Sunday, 03 March 2019
Media release

Government introduces strong new measures against domestic violence perpetrators

On February 28 a new Government directive came into force which will stop the entry to Australia of people convicted of violent crimes against women and children.

Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs David Coleman has issued a Ministerial Direction to visa decision-makers under s499 of the Migration Act 1958. The Direction is designed to prevent the entry to Australia of people convicted of violent crimes against women or children, regardless of the nation in which the offence occurred or the sentence that was handed down.

“Australia has no tolerance for perpetrators of violence against women and children,” Mr Coleman said.

“The message is clear: if you’ve been convicted of a violent crime against women or children, you are not welcome in this country. Wherever the offence occurred, whatever the sentence – Australia has no tolerance for domestic violence perpetrators.

The new Direction applies to decision-makers within the Department of Home Affairs who are considering the cancellation or refusal of a visa under s501 of the Migration Act 1958, or who are considering the revocation of a mandatory cancellation of a visa under s501CA.

The direction is binding on departmental decision-makers and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

This means when considering a case, the decision-maker or AAT member must consider all crimes against woman and children as serious and abhorrent crimes, regardless of the length of sentence imposed by the courts. The Direction further specifies that in these circumstances, individuals should generally expect to be denied the privilege of coming to, or to forfeit the privilege of staying in Australia.

The Ministerial Direction was issued in December 2018 and came into effect on February 28. It builds on existing laws, including the mandatory cancellation powers in s501 of the Migration Act which provide that a person’s visa must be cancelled if they have been sentenced to 12 months or more in prison.

Mr Coleman said the Government was continually looking at ways to strengthen the Migration Act to keep Australians safe.

“While current provisions have been effective, these changes will further strengthen the law and make a very clear statement that Australia regards crimes against women and children as particularly abhorrent.”

Under the previous Labor Government, in the five years between 2009 and 2013, just 582 visas were cancelled under the character provisions in s 501 of Migration Act.

Since coming into Government, the Coalition has cancelled more than 4150 visas of foreign criminals—more than seven times that of Labor.

“By cancelling the visas of criminals we have made Australia a safer place,” Mr Coleman said.

“These crimes inflict long lasting trauma on the victims and their friends and family, and foreign criminals who commit them are not welcome in our country.”