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Jari’s Law Coroners Act reform passes Tasmanian lower house

Callan Morse -

An amendment to the Tasmanian Coroners Act known as Jari's Law passed the Tasmanian House of Assembly on Thursday.

The amendment comes after the longtime advocacy of the family of Tasmanian man Jari Wise, who died after being struck by a car driven by his partner, Melissa Oates, in Huonville in February 2020.

Although Ms Oates was charged and pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, drink driving and failing to stop and assist in the case of an accident, she was attributed no legal responsibility for Mr Wise's death.

Mr Wise's mother, Faith Tkalac, and grandmother, Rissah Vox, have tirelessly campaigned for justice for the Wadi Wadi and Wamba Wamba man.

"Every time we're faced with sitting in the court we have to listen to the post mortem reports, and that is gruelling. So, I know that we've got a lot ahead of us," Ms Vox told National Indigenous Times in June.

Former Tasmanian Attorney-General, Elise Archer, overturned the Tasmanian Supreme Court's decision to not grant a Coronial inquest to examine the details surrounding the 26-year-old's death earlier this year.

Going from a feeling of disappointment to a sense of elation, Ms Vox said no matter how difficult, her family were never going to give up calling for justice for her grandson.

"It's not something we're looking forward to, because we know that it'll be harrowing," Ms Vox told National Indigenous Times.

Jari's Law was included in the Tasmanian Government's Justice and Related Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill (No.2) 2023, an amendment which ensures deaths where family violence have contributed can be appropriately examined, even where there are no criminal proceedings.

Tasmanian Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Guy Barnett, said statistics show family violence continues to play a role in a significant number of deaths each year.

"However, for a range of reasons, it is sadly the case that the criminal justice system does not always provide answers about the circumstances of such deaths," Mr Barnett said.

"It is critical the Government's response to protecting those exposed to family violence is informed by evidence, and an understanding of the circumstances that contribute to family violence related deaths.

"Jari's Law means obtaining these answers is made more likely."

In announcing the amendment, Mr Barnett acknowledged Ms Tkalac's efforts in continuing to fight for justice for her son.

"I would like to acknowledge Jari's mother Faith Tkalac for her tireless campaign to honour her son Jari by ensuring our laws reflect our commitment to doing everything we possibly can to make sure that all Tasmanians are safe, equal and respected," Mr Barnett said.

"Jari's Law is another step toward ensuring our homes, families and communities are free from all forms of family and sexual violence."

The date for the coronial inquest into the death of Mr Wise has is yet to be announced.

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