In all Australian jurisdictions it is possible for judicial officers to recognise the dynamics of family violence when sentencing offenders who have committed offences in the context of domestic and family violence. Sentencing provides an important opportunity for judicial officers to clearly denounce domestic and family violence, to emphasise the accountability of the offender and to recognise the harm done to the victim.

While sentencing laws vary between states and territories, Courts in all jurisdictions have recognised that the need to deter future domestic and family violence is an important aim of sentencing for offences committed in the context of domestic and family violence (refer table below).

It is important to consider community safety and protection in sentencing for offences that take place in the context of domestic and family violence. The safety of the victim may be a relevant consideration in the selection of an appropriate penalty.

Rehabilitation of the offender may be an appropriate aim in sentencing some offenders who have committed offences in the context of domestic and family violence. In such cases there may be benefits in utilising sentencing approaches that require the perpetrator to attend a perpetrator intervention program.

Deterrence as key sentencing aim – state and territory case law

Australian Capital Territory R v Curtis [2013] ACTSC 291 (16 December 2013)
New South Wales Judicial Commission of NSW, Sentencing Bench Book (2015)
Northern Territory R v Stevenson [2015] NTSC (Sentence) 21353266; Walker v Verity [2010] NTSC 68 (7 December 2010); Orsto v Grotherr [2015] NTSC 18 (31 March 2015)
Queensland R v Major; ex parte Attorney-General (Qld) [2011] QCA 210 (30 August 2011); R v Fairbrother; ex parte A-G (Qld) [2005] QCA 105 (15 April 2005)
South Australia R v Koch [2015] SASCFC 31 (27 March 2015)
Tasmania Waddington v R [2003] TASSC 21 (30 April 2003); Allen v Kerr [2009] TASSC 10 (25 February 2009)
Victoria Judicial College of Victoria, Victorian Sentencing Manual (2015)
Western Australia Gilmour v The State of Western Australia [2008] WASCA 42 (28 February 2008); Bropho v Hall [2015] WASC 50 (9 February 2015)