Terms of Reference

The practice of dowry and the incidence of dowry abuse in Australia, with particular reference to:

  1. the extent and nature of knowledge regarding cultural attitudes to, the practice of, and the prevalence of dowry in Australia, both before and after marriage;
  2. the appropriateness and impacts of dowry as a cultural practice in modern Australia, taking account of our national commitment to gender equality and human rights, and approach to multiculturalism;
  3. reports of dowry abuse, including potential links to family violence, pretext for arranged marriage, forced marriage, modern day slavery, financial abuse, domestic servitude, murder, and other crimes, as well as any connections between dowry abuse and adverse mental health outcomes for affected women, including self-harm and suicide;
  4. the adequacy of the family law system, including how divorce and property settlement proceedings deal with dowry and dowry abuse, and the operation of and need for extra-jurisdictional (including international) enforcement mechanisms;
  5. confirmed and potential links between dowry, dowry abuse and forced and/or arranged marriages, both in Australia and in connection with Australia’s migration program;
  6. the adequacy of Australia’s migration law system in terms of addressing dowry and dowry abuse, including:
    1. the extent to which the requirements for spouse and family visas may enable or prevent dowry abuse,
    2. vulnerabilities experienced by women suffering dowry abuse as a result of temporary migration status, including disincentives to report dowry abuse and the ability of victims to access the family violence protections afforded by the Migration Act 1958 and associated regulations, and
    3. recommendations for change if necessary;
  7. training and reporting regimes that apply to Commonwealth, and State and Territory police forces and family violence services in relation to dowry and dowry abuse;
  8. investigation of laws and practices in international jurisdictions, in relation to defining dowry and combating dowry abuse, with particular regard to how these approaches could be applied the Australian context;
  9. the adequacy of current Commonwealth and State and Territory laws in establishing broadly accepted community norms and in preventing dowry abuse, and specific recommendations for change if laws need to be strengthened; and
  10. any other related matters.

Committee Secretariat contact:

Committee Secretary
Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Phone: +61 2 6277 3560

About this inquiry

The practice of dowry and the incidence of dowry abuse in Australia.

Past Public Hearings

03 Dec 2018: Canberra
30 Nov 2018: Sydney
21 Sep 2018: Melbourne


Inquiry Status

Accepting submissions


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