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14 May 2024

The NSW Government will introduce significant legal reforms that will make it more difficult for those accused of serious domestic violence offences to get bail.

The reforms include:

Reversing the presumption of bail for serious domestic violence offences, by expanding the category of “show cause” offences. This will require alleged offenders to demonstrate why they should be out in the community. This test will now apply to the following offences:

  • serious domestic violence offences committed by intimate partners, including sexual assault, strangulation with intent to commit another offence and kidnapping, with a maximum penalty of 14 or more years jail; and
  • coercive control, which will be a criminal offence from 1 July 2024.

Requiring electronic monitoring of people charged with serious domestic violence who are on bail. This means that this cohort is either held in remand or electronically monitored.

Expanding the categories of offences for which bail decisions can be ‘stayed’, that is the accused person remains in custody while prosecutors challenge their release in the Supreme Court. This will act as an additional safeguard to prevent the release of dangerous domestic violence offenders.

For all other domestic violence related offences, requiring bail decision-makers to consider, where relevant:

  • domestic abuse risk factors, including ‘red flags’ such as behaviour that is physically abusive or violent; behaviour that is sexually abusive, coercive or violent; behaviour that is stalking; behaviour that causes death or injury to an animal; behaviour that is verbally abusive; behaviour that is intimidation.
  • the views of victims and their family members, where possible, about safety concerns for all domestic violence offences.

Changes to make it easier to prosecute perpetrators who use tracking and surveillance devices as a tactic to maintain control over their victim.

Changes to weekend bail courts across NSW, to ensure bail decisions are made by magistrates (for example, using audio visual links) with consultation on the design and rollout of the scheme.

These legislative reforms come after the NSW Government announced a $230 million package to improve the response to domestic and family violence through primary prevention, early intervention and crisis response measures.

In addition, NSW signed up with the Commonwealth Government in a share of $1 billion in new federal funding for emergency accommodation for people fleeing domestic violence, to be included in the upcoming Federal budget.

Premier Chris Minns said:

“These new reforms will make it more difficult for alleged domestic violence offenders to get bail.

“These are long overdue, targeted and will help keep women and children safer.”

Attorney General Michael Daley said:

“Today, we are sending a clear message: that the safety of victims is the paramount consideration of the justice system.

“We will continue to consult legal and sector stakeholders to strengthen the law, to better support the safety of women and children.”

Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Jodie Harrison said:

“This reform complements the $230 million package the NSW Government announced last week to improve NSW domestic violence prevention and support.

“We consulted with stakeholders as we developed this package to strengthen bail laws.”