This article was first published on The Conversation website.
The law’s response to lethal domestic violence in Australia raises complex issues. It requires a delicate balance to be struck between ensuring a just response to those who kill in response to prolonged family violence while simultaneously ensuring that those who kill an intimate partner in unmeritorious circumstances are not minimised, excused or justified by the court system.
But given the divergent law reform activity across Australia in recent years, there is undoubtedly a need for a national review of legal responses to lethal domestic violence.
A national review would allow for each state and territory to learn from the reform experiences of their counterparts. While there are sentencing and legislative differences across jurisdictions, there are benefits in considering the range of reforms implemented and the impact of those reforms in practice on the law’s response to lethal domestic violence.
The 2010 review into family violence by the Australian Law Reform Commission and New South Wales Law Reform Commission began this process. However, since that review, the number of differing reforms implemented highlights the need for a follow-up review to evaluate to what extent the law’s response to domestic violence has improved and where opportunities lie for future reform.
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