New Domestic Violence Laws for Queensland from 1 August 2023

By Alecia Featherstone |08 August 2023 |Domestic and Family Violence-Articles

New Domestic Violence Laws for Queensland from 1 August 2023

As of 1 August 2023, Queensland has taken a significant step forward in combatting domestic violence with the commencement of the Domestic and Family Violence Protection (Combating Coercive Control) and other Legislation Amendment Act 2023. Of particular note are:

  • - Expanded definition of unlawful stalking, intimidation, harassment or abuse

One of the most notable changes pertains to the expanded definition of unlawful stalking, intimidation, harassment or abuse, which now includes additional forms of abusive behaviour. These new forms include monitoring, tracking, or surveilling a person’s movements, activities, or interpersonal associations without consent, including using technology.This amendment addresses the use of technology to intrude upon an individual’s privacy and safety. It encompasses actions like tracking or surveilling a person’s movements using tracking devices or drones, checking the recorded history in their digital devices, reading their SMS messages, monitoring their email accounts or internet browser history, and observing their social media platform or online social network activities.

  • - Publishing offensive material online to target a person

Another significant change is the inclusion of offensive material published on websites, social media platforms, or online social networks to target specific individuals. This measure aims to protect victims from cyberbullying and other forms of online harassment, recognising the serious harm such actions can cause.

With these expanded definitions, the new legislation seeks to address the growing concerns around technology-enabled abuse and online harassment in the context of domestic violence. By acknowledging these actions as forms of abuse, the law offers victims greater legal recourse and protection.

Additionally, the legislation also brings important changes to how cross-applications for domestic violence orders are handled. In the past, the court often issued cross-orders, attempting to provide protection for both parties. However, under the new legislation, this practice will occur far less frequently. Instead, the court will now thoroughly assess the situation to determine who is most in need of protection.

The court will consider various factors to make this determination, such as the history of the relevant relationship and domestic violence between the parties, the severity of harm caused to each individual, the level of fear experienced by each person, and whether one person has the capacity to cause serious harm or control and dominate the other person. Cross orders will only be issued in exceptional circumstances, where it is clear that both parties are in need of protection and it is impossible to determine whose need is greater.

To aid in making informed decisions, the court will also receive the respondent’s criminal and domestic violence history when evaluating any application. This information will help the court better understand the context and assess the potential risks involved.

These changes are a welcome development, as they promise to provide better protection for vulnerable individuals in Queensland and offer an improved approach to address domestic violence cases. By prioritising the safety and wellbeing of victims and employing a comprehensive assessment of the situation, the new legislation aims to prevent the issuance of inadequate or misguided orders and instead provide more targeted protection where it is most needed.

These enhanced domestic violence laws are a positive step towards a safer society for all Queenslanders. With these changes, victims can have more confidence in the legal system’s ability to protect them and take meaningful action against perpetrators, creating an environment where everyone feels safe, valued, and free from the fear of abuse.

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