Women’s Legal Services Australia (WLSA) welcomes the Australian Government’s announcement that it will be introducing legislation to amend the Family Law Act 1975 to prohibit the direct cross-examination of victims of violence in family law proceedings.
Being directly questioned in court by an abusive ex-partner is not only traumatising it also affects the victim’s ability to give evidence. This can prevent important information being made available to the court to protect children from violence in family law proceedings. Ending the cross-examination by violent ex-partners is a practical and important step to empower victims to give evidence without fear.
WLSA looks forwards to further detail being provided about the implementation of these critically important amendments, including in relation to how the reforms will be funded. Proper funding to implement these amendments will be essential to success.
The Government has also announced additional funding for Community Legal Centres, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and the family law court system. WLSA welcomes greater investment in these areas, particularly additional funding for appropriately skilled family consultants in family law matters and for additional domestic units to deliver integrated specialist legal and social support to survivors of family violence. We look forward to hearing more detail in relation to these announcements.
The Government also announced a comprehensive review into the Family Law Act 1975, to be conducted by the Australian Law Reform Commission. WLSA is interested in learning more details about the proposed review and urges genuine consultation with the sector, in particular those organisations working on the front line with survivors of family violence, from the outset. The voices of women and children affected by violence must be strongly represented in the review process.
You can read our media release in response to the announcement here
You can read the Australian Government’s announcement here