How can family law better support and protect people affected by family violence?

How can family law better support and protect people affected by family violence?

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

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We will be giving evidence on Monday 24 July to an inquiry into how Australia’s federal family law system can better support and protect people affected by family violence.

In our submission to the Parliamentary inquiry into a better family law system to support and protect those affected by family violence we call for changes to the family law courts to focus on safety.

Family violence is now core business for the family law courts, so court processes need to be designed with this in mind. 

We believe that prioritising safety in the family law courts includes:

  • earlier judicial decision-making about family violence allegations
  • increased family violence support services at family courts
  • ongoing family violence training of all family law professionals
  • more resourcing and better integration across the family law system
  • improved processes when one person is self-represented. 

In our submission we also suggest ways to make small family property settlements more accessible by creating a new simplified claims option, making it easier for family violence survivors to regain economic independence after separation.  

Associate Director Family Law Gayathri Paramasivam said Victoria Legal Aid was pleased to see the recent release by the Attorney-General, Senator the Honourable George Brandis QC, of draft legislative amendments to the Family Law Act 1975.

‘These draft amendments are aimed at ensuring victims of family violence are protected from being personally cross-examined by their alleged perpetrators or having to cross-examine them directly – a change we have long called for,’ Ms Paramasivam said.

'As a community we no longer tolerate family violence. So it is well and truly time to eliminate the longstanding problem of family violence victims facing the trauma of direct cross-examination in the family law courts.’ 

Associate Director Family Law Gayathri Paramasivam

This current inquiry is drawing on a range of recent reports into the family law system and family violence, including the Family Law Council’s interim and final reports.

It was referred by the Commonwealth Attorney-General, and its committee aims to make recommendations that will improve the system for all participants.

Ms Paramasivam said that Victoria Legal Aid would continue to call for the family law courts to focus on safety in its submissions to the upcoming Australian Law Reform Commission comprehensive review of the family law system.

Read our submission

Read our Submission to Parliamentary inquiry into a better family law system to support and protect those affected by family violence (docx, 232.6 KB)

Also read Gayathri Paramasivam's LinkedIn post: 4 out of 5... this is our job

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