FVI e-newsletter – December 2009

This month in summary

Welcome to the second monthly ALRC Family Violence e-newsletter. Over the last month, we have been extremely busy continuing our consultations and research and have very much appreciated the contributions that many of you have made to our thinking to date.  In response to the ‘Issue in Focus’ last month—on vulnerable witnesses—we received some excellent comments.  Please keep the ideas coming on this and the Issue in Focus this month—see below.  The pilot online forum is also now up and running with 32 participants from the Women’s Legal Services community.

More consultations are lined up over the month and into the New Year leading up to our planned consultation document in early March, which will include a call for submissions.

On behalf of the ALRC/NSWLRC Family Violence Inquiry team, thank you to all those who have taken the time to speak with us—in person, online and in writing. We are extremely grateful for your insights and willing engagement in this challenging Inquiry, particularly at this busy time of year.

Our very best wishes for the festive season and all good cheer for the New Year!

Issue in focus — Variation and revocation of family violence protection orders

Each FVI e-newsletter will highlight an issue in focus. Many of these focus issues will be covered in the Consultation Paper, but this is an opportunity for you to have input into particular issues as our work progresses.

The variation and revocation of protection orders can raise interaction issues between family violence legislation and child protection legislation, and family violence legislation and the Family Law Act.

Q1:  What issues arise concerning the variation and revocation of family violence protection orders? Is there a need for any legislative safeguards?

Q2: In particular, who looks after a child’s interests when the person protected, usually the mother, is attempting to withdraw allegations or is seeking a variation of an order? Are there any particular issues in this regard affecting victims who are

  1. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples; 
  2. from a culturally or linguistically diverse background; or 
  3. suffering from a mental, intellectual or physical disability?

Q3. Are orders ever revoked or varied to gain tactical advantage in other proceedings?

Please respond via the online comment form.

You can still contribute to last month’s Issue in Focus: Vulnerable Witnesses

‘Putting Safety First’ – Forum in Brisbane

The ALRC visited Brisbane on 4 December 2009 for a forum entitled ‘Putting Safety First’, organised by the Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research and Central Queensland University. The forum focused on the interaction of family law with domestic violence and child protection laws and practices, and implications for the safety and well-being of women and children. The forum was very successful, with the ALRC hearing a wealth of information, stories and suggestions from the contributions of passionate and enthusiastic participants in the packed auditorium of the State Library.

The Commissioner in charge of the inquiry, Professor Rosalind Croucher, set the scene by speaking on the brief for the ALRC and NSWLRC Family Violence Inquiry. Zoë Rathus, Amanda Lee-Ross and Rachael Field followed with excellent presentations, including many case studies, and participants engaged energetically in an open forum afterwards. The ALRC also hosted a smaller Roundtable in the afternoon with participants from the forum, including, amongst others, representatives from Women’s Legal Services Queensland, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women’s Legal and Advocacy Service Queensland, the Immigrant Women’s Support Service, and the Queensland Department of Communities.

The ALRC wishes to thank Lynne O’Keefe-Daly, the organiser of the Forum; Heather Nancarrow, Director of the Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research; Justice Berna Collier of the Federal Court, part-time Commissioner of the ALRC, who provided organisational support and facilities for the Roundtable in the afternoon; and, most of all, the forum and roundtable participants, for their time, dedication, and collective wisdom.