I seek leave to make an explanation before directing a question to the Minister for the Status of Women on the subject of domestic violence intervention orders.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: On the weekend, the Director of the Women's Legal Service of South Australia, Zita Ngor, agreed with some allegations made by a domestic violence victim that delays in police serving domestic violence intervention orders are common. It is my understanding that some police officers will not issue a domestic violence intervention order unless the defendant is present, which leads to delay, despite the intention of the act to 'assist in ensuring victims are protected from further violence in an efficient and prompt manner'. Domestic violence intervention orders are a key part of the government's Women's Safety Strategy and delays in the issuing of the orders are contrary to the intention of the act. My questions are:
1. Is the minister aware of the delays and has she raised them with either her colleague the Attorney-General or the Minister for Police?
2. Is the government satisfied that the current process of police officers serving domestic violence intervention orders only when the defendant is present offers domestic violence victims appropriate protection?
3. Has the rollout of the training of SAPOL officers been completed? If so, does the training package need to be amended and reissued?
The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, Minister for Forests, Minister for Regional Development, Minister for Tourism, Minister for the Status of Women) (14:33): I thank the honourable member for her most important questions. Indeed, the new intervention orders reforms were a major initiative of this government. I also read in the paper recently the story of a particular woman who talked about her own personal situation where she alleged that the intervention orders were delayed significantly.
In relation to that particular case, I understand that her personal situation is being investigated to see what has occurred and if improvements do need to be put in place. That is under investigation at the moment, and I obviously cannot comment on that. In relation to any other complaints about delays in intervention orders, to the best of my knowledge I am not aware of any complaints that I have received. This is something, as I said, that I just read in the paper the other day.
These intervention orders were a major reform around domestic violence. The intervention orders were set up in a way to enable a rapid response, particularly for police so that they did not have to go through a protracted court system before they were able to take out a restraining order that often took many days and, during that time, left women and, often their children, at high risk.
These intervention orders were designed so that a police officer could go out, make an assessment there on the spot and, if they believed that there was a high risk of violence, the intervention order could be put in place there and then. The other wonderful thing about these orders was that it completely turned the model around.
In the past when police went out to an incident, their only course of action was often to remove the victim and the children and move them to a safe house and leave the perpetrator there in the family home. These new intervention orders allow that to be completely turned around and allow for the perpetrator to be removed from the house there and then and for the victims and the family to stay protected in the family home.
It is quite disturbing that there are allegations that this is not operating in the way that it was intended. As I said, I understand that is under investigation. I am not aware of other complaints but I am sure that at least, in investigating this woman's case, if improvements do need to be put in place, we will use that as a valuable learning lesson.
In terms of the training, my understanding is that that has been completed; it is something that the Attorney-General and the Minister for Police have carriage of, but my understanding is that that has been completed. As I said, the feedback I have received is that it is going well, and the new system that has been put in place is also going well. It is deeply disturbing to see a situation come forward publicly where there are alleged delays in intervention orders, but I am confident that that will be investigated thoroughly.