SA Labor vows to abolish domestic violence intervention fee

VOW: SA Labor has vowed to abolish the $297 processing fee victims of domestic violence must pay to have their case processed by the courts, should Labor win the next election. Picture: Shutterstock
VOW: SA Labor has vowed to abolish the $297 processing fee victims of domestic violence must pay to have their case processed by the courts, should Labor win the next election. Picture: Shutterstock

Two women walk into a police station, one with physical injuries and the other without.

Police file a report for the battered woman, covering the costs to impose an interim intervention order on her perpetrator; the other woman is told to pay $297 to file a domestic violence intervention order with the court.

This is a scenario described by former Victims of Crime Commissioner Michael O'Connell in his column published in this newspaper in an Australian Community Media campaign earlier this year seeking to abolish the fee charged for private domestic violence intervention orders.

Now, SA Labor has vowed to scrap the fee should it win the next state election. The party has moved a Bill and is calling on the Liberals to support it.

In January, Mr O'Connell, a former police officer who served as SA's inaugural Commissioner for Victims' Rights between 2006 and 2018, said many of the women who took private action were subject to "coercive control" by their partners.

He said this meant it was difficult for them to initiate legal action, gain access to household finances and apply for the fee to be waived.

He said: "We should not put an obstacle in the way of those people who need help."

Katrine Hildyard, the Opposition's spokeswoman Women and the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, said it was incumbent on all parliamentarians to do whatever was within their power to prevent and end "the horrific prevalence of domestic violence".

"There has been a nine per cent growth in domestic violence-related offences last year - it is crucial to urgently act so those experiencing or at risk of experiencing domestic violence can speedily access intervention orders without undue barriers," she said.

"Labor has taken another important step forward in addressing the scourge of domestic violence.

"Ending domestic violence means taking real action to do so.

"I call on the state government to indicate its support for this Bill next sitting week, to urgently progress Labor's other Bills and to better resource the prevention measures to ensure that there is not one more."

Ms Hildyard spoke of the ACM report in her speech introducing the Bill to the House of Assembly on November 17.

This week she commended the publisher for taking a stand: "I think it is so important that no matter what you do, no matter what your sphere of influence is, you raise awareness and generate discussion of issues."

A State Government spokesperson said: "The State Government is considering the Bill."

They advised that the fee payable on lodgement of a private application for an intervention order may be 'waived', with applications assessed on a case-by-case basis.

The majority of applications for fee waivers over the past four years were accepted.

This story SA Labor vows to abolish domestic violence intervention fee first appeared on Port Lincoln Times.