“On 16 March 2017, a Committee of the Australian Parliament adopted an inquiry into how Australia’s federal family law system can better support and protect people affected by family violence. The inquiry was referred by the Attorney-General, Senator the Hon. George Brandis Q.C. The Committee aims to make recommendations that will improve the system for all participants.” (Source)
Members of the public were able to provide feedback in the following ways:
- An anonymous online questionnaire, open until 30 June 2017.
- Community statements for individuals who wish to discuss their experiences of the treatment of family violence within the family law system with the committee.
- Public hearings to gather evidence from stakeholders, including government agencies, non-government organisations, and experts in the policy area.
- Written submissions addressing one or more of the terms of reference to be received by Wednesday, 3 May 2017.
The Chair of the Inquiry is Sarah Henderson MP, who is interviewed here on Sky News Australia. In this interview Ms Henderson unreservedly commends the work of Rosie Batty (strike 1), as well as mentioning some of the specific issues to be addressed in the Inquiry.
One such issue was the possibility of creating some sort of nexus between the nature of court orders made in relation to spousal support and property settlement, and the presence or alleged presence of family violence in the relationship. This is described in the Terms of Reference at point 4:
“How the family law system can better support people who have been subjected to family violence recover financially, including the extent to which family violence should be taken into account in the making of property division orders”
Men are already being blackmailed with allegations of domestic violence or sexual abuse in relation to child custody matters, and now it seems they will also have to worry about the impact of such allegations on their financial affairs (strike 2). How many more male suicides will this generate?
As of 21 June 2017, 114 public submissions have been uploaded onto the Committee’s web site. I tendered a brief submission which can be accessed here (see submission 113).
The Committee subsequently tabled its report in Parliament on 7 December 2017. The report, which makes 33 recommendations, is available to read on the Committee’s web page at this link. The media release for the tabling of the report can also be found at this link.
Under a 2010 resolution of the House of Representatives, the Government is required to respond to the report within six months. When the Government has provided a response it will be made available on the Committee’s web page.
Related media articles:
Lone Fathers President To Address Parliament Inquiry On DV (28 July 2017)
Domestic Violence Inquiry To Take On The Family Law System (23 March 2017)