The Committee has adopted the following principles for the conduct of the inquiry. These principles aim to ensure that inquiry processes enable all sections of the community to participate in the inquiry, particularly those that may otherwise have difficulty engaging which the inquiry. The principles also aim to limit the extent to which the inquiry duplicates existing reports to government.
The inquiry will have particular regard to:
- the administration of family violence matters in comparable overseas jurisdictions, as they relate to the inquiry’s terms of reference;
- the particular needs of, and supports required for, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, and disadvantaged and high risk groups, which need to access the family law system; and
- ensuring that the inquiry processes are such that people who have been affected by family violence and who wish to contribute to the Committee can do so:
- in a manner which does not re-traumatise people who have been affected by family violence;from a safe and secure location, where necessary;
- confidentially; and
- in a manner which will not prejudice or compromise current or future family law or other civil or criminal proceedings.
The inquiry will seek to avoid duplicating the work underpinning existing reports to government, and other recent reports into improving how the family law system deals with family violence.*
The inquiry will also have regard to the initiatives currently being progressed by the Australian Government to implement recommendations of the Family Law Council's interim and final reports on Families with Complex Needs and the Intersection of the Family Law and Child Protection Systems, including:
- the publicly agreed review of the Family Law Act 1975, including the provisions in Part VII (provisions governing parenting arrangements), to ensure that the Act supports a family law system that meets the contemporary needs of families today and into the future, and effectively and appropriately addresses family violence and child protection issues;
- the exposure draft of proposed amendments to the Family Law Act, released 9 December 2016, that would strengthen the powers of the courts to protect victims of family violence, and facilitate the resolution of family law matters by state and territory courts in appropriate cases;
- the establishment of Family Advocacy and Support Services in family courts across Australia, to assist families moving between the federal family law system and the state family violence and child protection systems;
- work being undertaken by the Attorney-General’s Department with stakeholders to progress measures to support vulnerable witnesses, and to assist the family law courts to manage the cross-examination of victims of family violence;
- new funding to pilot legally-assisted family dispute resolution, which will be targeted at providing assistance to Indigenous or culturally and linguistically diverse families; and
the development of a National Domestic and Family Violence Bench Book for judicial officers, and a new government-funded training package for judicial officers on the nature and dynamics of family violence.
*Relevant recent reports
Recent reports include, but are not limited to:
Given the sensitive nature of the inquiry participants are asked to ensure that the names and identifying details of parties involved in family law matters, particularly children, are not disclosed when providing input to the inquiry.
Please be aware that the Committee is unable to intervene or provide advice or assistance in relation to individual circumstances. If you are in immediate danger, please contact 000. If you are experiencing distress or would like to speak with someone about your situation, the following support services are available:
- 1800RESPECT National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service: 1800 737 732
- Men's Referral Service: 1300 766 491
- Lifeline: 131 114
- Relationships Australia: 1300 364 277
- Kids Helpline: 1800 55 18