Government follows WA Liberal lead to double down on GPS tracking of violent offenders

October 26, 2023 12:55 PM
Tjorn Sibma
Shadow Minister for Justice; Defence Industry; Metronet; Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs
Peter Collier
Shadow Minister for Police; Corrective Services; Culture and the Arts

The Cook Labor Government’s announcement that it will adopt the WA Liberal policy to expand the number of GPS tracking bracelets for serious offenders who breach a violence restraining order is a victory for common sense.

WA Liberal Leader Libby Mettam announced last month a $100 million commitment to ensure an extra 300 GPS tracking bracelets would be available under a Liberal Government to monitor offenders who committed serious breaches of violence restraining orders.

“Today’s announcement is welcome, but it is tragic it has taken family and domestic violence to reach crisis point in WA before the Cook Labor Government acted,” Ms Mettam said. 

“Breaches of family and domestic violence orders were up 22 per cent in the last year and time and time again we saw these violent offenders re-offending upon release, often with tragic outcomes. 

“Western Australia has for several years had one of the highest rates of reported family and domestic violence in Australia. It has taken the Labor Government way too long to act on this issue.’’  

Shadow Justice Minister Tjorn Sibma said the Cook Government had undertaken a two-year GPS trial that wound up more than a year ago, but had failed to provide any detail about the outcomes or flag any changes until now.  

“It also needs to be remembered that this is just an announcement, by this Government’s track record it will be another year before the legislation to enact the announcement even comes before the house,”Mr Sibma said. 

“I challenge the Cook Labor Government and Attorney General John Quigley to put some urgency behind this legislation.

“We know from the results of trials in other states that when GPS tracking measures are properly implemented the resulting reductions in FDV can be significant. 

Shadow Police Minister Peter Collier said jurisdictions across Australia had found GPS tracking devices to be powerful tools in stopping repeat family and domestic violence offenders and the Cook Labor Government had been dragging its feet for more than a year.

“A trial in Tasmania five years ago found an overall reduction in violent incidents, particularly high-risk incidents, of up to 82 per cent,” Mr Collier said.

“It’s hard to understand what other proof was required.”

FDV Facts

Family domestic violence continues to be a serious and highly complex issue impacting our community. Itis a leading cause of homelessness for women and children and imposes significant cost on the community.

The ramifications for victims and survivors of family violence who are forced to leave their homes are far-ranging and include risks of homelessness, loss of employment, disruption to children’s education as well as impacts to physical and mental health.

Unfortunately, the true extent of this problem is likely much higher than reported, as only a quarter of women who experience assault from a partner living together actually report the incident to the police.

Currently, Western Australia has one of the highest rates of reported family and domestic violence in Australia. Notably:

● In WA, over 60per cent (23,254) of assaults were family and domestic violence-related;

● In 2020-21,24,470 Western Australians sought assistance from specialist homelessness services, with 41 per cent (10,112) identified as needing these services because they were experiencing family and domestic violence;

● In 2021, there were 48 victims of homicide and related offences recorded in Western Australia. Twelve of these homicides (25 per cent) were family and domestic violence related; and

● Of the 133 family and domestic violence fatality reviews finalised by the WA Ombudsman for the period 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2021, Aboriginal Western Australians were overrepresented, with 33 per cent (44) of persons who died being Aboriginal. In34 of these cases the person who died lived in a regional or remote area of Western Australia, of which 26 were intimate partner fatalities.

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