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One in Four Court Cases in NSW Linked to Domestic Violence: Crime Stats

The number of defendants with a proven domestic violence charge increased by 3 percent within five years.

More than one in four defendants who have gone through the local courts in New South Wales (NSW) carry domestic violence charges, data released by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) showed.

According to BOCSAR’s Criminal Courts statistics, the number of defendants with finalised domestic violence charges increased by five percent within five years, from January 2019 to December 2023.

In 2023, out of 135,843 defendants finalised in the state’s local courts, there were 34,758 defendants with a finalised charge related to domestic violence offences, or 25.5 percent.

Meanwhile, in 2019, there were 25,507 defendants with a finalised charge related to domestic violence offences out of 127,054 total defendants, or 20 percent.

A case is finalised when the charges are proven or dismissed in court, withdrawn by prosecutors or are otherwise disposed of by transfer to a specialist court or tribunal.

Meanwhile, the number of defendants with a proven domestic violence charge increased by 3 percent within five years, from 19,987 defendants (15.7 percent) in 2019 to 25,460 defendants in 2023 (18.7 percent).

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The most common offences were acts intended to cause injury, followed by offences against justice procedures, government security and government operations.

In addition, the data showed court delays were up by 8.6 percent within five years, with the median time for all defended cases being 202 days in 2019 compared to 281 days in 2023.

The number of apprehended domestic violence orders (AVO) granted by the local courts also rose from 33,275 in 2019 to orders in 2023.

An AVO is an order to prohibit a defendant from doing certain acts against a person in need of protection.

It came after the Australian Bureau of Statistics data released in November 2023 showed 17 percent of women and 5.5 percent of men have experienced partner violence.

New Definition Of Domestic Violence

The revelation came following a change in the definition of domestic violence from Feb. 1, which expanded the scope of what’s considered domestic abuse.

According to section 6A of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act (pdf), the new definition of domestic violence means any behaviour in a domestic relationship that is violent or threatening, coercive or controlling or makes a person fear for their own safety or the safety of others.

The government noted that this new definition recognises that “abuse is more than physical abuse and could include verbal, sexual, emotional, psychological or financial abuse, or behaviour that controls a person or limits their freedom.”

A person can make an AVO if they can demonstrate that “there is fear of a domestic violence offence on reasonable grounds.”

However, critics have raised concerns that the move would disproportionately affect males and lead to an increase in false allegations, as personal grievances might compel some people to falsely accuse their partners of domestic abuse even when there is no evidence of injury.

“A violence protection order was supposed to be a shield rather than a sword,” argued men’s rights activist Bettina Arndt in a commentary on The Epoch Times.

“It was supposed to be about protecting a person, usually a woman, from future violence, not a weapon to be used by an angry or disgruntled woman to destroy a man.”

According to statistics from the Crime Survey of England and Wales in 2017-18, nearly half of male victims fail to tell anyone they are a victim of domestic abuse. Men are nearly three times less likely to tell anyone than female victims (49 percent and 19 percent) if they experience family violence.

Government Passed New Laws To Tackle Domestic Violence

On June 6, the NSW government passed laws to make it more difficult for alleged domestic violence offenders to get bail by requiring them to show cause why they should not be detained until their case is determined—reversing the presumption of bail.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of 14 or more years in jail.

If granted bail, these accused offenders will be subject to electronic monitoring, unless the bail authority is satisfied sufficient reasons exist—in the interests of justice—to justify not imposing the condition.

Full Stop Australia, which provides counselling and advocacy to support people affected by domestic and sexual violence, said the legislation was a “critical step in the right direction.”

“We welcome the announcement that serious domestic and family violence offending, and coercive control, will be subject to the requirement to ‘show cause’ that detention is not justified,” said Karen Bevan, CEO of Full Stop Australia (pdf).

“As the government has recognised, reforming bail laws won’t end the sexual, domestic and family violence crisis. But ensuring that bail decisions appropriately prioritise victim-survivor safety, and considers well-established risk factors, is one of many important steps.”

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