9 December 2020

Tania Maxwell MP, Member for Northern Victoria, has joined the grieving mother and brother of Celeste Manno, Aggie Di Mauro and Alessandro Manno, with a petition calling for stronger responses in cases of alleged stalking.

Ms Maxwell has organised for Ms Di Mauro and Mr Manno to meet with the Attorney-General, who will do so on behalf of the Government today, to discuss enforcement issues around intervention and restraining orders.

Ms Di Mauro said she would not speak directly to the issues in her daughter’s case, as it is currently before the courts, but wanted to make a broader call for a need to hold perpetrators accountable, including earlier and stronger responses to breaches of intervention orders.

The petition on change.org was initiated by one of Celeste Manno’s friends, Naciye Erel, after the horrific death of Ms Manno in her home last month and already has over 8,000 signatures – reflecting a wide outpouring of grief and heartbreak at Celeste’s death.

Ms Maxwell said the need for stronger responses to stalking related offences was critical in light of the rapidly growing number of offences and the shocking consequences for victims.

Ms Maxwell said that intervention orders give little comfort to victims, because they are often breached without serious ramifications for the offender, and leave victims feeling isolated and exposed.

There are currently a range of laws in place in Victoria in relation to stalking, and charges that include a maximum 10 years’ imprisonment, but there needs to be a significant closing of the substantial gaps in enforcement capabilities and the repercussions that follow from breaches.

Ms Maxwell pointed to Tasmania’s comprehensive recent trial on electronic monitoring for high-risk family violence subjects, saying it could offer great insight for Victoria in potentially proactively monitoring stalkers.

Quotes attributable to Aggie Di Mauro:

“My daughter felt safer, but not for long. Intervention orders give victims little peace of mind – it needs to be more than a piece of paper.”

“I can’t do anything for my daughter again, so I’m doing this in the hope that others will be protected.”

Quotes attributable to Tania Maxwell MP:

 “There is a sense of deep frustration and anger at the difficulty of stopping offenders who make their victims’ existences a living hell.”

“We see time and again offenders giving little regard to intervention and restraining orders. Meanwhile their victims remain trapped and terrified.”

“We owe it to every victim of stalking to try to seriously strengthen the enforcement of the laws and conditions on stalkers.”

“We must escalate the consequences for those who deliberately taunt, follow and inflict fear and harm on others.”