Our pets are family members, and it’s time they are recognised as that under our family violence laws – protecting their lives, and the lives of those experiencing family violence.
Family violence prevention must include considerations for the protection of pets. It won’t just keep our pets safe, it keeps victim survivors safe too. Far too often, family animals are used as tools for manipulation or coercion. Sometimes, it is the animals that are the first victims of family violence in a household. One in three women delay leaving violent relationships because they fear what could happen to their pets.
In 2021, our family violence and animals motion passed in the Victorian Parliament unanimously. The government made a commitment to ensure more robust protections for animals in situations of family violence. We will also work on a system to ensure pets are removed from perpetrators, defaulting to the victim survivors of family violence, should they wish to leave with them. This is a huge step towards removing one of the biggest barriers to women leaving a violent home.