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 In September 1996 the Australian Government convened the National Domestic Violence Forum in Canberra. The forum included representatives from each Australian state and territory, government departments, academics and non-government organisations, with an interest in addressing all issues relating to domestic violence.

A number of recommendations came out of the forum, some of which related to reforms to the laws dealing with domestic violence and the need for greater consistency. While the need for consistency has been recognised previously by the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (which noted that model legislation prepared by a National Police Working Party on Law Reform in 1991 provides a useful guide), there have been specific initiatives dealing with the portability of orders, the relationship of orders with Family Law orders and the portability of New Zealand orders (which was raised at the forum). A working group of officials from the states and territories and the Australian Government prepared a discussion paper after reviewing the existing laws and prepared a revised Model in the context of the initiatives flowing from the Forum for the National Domestic Violence Summit.

The Prime Minister, Premiers and Chief Ministers released a discussion paper at the Domestic Violence Summit in November 1997. It requested interested persons and agencies to comment upon the paper's proposals, and more than 120 detailed and thoughtful submission were received, as well as oral feedback from meetings organised around Australia by the Office of the Status of Women and state and territory governments. Most submissions commented upon the 14 key issues identified in the discussion paper as being of particular significance.

The discussion paper contained tentative recommendations for the model using the work in 1991 as its starting point and drawing on experience since then. The 1991 model was based on Victorian legislation and was accepted as a way in which the recommendations of the National Committee on Violence report (1990) could be implemented. The model contained in this report amounts to a substantial refinement of what was circulated in the discussion paper, taking into account submissions received in the consultation period following release of the discussion paper. The full model is contained in the schedule of this report, while the body of the report contains individual provisions in the model on left pages and commentary on the right.

The working group is very grateful for the assistance of Dawn Ray from the office of the Queensland Parliamentary Counsel and the Parliamentary Counsels' Committee, and for contributions from Ms Leanne Roberts of the South Australian Attorney-General's Department.

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Date Published: Friday, 30 April 1999