Reforming Defences to Homicide in Victoria: Another Attempt to Address the Gender Question
In 2005 in the Australian state of Victoria, significant changes were made to the defences to homicide. These reforms were in response to long standing concerns about the gendered operation of provocation and self-defence by feminist researchers and advocates, Law Reform Commissions, the media and political pressures. This paper critically examines the reforms and the extent to which they have addressed these varied concerns and interests. The paper argues that these important law reforms have challenged some of the powerful narratives being used in the courts that minimise the existence and significance of family violence in intimate relationships. We see this particularly in judicial sentencing remarks. However, law reform must be accompanied by a shift in legal culture to be effective in practice. To this end, we argue that legal professionals need to have information about how to utilise the new family violence provisions as well as ongoing training and professional development to promote consistent understandings of family violence across the criminal justice system.
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