There are many types of behaviour in Australia that may be considered un-Australian, but there are two specific kinds that from time to time get a lot of media attention. The other is acts of family violence which are virtually ignored until the victim exposes the perpetrator. In both cases there is some protection for victims and there are penalties under Victorian state law for those who contravene the law.
Over the last week new Victorian Government proposals for legislation are this time aimed at those who have been given responsibility for children. The proposal suggests that 5 year prison sentences will be imposed if those responsible for children either fail to protect them from sexual assault or withhold information of incidences of sexual assault against them. It will be a criminal act if known child abusers are protected, too.
Premier Denis Napthine announced this decision after recommendations that emanated from the Victorian Parliament’s acknowledgement of child abuse by religious or other organisations after an inquiry into the situation in Victoria.
The inquiry was initiated by former Premier, Ted Baillieu, in the report named Betrayal of Trust. It has been recommended that what has been termed the “grooming” of children and the newly labelled offence of “endangerment”, where people in authority fail to take measures to protect children, be punished.
Domestic violence, in particular violence against women, hides behind another dirty veil in Australia. This has only been uncovered when the victim holds her (sometimes his) head high and tells the world about what has been happening behind closed doors.
If an incidence of domestic violence involves assault or the threat of assault, this is considered a crime which is punishable by state law. Often, to prevent the need for a charge or conviction, civil proceedings can take place under the Family Violence Protection Act (FVPA) 2008 (Vic).
This can mean a number of things, which can include prohibiting the perpetrator from committing an act of family violence against the person who is being protected, keeping that person away from the residence of the person who is being protected and preventing the person from coming into contact in any way at all including the use of the telephone unless accompanied by a police officer. If the person contravenes the order than a prison term of up to two years or a fine up to 240 penalty units or both is a distinct possibility.
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