraux SC remarked that; “[t]he making of a [Protection] order is a serious matter. Orders should not be made lightly. Breaches involve, as the learned Magistrate said, community as well as personal concerns.”

A DV Order can clearly impact upon a person’s civil liberties. For example, restricting them to go certain places, see certain people, including their children, and generally their whole living situation and home environment. These are all significant matters.

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