As the NSW parliament debates amendments to family violence legislation, new research shows that some victim-survivors are being charged as offenders instead, while children are not being protected.
The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research reported an increase in the proportion of women being identified as domestic violence offenders from 10 per cent of offenders in 2001 to 18 per cent of offenders in 2012.
Last year, 22 per cent of people against whom there were proceedings for domestic assault in NSW were women.
Women who fight back in a single incident often do so in self-defence and they will admit to doing it. In these instances, they are often charged where their male partner is not.
Under the NSW Crimes Act, police are the only authority that can make the application for children to be listed on a violence order as a protected person. In doing so, they have the power within the Family Law Act to “override, suspend or vary an existing parenting order”.
However, police appear anxious not to contradict Family Court rulings or to deal with their complexity. The report says that “reluctance to do so can be correlated with cultural factors and inherent beliefs surrounding a father’s right to their children”.