Front-line domestic violence workers believe more than 65 Australian women have lost their lives as a result of intimate partner or family violence this year.
Front-line domestic violence workers believe more than 65 Australian women have lost their lives as a result of intimate partner or family violence this year. Sherele Moody

Just 25% of thugs who breach DVOs go to jail

MORE than 24,000 Queensland family abuse thugs breached domestic violence orders in the past 28 months, but only a quarter of these perpetrators spent any time in jail.

The shocking statistics have spurred calls for courts to show no mercy to offenders who repeatedly harass, stalk, abuse and intimidate their victims.

An ARM Newsdesk examination of Queensland Government data reveals that 24,178 people were sentenced for DVO breach offences from July, 2014 to October 2016.

However, only 6380 of those offenders spent any time behind bars for disregarding court orders.

Just over 8720 Queenslanders breached DVOs in the 2014-15 financial year and 2206 of those offenders were jailed as a result.

In 2015-16, there was a massive increase in breaches with 11,225 offenders caught and 3094 jailed.

So far this financial year, 4226 abusers have breached DVOs and 1080 of those have been jailed.

According to Queensland Police, the number of domestic and family violence applications increased 19% from 25,143 in 2014-15 to 29,938 in 2015-16.

DVO offenders can be jailed for three to five years.

Front-line domestic violence workers believe more than 65 Australian women have lost their lives as a result of intimate partner or family violence this year.

Research shows that domestic violence order breaches are often precursors to family violence murders.

Women's Legal Service Queensland co-ordinator Angela Lynch said a lot of breaches were not being taken seriously by authorities.

"Our clients are reporting to us problems in getting breaches acted upon or taken seriously," Ms Lynch said.

"The end result is victims feel it's just a slap on the wrist.

"For some perpetrators, they feel it's a bit of a joke and that they can continue the harassment, intimidation and violence.

"Perpetrators will commit breaches to see how seriously the system will respond.

"If the system does not take the breach seriously, it's a green light for the perpetrator to keep going," Ms Lynch said.

"The fact reports are increasing is a good thing but it's probably an under representation."

Ms Lynch said courts needed to take a tough stance on all breaches so domestic violence victims knew their safety concerns were being taken seriously.

Opposition domestic violence spokeswoman Ros Bates said breaching protection orders must "carry serious consequences".

"I have said it over and over again, orders are not worth the paper they are written on if offenders don't fear the consequences of breaching them," Ms Bates said.

"We need to get out of the thinking there is such a thing as a technical breach.

"Maybe it's time we looked at making courts explain why they don't impose imprisonment for multiple breaches as well."

Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Shannon Fentiman said recent changes in legislation meant authorities were now required to put a note on perpetrators' criminal records identifying them as repeat offenders.

Ms Fentiman said this could lead to tougher sentencing.

"We are making significant changes to the way we respond to domestic and family violence, not only in our communities, but in our legal system," Ms Fentiman said.

"This includes vital changes that allow authorities to more easily identify repeat offenders by recording a person's previous domestic violence offending.

"This is an important reform designed to strengthen the judicial response and protect victims."

*For 24-hour support in Queensland phone DVConnect on 1800 811 811, MensLine on 1800 600 636 or the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.

Palaszczuk pushes for Australia-wide domestic violence leave

MORE than 200,000 Queensland public servants can now access domestic violence leave and there is a push to get other states and territories to follow suit.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will use the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra on Friday to urge her colleagues to follow in Queensland's footsteps and provide paid leave for workers affected by family violence.

Queensland and the ACT are the only governments with domestic violence leave as part of their employment conditions.

Ms Palaszczuk is also pushing for the leave to be added to the National Employment Standards.

"Family and domestic violence is a national issue and we need a national approach," she said.

"I would like to see family and domestic violence leave rolled out across the country."

Queensland full-time and part-time public servants get 10 days of domestic and family violence leave annually on full pay.

Long-term casual government workers will get 10 days of unpaid leave and short-term casuals will receive two days a year.

The leave may be used at any time but it does not accumulate from year to year.

Bosses can use their discretion as to whether or not employees provide evidence of abuse but they have been told they cannot share that information with anyone else.

Some of the country's biggest employers, including Qantas, Virgin, NAB, the Commonwealth Bank and Norco, have rolled out DV leave.

Deloitte Access Economics research shows about 800,000 Australian female workers experience domestic or family violence, costing the economy billions of dollars each year.

The research report said DV leave would reduce the financial impact on businesses, for example through absenteeism as a result of physical violence.

However, the Federal Government is resisting the move to roll out domestic violence leave across the country.

Minister for Women and Employment Michaelia Cash recently claimed domestic violence leave would be a "perverse disincentive" for employers to take on female workers.

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