Earlier this year, the Federal Attorney-General, Geroge Brandis, asked the Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs to examine how to better support and protect people affected by family violence when dealing with Australia’s family law system. The intersection between family violence and family law is often fraught, a problem recognised by the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence.
In its final report, the Royal Commission noted that ‘The fragmentation between state courts and the federal family law courts was a source of considerable concern.’
Many submissions called for the Family Court to give more weight and consideration to family violence when making decisions. Many people appearing before the court were ‘conflicted by a desire to protect children from the harmful behaviour of the other parent, without wanting to appear unfavourable or obstructionist to a judicial decision maker. Others reported that perpetrators of violence used family court proceedings to maintain previous patterns of coercion and control.’
It is vital that the parliamentary committee hears directly from those affected by family violence, to ensure that its response is informed and relevant. The inquiry recognises that for many people this process might cause further distress. To account for this, people can share their experiences via an anonymous online questionnaire, open for submissions until 30 June 2017.
If you’ve experienced family violence and had to deal with the Family Law system, your voice matters.
If you are in immediate danger, please contact 000. Our Family Violence Legal Service offers free legal advice and support to people experiencing family violence when they appear at Bendigo, Maryborough, Echuca, Castlemaine and Kyneton Magistrates’ Courts.
If you would like to speak with someone about your situation, the following support services are available:
National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service: 1800 737 732
Men’s Referral Service: 1300 766 491
Lifeline: 131 114
Relationships Australia: 1300 364 277
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800