New laws to prevent child abuse cover-ups

The Napthine Government has introduced a bill to create new criminal offences to ensure that organisations protect children from abuse, remove known child abusers, and report suspected abuse to authorities. The Premier said, “This sends a clear, unambiguous message to the Victorian community: if you are aware of child sexual abuse you must speak up, you must report it to the police. The era of cover-up and silence is over.” The proposals are a response to the report of a parliamentary inquiry, which recommended changes to the criminal law. The Crimes Amendment (Protection of Children) Bill 2014 was read for the first time on Tuesday.

Newspaper launches campaign against family violence

A NSW newspaper has announced its plan to “Shine a Light on domestic violence”. In an editorial on International Women’s Day, it “launched a year-long campaign to illuminate the public and our leaders on what remains a national tragedy for a country that purports to be civilised, tolerant and safe.” The campaign began by highlighting failures of government, reporting on calls for domestic violence to be addressed in the primary school curriculum, and questioning whether defences to murder adequately protect victims of domestic violence. ┬áThe campaign comes in the wake of the NSW’s government’s new laws to address alcohol-fuelled violence, which critics say ignore the much bigger problem of family violence.

Jury asks judge about self-defence, acquits abused husband

A Supreme Court jury this week acquitted Phillip Bracken of the murder of his partner, accepting his claim that he shot her in self-defence after enduring years of abuse. The prosecution argued that shooting the unarmed woman was a “plainly disproportionate” response to her coming towards him. After days of deliberation, the jury asked Justice Maxwell to clarify the law of self-defence. His Honour explained that the key question was whether the accused had “a belief that what he did was necessary even if he is responding to a harm that is not immediate.” The jury was entitled to take into account the “cumulative effect” of years of emotional and physical violence in deciding the issue.