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Is physical punishment OK as long as there's no mark?

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A while ago my girlfriend parents froced to go to the police to confess to something stupid she did. While at the police station, her parents asked about physical punishment. The police explained to her parents that physical punishment is ok as long as it doesn't leave a mark.
My girlfriend got told this from her parents, but they've been known to tell fibs previously, so I just wanted to confirm it. I live in Australia incase the laws are different else where.