Billson urges tackling Family Violence with ‘tech update’ to laws

Tuesday 9th February 2016

Prompted by the feedback and experiences from the Peninsula Community Legal Centre, local Dunkley Federal MP Bruce Billson has urged that efforts to tackle family violence be strengthened to deal with ‘technology enabled’ intimidation and harassment.

Mr Billson told Federal Parliament that the law was struggling to cope with perpetrators secretly using new technology to track and monitor the movements of their victims as a new form of ‘power’ over women and their children.

“We all need to work to recognise the importance of changing national culture to make disrespecting women un-Australian,” Mr Billson said.

“While it is a sad reality that domestic violence and feeling terror in your own home is still an all too frequent part of too many women’s lives, technology brings another tool, another threat, another source of power perpetrators can exercise over their victims.

“Tracking technologies can be installed and activated by perpetrators without the knowledge of their victims and give the perpetrators the power to be able to follow the movements of their victims, who are simply going about their daily lives.

“Apprehended Violence Orders (AVO’s) can and have traditionally sought to maintain physical and communication separation between applicants and respondents.  But what about the secretly installed app or the activated hidden feature on a smartphone that can tell the perpetrator about their target’s every movement or social media platforms that can fuel cyber-bullying and revenge, reputation-damaging postings?”, Mr Billson said.

Mr Billson highlighted in Parliament the insights from Ms Jackie Galloway, CEO of the Peninsula Community Legal Centre, that there is an increasing use of technology in family violence cases. 1 in 4 cases that are before the Peninsula Community Legal Centre, or 2,000 cases a year, relate to domestic and family violence.  The misuse of social media and tracking tools including apps developed for child safety being turned into tools for family violence and control, show how the current law was proven inadequate or hard to apply and not keeping pace with technological changes.

In a motion supported by all sides of politics, he called on all governments working to implement the national Women’s Safety package backed by a $100 million funding boost from the Turnbull Coalition Government to consider how best to tackle the increasing misuse of new technology in domestic violence cases and as a tool of power and control by perpetrators.

Mr Billson’s speech can be found at: http://bit.ly/1LcP1IX