Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (18:42:37) — My adjournment matter is for the Attorney-General. The action I seek relates to the unintended gendered impacts of the government’s proposed mandatory sentencing reforms, and I note that they are yet to come before this house.
I have received representations from Fitzroy Legal Service, the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare and other peak bodies, whose concerns I share. They stress that the risk of a mandatory jail term for injuring a police officer may in fact have the unintended consequence of deterring victims of family violence from calling police for help in the first place, heightening their risk of harm and forcing family violence further underground. They provided two examples to me: families caring for loved ones with mental illness or drug problems choosing to manage those dangerous emergencies alone; and victims of family violence choosing not to call the police for fear of retribution from their partner should that call lead to their partner being locked up.
Where an injury under this proposed legislation means temporary mental harm, a significant pain or an injury that is more than superficial or trivial, it could occur incidentally in the course of an arrest, particularly where the family member is affected by mental illness, alcohol or drugs. The consequence is that someone who desperately needs police assistance may simply not call them because they are conflicted in their desire to protect their loved one. Certainly I heard comments made that it would just take this happening once — for example, in somewhere like the Fitzroy flats — and if happened once and one person was locked up, everyone in that whole community would be reluctant to call the police.
Accordingly the action I am seeking is that the Attorney-General, in recognising these potential effects, causes them to be monitored in a detailed and comprehensive way as part of the reforms that probably will go through this house shortly, with a mechanism to review the legislation should we see a flattening in family violence reporting or an increase in serious family violence incidents.