On 18 October 2023, the Victorian Government introduced the Crimes Amendment (Non-fatal Strangulation) Bill 2023 into Parliament.
The Bill includes two streams of offences:
- a five-year intentional non-fatal strangulation offence which does not require proof of injury and includes a consent defence; and
- a ten-year non-fatal strangulation offence with intent to cause injury.
As the peak body for specialist family violence services in Victoria, Safe and Equal welcomes initiatives that bring attention to non-fatal strangulation, as it is deeply connected to family violence risk, serious injury, and significant harm to victim survivors’ psychological and physical wellbeing.
Over the last few years, we have provided advice to the Victorian Government to ensure that efforts to address non-fatal strangulation take the holistic approach needed to safeguard victim survivors, hold perpetrators to account, and minimise unintended consequences.
The effectiveness of any legislation comes down to its implementation and we are committed to working with the Victorian Government and the broader service system to ensure the roll-out of these new offences achieves the best outcomes possible for victim survivors.
Responding effectively to family violence requires robust, collaborative responses from all parts of the community and service system – and should not be limited to a justice response. Alongside the introduction of this legislation, we recommend the Victorian Government invest in:
- upskilling relevant workforces (including the specialist family violence workforce, medical and hospital workforces, and Victoria police) to respond to the presentation of strangulation, and to provide appropriate long-term health and other supports
- society-wide awareness raising and education approaches.
Criminal justice responses do not necessarily lead to perpetrator accountability or victim survivor safety, and perpetrators can continue to abuse victim survivors in multiple ways; including prior to a trial process, from prison, and via the justice system itself. Therefore, we also urge the government to implement processes and programs that can hold perpetrators to account outside of the criminal justice system.
Further detail on the introduced offenses can be seen here.