Mixed bag for the domestic violence sector in Family Court Review

8 August 2012

One key consideration missing from the recently announced Family Court reforms are any changes to Court processes that will encourage more women to seek safety from violent relationships says Women’s Refuge.

“While Women’s Refuge welcomes an increased focus on children, we are disappointed that this has not been carried out in tandem with an increased focus on victims of domestic violence,” says Refuge spokesperson, Kiri Hannifin.

“The general rule is when you keep a mother safe, you will also keep her children safe. These reforms fail to implement changes that would better respond to the link between intimate partner violence and child abuse.”

Women's Refuge does welcome the proposal to extend the definition of domestic violence to include economic abuse which the organisation has advocated for years.

“We also support an increase in the maximum penalty for breaching protection orders. Applying for a protection order can be a very dangerous process for a woman. She needs to know that if a protection order is breached then the law will take it seriously.

“However, changing the penalty is only part of the solution. Women also need to know that Police will act on breaches, something that doesn't always happen.”

Women’s Refuge also has concerns about the newly proposed mandatory out-of-court Family Dispute Resolution service which aims to deal with day-to-day care and contact arrangements around access to children. “While the Minister has said that domestic violence victims will be exluded from this service, this can only be assured when domestic violence is disclosed.”

To see a copy of the Women’s Refuge submission to the Family Court Review contact Kiri Hannifin 021 815 519 or