Family violence: Police plan to tag abusers

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LOCAL family violence support groups have offered a cagey response to Victorian Police Association suggestions that domestic abusers should be made to wear electronic tags like paedophiles. 

WRISC Family Violence Support Ballarat case manager Bree Allingham-MacLaren said while a tag might help a court decided if an intervention order was breached, it wasn’t the best way to change a person’s behaviour.

“It will make women feel safer and give them that extra assurance as intervention orders can feel meaningless sometimes,” she said. 

“Using shame to try and reduce family violence isn’t an effective tool for behaviour change.”

Under the new proposal, which formed part of the Police Association’s election demands, those who breached intervention orders or family violence safety notices three times would wear electronic bracelets. 

Ms Allingham-MacLaren said ostracising men through a permanent tag could have the reverse effect.

“Some of them are abusive because they feel marginalised in the community,” she said. “We do want to work with them to change their behaviour.”

Ballarat White Ribbon Day committee chair Bob Maika said tags would might address the physical breaches of intervention orders, but abusers could still threaten victims via technology.

“The big question is would a woman or a family feel safer? They might feel safer, but it might not make a difference,” he said. 

“At the end of the day, men that are breaching intervention orders know full well they are legally breaching the order and they still do it. A (electronic) band might stop some men. Will it stop all men?” 

The police union’s plan includes restoring funding for the Victorian systemic review of family violence deaths; expanding the use of family violence safety notices; and establishing multi-agency teams of experts to respond to family violence.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews, who wants a Royal Commission to investigate the issue, said electronic monitoring should be considered.

“If serious sex offenders are electronically monitored, there is no reason why we should not be considering exactly the same for those who torture, abuse and for those who are potentially life-threatening towards women and children,” Mr Andrews told Fairfax Radio.

william.vallely@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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