Legislative Council: Thursday, September 14, 2023


Domestic Violence Victims

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI (Leader of the Opposition) (14:22): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question of the Attorney-General regarding the protection of domestic violence victims.

Leave granted.

The Hon. N.J. CENTOFANTI: It was recently reported that a South Australian woman who survived a violent attack perpetrated by her ex-partner now has to work just 150 metres away from the offender. The victim, who cannot be identified, was pinned down by her neck, bitten, slapped and hit while being threatened with rape. Her attacker received a 4½-year jail sentence with a non-parole period of three years.

After his release from jail he was given permission to live one kilometre away from his victim's then residence, forcing her to move to an area where she felt safer, with the offender prohibited from entering the suburb. At a later date, however, the man's parole conditions were altered, enabling him to work just a few streets away from the woman's workplace in the CBD.

Earlier this month, the Parole Board apparently dismissed her request for her attacker to be prevented from working in such close proximity to her, citing that full-time work was important for any parolee. The victim has stated:

It is crucial for survivors to have a safe environment…I do not feel protected from this person at all and how does (he) have more rights than I do? It feels as though this system is punishing me instead of prioritising my safety.

My questions to the Attorney-General are:

1. Does the Attorney-General support the Parole Board's decision to allow a perpetrator of domestic violence to work close to their victim?

2. Does the Attorney agree the system needs to be reformed if the rights of a violent offender can trump those of their victim?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:24): I thank the honourable member for her question. It will be a very similar answer to a question the Leader of the Opposition asked yesterday and similar to questions the Hon. Dennis Hood often asks about sentencing in various courts.

I am not going to pretend to substitute my views over a decision of the Parole Board. I don't have all the information that was put to the Parole Board. I don't know the details and I'm sure the Leader of the Opposition doesn't either.

What I do know is that the Parole Board works very hard in coming up with parole conditions and has so over many, many decades. In fact, the head of the Parole Board, Frances Nelson KC, has been the head of the Parole Board and been appointed and reappointed under governments of many different stripes over a number of decades and I have not heard people talk about much but the extraordinary job that she has done in leading the Parole Board.

As I said, I don't have all the details of what was put before the Parole Board, so I'm not in a place, as the Leader of the Opposition isn't either, of trying to substitute our views without that full information.