Eight people have been convicted of persistent family violence since the new offence came into play in Tasmania in 2018.
And at least two of those people are already back on the street.
This year alone, two men have been granted parole after serving only half of their sentence for ongoing violence against their partners. And both of those men were described by the parole board as still being at high risk of committing further acts of family violence, with only one able to access therapeutic programs designed to control their violent tendencies while in prison.
The first was Wade Richard Burgess, who repeatedly assaulted his then-pregnant girlfriend in 2017 - often in front of her two-year-old child.
During his appearance in Hobart in 2019, the Supreme Court heard how Burgess had bashed his partner while she was heavily pregnant, burned her unborn child's bassinet, and wiped his own faeces on her clothing.
A victim impact statement from the complainant revealed she "felt like she wanted to die and hated her life". Acting Justice David Porter described Burgess' conduct as "domineering, brutal, vicious, spiteful and cowardly".
And he sentenced the then 24-year-old to three years and six months behind bars. Less than 18 months later, he was released.
"The nature of the applicant's offending was demeaning, prolonged, intimidatory and violent and the risk therefore remains that a return to the community may result in a return to this standard of behaviour," the parole board wrote.
"A psychological assessment ... believed the nature of the applicant's offending and his characteristics placed him in a high-risk category for future family violence and that equipping him with coping skills in concert with a prosocial environment upon his return to the community will assist mitigate this risk.
"The manner in which he has served his custodial term is evidence of his motivation to become a responsible, respectful and loving parent and partner."
The second parolee, Joshua Blair Read, was jailed in 2019 over violent and demeaning acts against his former partner and mother of his child, including attempting to strangle her.
He was not formally sentenced until November last year, when Justice Michael Brett described his actions as "arrogant, intimidating, cruel and violent".
Read was handed three years, with release not possible for at least 18 months - making him eligible for parole less than two months after his sentence due to backdating.
Publishing its decision, the parole board said Read had remained on waiting lists for therapy while in custody, and would have better access to that support outside of prison.
"It is noted that the applicant is at high risk of future family violence offending as per his assessment," the parole board wrote.
"He has been unable to access therapeutic interventions including the family violence intervention programs whilst in custody.
"His return to the community supervised under a parole order will facilitate his access to these interventions. His return can be closely monitored and supervised through electronic monitoring reducing the risk he may present to the community and most significantly his previous partner and victim."
The Department of Justice explained that prisoners on remand, which Read was until November, were not eligible to access programs provided to sentenced prisoners.
The department also confirmed there was a waiting list more generally for programs.
"Due to high demand, there can be some delays in sentenced prisoners receiving alcohol and drug counselling," a spokesman said.
During both of their sentencings, the relevant judges mentioned the pair did not have a history of family violence offences, and therefore an early parole period was considered appropriate. However, at the time of their release, the parole board stated both Read and Burgess remained high risk.
Despite this, neither was subject to a strict condition relating to a family violence intervention program.
Instead, both were ordered to obtain a mental health care plan, and only Read would be electronically monitored.
INTERVENTION KEY TO IMPROVEMENT
Women's Legal Service Tasmania chief executive Yvette Cehtel said in cases where an offender had not been able to access programs while in custody, a parole condition ensuring they access them on release was crucial.
"If people are not sentenced for long enough, they are not eligible for these programs," she said.
"We are really doing people a disservice, you have a captive audience when someone is in prison, and there are ample opportunities for people to reform themselves, but we really need to make sure there is better uptake of behavioural programs.
"I believe offenders can change, violence is a choice, and they can choose to behave differently, but they need to want to change, and to go on a journey.
"If they are going to say these men have not benefited from perpetrator programs [while in custody], then the best decision a parole board could make in that situation is to actually recommend they access those programs."
Tasmania remained the only state to include emotional and economic abuse within family violence laws.
And while the introduction of the persistent family violence charge had been another positive step for the state, Ms Cehtel said those prosecuting the charge needed to ensure the case included not only acts of physical violence, but emotional abuse and intimidation.
"It was a really good charge introduced by Elise Archer as Attorney General, it showed great leadership, but now we need the police, and prosecutions to follow up and make sure the whole victim and survivor experience is recorded," she said.
"The charges need to be drawn up accordingly, to describe the emotional abuse, the social isolation, the sexual abuse, the spiritual and cultural abuse. We are still very incident focused, we focus on incidents of violence, and that does not recognise coercive control."
A NATIONAL ISSUE
Coercive control has continued to be a topic of national conversation, with calls for it to be criminalised.
In February, Queensland announced it would do exactly that, and on the same day, the Australian senate passed a motion to recognise the significance and severity of coercive control.
Following on from public calls for change, the Federal Budget released on Tuesday included $4.7 million over two years to strengthen criminal justice responses to sexual assault, sexual harassment and coercive control.
"The government will lead a national discussion that will focus on increasing rates of conviction, supporting the needs of traumatised victims and increasing consistency of laws," the Women's Budget Statement 2021-22 read.
"A nationally consistent approach to these criminal justice responses will reduce unnecessary barriers to reporting and prosecuting alleged offending."
From July last year until February this year, Tasmanian police were called to 4064 family violence matters.
More than 1000 of those were in the North.
For victims seeking help, Tasmania Police Assistant Commissioner Jonathan Higgins said officers were "always ready to respond to and investigate matters involving family violence".
"We encourage anyone who witnesses, or is involved in, family violence to speak out, come forward and report the matter," he said.
"Together we must show that we won't tolerate family violence."
Family violence incidents can be reported to Tasmania Police on 131 444, or by calling triple zero in an emergency.
The Family Violence Response and Referral Line is available on 1800 633 937. Lifeline is available on 131 444.