Member for Western Victoria
Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party

Family Violence – GPS Tracking of Victim

My question is for the Attorney-General. One way victims can be controlled within a family violence relationship is if an offender monitors their movements through the use of GPS technology. A recent study by Wesnet, a peak national domestic violence body, reveals that there was a 245 per cent jump in victim-survivors being tracked by GPS apps and devices last year. There are offences in the Surveillance Devices Act 1999 relating to this behaviour, including section 7, which is ‘Regulation of installation, use and maintenance of optical surveillance devices’. Sentencing Advisory Council data tells us that out of the 45 offenders charged with this offence between 2016 and 2019 only six received jail time. Further alarming is a lack of data—that is, there is none—for section 8, which is ‘Regulation of installation, use and maintenance of tracking devices’. Attorney, can you tell me how many people have been charged with the section 8 offence since 2016 and what the sentencing outcome of offenders has been?

Thanks, Attorney, for that answer and feedback. Jess Hill’s See What You Made Me Do book and SBS docuseries demonstrated that coercive control can be exhibited through electronic tracking of a partner’s car, wallet or phone and even through a child’s teddy bear. In a piece in the Herald Sun recently private investigator Paul Walsh of Asia Pacific Security Group said he had never had more work on surveillance-related family cases. It seems that there should be at the very least a mandate for record keeping of these devices being sold for cars, which could be used as evidence in court to demonstrate controlling behaviour. Attorney, given the risk present in this increasingly worrying trend of perpetrators utilising GPS technology to track their partners, how does your department intend on addressing this in order to maintain the safety of family violence victim-survivors? I do realise that you probably covered off on some of that in your previous answer.


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