Victims of alleged domestic violence should be exempt from laws that allow magistrates to order their often “traumatising” arrest if they don’t show up to court, advocates say.
It comes after an investigation by The Weekend West revealed Kearah Ronan, an alleged victim of domestic violence, had been arrested and locked up overnight — while pregnant — after she failed to attend court because she was too sick.
Heather Nancarrow, chief executive of Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety, said she had been told by court liaisons in NSW that it was not “uncommon” for domestic violence victims to be issued with arrest warrants if they did not appear in court.
Dr Nancarrow said though Ms Ronan had been sick, some women became too frightened to give evidence. It was those women who could become even more reluctant to deal with the court process.
“It’s re-traumatising and criminalisation from a system that is meant to be protecting them,” she said.
“(Giving evidence in court) is terrifying in these cases but there are other ways that could be done, like the use of video conferencing.”
Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt has described the arrest of Ms Ronan, who is a Yamatji woman, as “traumatic” and “unnecessary”.