New legislation to protect victims of stalking and threat-based offences are a step towards addressing serious shortcomings in the legal process, according to one state MP.
The new laws will mean the perpetrators of stalking and threat offences won't be notified if a victim makes an application through the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal - there have been cases in the past where perpetrators have attended court, or even put tracking devices on victims' vehicles, as they knew exactly where they would be, Hinch Justice Party MP Stuart Grimley said.
"What this amendment does is alleviate that unnecessary burden being placed on victims," he said.
"It now means victims can go through vocat process knowing they'll be kept safe - all these types of offences are threat offences, they cause an immediate impact and fear on a victim, especially in a rural setting."
There were 190 stalking, harassment and threatening behaviour offences recorded in 2021 in Ballarat, according to the Crime Statistics Agency.
A recent paper from the Sentencing Advisory Council revealed high rates of recidivism for people convicted of stalking offences, particularly in a family violence context, as well as concerningly high rates in regional areas.
It calls for improved access to rehabilitation programs, particularly in regional areas, however Mr Grimley said far more must be done, noting long waiting lists and other problems.
"We've heard of courses for male perpetrators being conducted in ways where you have younger groups of men with older groups of men doing the same program, and we're hearing from the course coordinators that the older men are negatively affecting the younger ones who are really trying to change their behaviour," he said.
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"We're looking to have a separate younger men's rehabiltation program, even if it's a trial in a certain area.
"A lot of people want to change and if they can't get in they can't change, it's as simple as that - but we're also hearing a lot of programs that are available aren't best practice.
"The government in particular needs to be utilising its billions in family violence for very targeted approaches to deal with this issue."
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