SA to revamp strangulation laws

·1-min read
Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS

South Australia's strangulation laws are to be revamped after a review found too many cases being discontinued.

Choking, suffocation, or strangulation are widely seen as precursors to domestic homicide, with laws establishing the specific offence first introduced in SA in 2019.

But a government review found a lack of clarity around what police and prosecutors needed to prove to secure a conviction.

It has now proposed changes so that the act of applying pressure to the neck is all that must be proved and not that the person's breathing was restricted.

"Clear, effective strangulation laws are an important way to hold offenders accountable for their actions, and also to better protect victim-survivors of domestic and family violence," Attorney-General Kyam Maher said.

"It's the type of offending that, without intervention, can easily escalate, with devastating consequences and we need to do all that we can to protect those at risk.

"By clarifying the laws, we'll remove some of the obstacles that have hindered prosecutions in the past, by making it clearer when an offence has been committed and what needs to be proved in court."

The government said the proposed changes were consistent with medical advice about the inherent dangers in applying pressure to a person's neck and will bring SA into line with other jurisdictions.

A multi-agency government working group will also be established to consider how to better support victims through the prosecution process and to try and reduce the number who decide not to proceed.

"Our government is committed to tackling every aspect of domestic violence, and this working group will be crucial as we work to improve the experience of victim-survivors in the justice system," Minister for Women Katrine Hildyard said.