ALRC releases Discussion Papers on Family Violence and Commonwealth Laws

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) today released its Discussion Paper for the current Inquiry into family violence and commonwealth laws, Family Violence—Commonwealth Laws (DP 76), and is calling for submissions on over 30 proposals for reform.

In November 2010, the ALRC (with the NSW Law Reform Commission) completed its first inquiry into family violence with the release of the report, Family Violence—A National Legal Response (ALRC Report 114, 2010). That report contained recommendations for reform focused on improving the interaction in practice of state and territory family violence and child protection laws with the Family Law Act and relevant criminal laws; and in relation to inconsistent interpretation of laws in cases of sexual assault in the family violence context.

This second inquiry concentrates on the treatment of family violence in specific areas of Commonwealth law—including child support and family assistance law, immigration law, employment law, social security law, superannuation law and privacy law.

ALRC President Professor Rosalind Croucher said, “At this time, the ALRC has decided to make available a printed Summary Discussion Paper that provides an accessible overview of the policy framework and the proposals and questions contained in the full Discussion Paper. The full Discussion paper is only available online from the ALRC’s website, and is divided into parts reflecting each of the areas under review. The Discussion Paper sets out in detail the issues raised by the Terms of Reference, the research behind the proposals and questions and a thorough analysis and discussion of stakeholder views and the ALRC’s views to date. The Summary—also available online—is designed specifically with stakeholders in mind, acknowledging the substantial involvement of many already in the Inquiry, and the familiarity with the issues as set out in the four Issues Papers released in February and March 2011 and subsequent round of consultations. It provides the essential minimum for easy access to the ALRC’s thinking at this critical stage in the Inquiry and is designed for stakeholders with considerable understanding of the various issues in focus in the particular areas under review. In this way we are hoping to facilitate the community’s response to the complex issues that this Inquiry has raised.”

 “In the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Their Children, the Australian Government has identified a clear goal ‘to reduce all violence in our communities’, recognising that ‘whatever the form violence takes, it has serious and often devastating consequences for victims, their extended families and the community’. The overarching objective of this Inquiry therefore reflects the Government’s objective—to protect the safety of those experiencing family violence. In this context, the idea of ‘legal frameworks’ extends beyond law in the form of legislative instruments and includes education, information sharing and other related matters. The overall touchstone throughout the chapters and proposals, however, is one of improving safety.”

Proposals in the Discussion Paper focus around the issues of Social Security, Child Support and Family Assistance, Income Management, Employment, Superannuation and Migration. The ALRC invites individuals and organisations to make submissions in response to the specific proposals and questions, or to any of the background material and analysis provided, to help advance the reform process in this Inquiry.

In order to ensure consideration for use in the final report, submissions addressing the questions and proposals in this Discussion Paper must reach the ALRC by Friday 30 September 2011.

Submissions may be made in writing, by email or using the ALRC’s online submission form. The ALRC encourages stakeholders to use the online submission form available from the ALRC’s website,

To receive updates on this Inquiry, subscribe to the Commonwealth Family Violence e-Newsletter.

The Final Report is due to be presented to the Attorney-General on 30 November 2011.