Victorian homicide law reforms ensure just responses to violence

The Conversation logoThis article is authored by Kate Fitz-Gibbon and was first published on The Conversation on 26th June 2014. 

Victorian attorney-general Robert Clark today introduced a bill into parliament that repeals the offence of defensive homicide. The bill signifies a significant step forward in ensuring just responses to lethal violence in the state’s criminal court system.

While reforming homicide law has been a long process, the bill introduced today is a significant step forward for Victoria.

Defensive homicide was introduced in Victoria in late 2005 as part of a wider package of homicide law reforms, including the abolition of the heavily discredited partial defence of provocation. Its introduction was largely based on the need to offer a “halfway” homicide category for persons who kill in response to prolonged family violence.

However, since 2005, the dominant use of the offence by men, who have brutally killed in the context of a one-off violent confrontation – often involving alcohol and/or the use of a weapon – has represented a significant departure from the original intentions of the offence.

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