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Family Law

Family Violence Protection

By December 21, 2016No Comments

By Kate James

Over the last few years family violence has been spotlighted as one of the major social issues facing Australia. Spokespeople like Rose Battie have caused a shift in our thinking from family violence being a part of private life, to a phenomenon that should be addressed and supported in the public sphere.

This in turn has demanded a greater policy response from Federal and State governments. Prior to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting this Friday, Malcolm Turnbull has announced it will soon be a crime to breach personal protection orders issued by federal family courts. The reform by the federal government shows that family violence is no longer a matter for behind closed doors, but a public concern. Police will have the power to immediately charge offenders for breaches of protection orders, meaning that family violence victims won’t have to bring an application to the court. “This new offence sends a clear message that family violence is not a private matter – it is criminal,” Turnbull said in a statement. “The changes will also relieve victims from the cost of taking family law proceedings to enforce an injunction.”

In addition new reform measures will streamline the court process for victims seeking protection from family violence so that they no longer have to appear at an interim hearing to ensure a family violence order is made. The state and territory courts will also need to cooperate to make it easier for victims dealing with family violence cases in multiple jurisdictions.

However these measures still fall short of the proposals in Victoria and Queensland to introduce family violence leave as a workplace entitlement. Victoria also wants a new Medicare item for family violence counselling. What the federal government will be asking the states for at COAG is a commitment for a one year extension on funding to the national partnership agreement on homelessness (NPAH). Homeless services can be essential to supporting victims fleeing domestic violence, especially when there are young children involved. However some advocates are arguing that a one year extension on funding is not enough, when the requirement for support is ongoing. Jenny Smith, Chief Executive of the Council of Homelessness has stated that the one year extension on funding seems to be based on “an assumption that supporting people is a business you can turn on and off”. Smith has emphasised the importance of housing services for people fleeing family violence, referring to a woman with preschool-age children who would need support over a “considerable period” with crisis accommodation and more permanent accommodation in the long term as she fled family violence.

Unfortunately family violence is a far too common occurrence, and our lawyers at Alliance Family Law have experience in helping clients through difficult periods and helping them access the services they need. If you or someone you know needs advice on how you can protect yourself and your children from family violence, please call Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400 to make a confidential appointment to speak with one of our lawyers. Our first appointment is free, so that you can ensure that the lawyer handling your matter is someone you trust, feel comfortable with and feel confident that they will handle your needs with professionalism and sensitivity.



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