I rise to speak on the Stalking Intervention Orders Bill 2008.
This bill essentially seeks to preserve the current system of
stalking intervention orders, with minor and technical changes, until the
stalking intervention order system can be comprehensively reviewed by the
Department of Justice.
To provide some background to this, the Victorian Law Reform
Commission’s report on its review of family violence laws recommended that
family violence intervention orders, and thereby implicitly stalking
intervention orders, between non-family members should be dealt with in separate
legislation. On 12 September this year the Family Violence Protection Act 2008
was passed by Parliament. The act will repeal the Crimes (Family Violence) Act
and create an enhanced system of family violence intervention orders and a new
system of police-issued family violence safety notices. However, it is not
intended that stalking intervention orders will be made under the Crimes (Family
Violence) Act once it is repealed.
As I have mentioned, the key feature of this bill is that it is
essentially an interim measure; it is a stopgap measure to preserve the current
system of stalking intervention orders until it can be comprehensively reviewed
by the Department of Justice. I understand that review has already commenced.
The review was actually foreshadowed in the second-reading speech for the family
violence protection legislation, and it was reiterated in the second-reading
speech for this bill, and a subsequent media release also accompanied its
introduction. The scale of the family violence act and the significant policy
work needed to ensure careful reform of the stalking intervention orders system
has meant that these two projects have not been conducted simultaneously.
The Stalking Intervention Orders Bill that is before us this
evening essentially preserves the existing system of stalking intervention
orders under the Crimes (Family Violence) Act, pending the review, with the
necessary technical changes.
The technical changes that are involved in this piece of
legislation involve aligning the firearms and the bail provisions in the
Stalking Intervention Orders Bill with the Family Violence Protection Act. This
is necessary to ensure that there is no confusion about how these matters are
dealt with procedurally and to maintain the current system of stalking
intervention orders pending the review.
The other area involves a minor change. The act will be
restructured and its terms redefined to provide greater clarity. It will update
the search and seizure powers so that they parallel the provisions under the
Family Violence Protection Act. This is necessary to ensure that there is no
confusion, again, about police powers to enter and search premises in intervention
order matters, pending the review of the stalking intervention orders system
review. The provisions will not be changed to parallel the Family Violence
Protection Act provisions, as it is believed this would involve too great a
change in policy before the actual review of the stalking intervention orders
Can I say that I personally welcome the review that is
currently being conducted. There was a passage in my life, an unfortunate part,
where I did have to take out an intervention order. It was a non-family
situation, and it probably would have been covered by clause 4(1)(a) and clause
4(1)(b)(x). It did not go to those elements that the public generally would
identify as stalking — those that are often conveyed in TV police drama series
or in the newspapers; it was a different set of circumstances. This review
recognises those different circumstances, whether they be with neighbours, in
the workplace or in the situation of a carer. I think this review should be
It is much needed and has been for some time.
Many people take out intervention orders because they know no
other way to try to stop the bad behaviour that is being directed towards them.
As Ms Pennicuik mentioned, there may be other ways to resolve the situation.
There may be situations where it is appropriate to hold negotiations to bring
about changed behaviours and a settlement that can provide the person —
referred to as the second person — with some semblance of belief that the
action or the threats will cease and that they will be able to go back into a
safe environment. I congratulate the government for seeing the need for a
thorough review and for seeing that stalking as it stands at the moment takes a
number of forms, ranging from threatening to actually perpetrating violence on
the so-called second person.
In essence we have a few changes here in the bill, and they are
brought before us tonight to avoid confusion that may result from having two
slightly different systems operating alongside each other — one in relation to
the Family Violence Protection Act and the other in relation to stalking
intervention orders. The bill will bring the provisions regulating firearms,
bail, search and seizure powers, and the penalties for a breach of an
intervention order into line with those in the Family Violence Protection Act,
and this will assist police and the courts in their roles as implementers and
enforcers of the intervention order system.
I commend the bill to the house, and I look forward to a full
and comprehensive review of the stalking intervention orders.