Words by: Trilokesh Chanmugam
Image Credit: Nine News
In an attempt to protect victims of domestic abuse, high-risk repeat offenders might be forced to wear a GPS enabled tracking device around their ankle. The proposed measure comes amid ongoing concern about the unprecedented levels of violent abuse in Australian households.
“It’s completely unacceptable. It’s a scourge, it’s got to end,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott told 9 News in this video.
Tony Abbott has also committed to a funding increase of $4 million for the domestic violence help-line, 1800 RESPECT, after a surge in calls for the counselling service.
The tracking bracelets are intended to improve the safety of women and children who remain under threat of domestic abuse. It is not clear at what stage of the criminal process the measure will be enforced.
GPS devices are already being used in some states to track high-risk sex offenders, but using the devices on perpetrators of domestic violence was rejected by a parliamentary inquiry three years ago due to concerns that the bracelets might give victims a false sense of security.
An advisory panel headed by Australian of the year Rosie Batty, and former Victorian police chief Ken Lay, has been put together to consider the measures in detail. A report will be presented to the Prime Minister in July.
So far this year, domestic violence in Australia has killed an average of two women each week. Ms. Batty, who is co-chairing the panel and is a survivor of family violence herself, has said that the use of GPS devices should undergo proper risk assessment and is one of a number of solutions to the problem.