Focus of reform

3.51 The recommendations in this Report can be viewed from two distinct perspectives—a systems perspective, and a participant perspective. The overarching, or predominant principle is that of seamlessness and to achieve this, both perspectives must be connected, to the greatest extent possible, within the constitutional and practical constraints of a federal system. This seamlessness is expressed in recommendations focused on improving legal frameworks and improving practice.

3.52 The improvement of legal frameworks will be achieved through:

  • a common interpretative framework, core guiding principles and objects, and a better and shared understanding of the meaning, nature and dynamics of family violence that may permeate through the various laws involved when issues of family violence arise;
  • corresponding jurisdictions, so that those who experience family violence may obtain a reasonably full set of responses, at least on an interim basis, at whatever point in the system they enter, within the constraints of the division of power under the Australian Constitution;
  • improved quality and use of evidence; and
  • better interpretation or application of sexual assault laws.

3.53 The improvement of practice will be achievedthrough:

  • specialisation—bringing together, as far as possible, a wide set of jurisdictions to deal with most issues relating to family violence in one place, by specialised magistrates supported by a range of specialised legal and other services;
  • education and training;
  • the development of a national family violence bench book;
  • the development of more integrated responses;
  • information sharing and better coordination overall, so that the practice in responding to family violence will become less fragmented; and
  • the establishment of a national register of relevant court orders and other information.

3.54 The Commissions reiterate that the range of recommendations in this Report are presented as a whole and that—given they are limited to recommendations about improving legal frameworks—they can only go a small part of the way to responding to family violence. The recommendations are of application across the state, territory and federal spheres and implementation will depend not only on the willingness and support of all relevant governments, but also on the development of integrated, supportive and specialist law and practice.