ALP cross-examination announcement welcome, Turnbull government must now prioritise safety in family law

Women’s Legal Services Australia (WLSA) welcomes the commitment from the federal Labor opposition to prevent domestic violence victims being cross-examined in court by their abusers in the family law system.

Protecting victims from direct cross-examination by their abusers will not only reduce trauma for those women but also improve justice outcomes for everyone involved.

With the Labor opposition and the Greens supportive of reform, action can be taken quickly if the Prime Minister and his Attorney General prioritise this.

Allowing evidence to be delivered without fear or intimidation will improve the evidence going before the courts and ensure they have all the information they need before them to make the best decisions that are safe for women and children.

While this announcement is a fantastic step in the right direction, we remain concerned that direct cross examination will still be possible if court officers are given the final say. An outright ban such as that which exists in the Victorian Family Violence Prevention Act 2008 (at sections 70 and 71) is preferable and possible.

We are calling on the entire parliament to progress the reforms identified in our 5-step plan to put safety first in family law.

How can you take action? Rosie and WLSA have developed a quick and easy form for you to send a message to the Attorney General, Prime Minister and Opposition Leader asking them to change the Family Law Act to empower victims to give evidence without fear.

Our full media release is available here.