Australian campaign calls for family law reform to prioritise safety

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Women's Legal Services Australia is leading a campaign calling on political parties to reform Australian family law to prioritise the safety of women and children.

In a radio interview, Rosie Batty, domestic violence and family law reform advocate, talked about the 5 Step plan to prioritise the safety of women and children in family law. The campaign was launched to address issues of women and children who are victims of domestic violence continuing to be exposed to violence through the family law system.

The 5 step plan outlines the following solutions:

  • "Step 1 – Develop a specialist response for domestic violence cases in family courts
  • Step 2 – Reduce trauma and support those who are most at risk of future violence and death
  • Step 3 – Intervene early and provide effective legal help for the most disadvantaged
  • Step 4 – Support women and children to financially recover from domestic violence
  • Step 5 – Strengthen the understanding of all family law professionals on domestic violence and trauma"

For more information see the campaign website: www.safetyinfamilylaw.org.au

Similar issues have been raised in relation to New Zealand's family law system. University of Auckland researchers Nicola Gavey, Vivienne Elizabeth and Julia Tolmie explored women's experiences of the Family Court and have published a number of articles about women's continued exposure to abusive, coercive and controlling behaviour.

Other international campaigns

Women Against Violence Europe (WAVE) have also launched a campaign aimed "... at improving the availability and access to quality specialised support services for women survivors of violence and their children, calling on decision-makers on the national and European level to provide adequate and sustainable funding to autonomous NGOs providing these life-saving services."

In the campaign blueprint, they highlight women and children's continued exposure to violence during and after separation from a violent partner. The campaign is calling on key decision-makers to:

  • "Actively support prevention and protection for victims of violence against women and girls
  • Commit to improving access to protection and specialised support services for all women and children, especially groups facing multiple discriminations
  • Increase in the number of specialist women’s support services in Europe (women’s helplines, shelters and centres)
  • Improve the quality of services including a gender-sensitive and women’s rights based approach
  • Improve the access of women and children who face multiple disadvantages and discrimination, including those with disabilities and migrant and asylum-seeking women, especially undocumented migrant women."

Media

Rosie Batty urges politicians to 'put safety first' in family law, Radio National Breakfast, 12.05.2016

WLSA launches 5 step plan to keep women and children safe in family law 5 May 2016, Media Release: Women's Legal Services Australia, 05.05.2016