The Inquiry

1. On 9 July 2010, the Attorney-General of Australia, the Hon Robert McClelland MP, asked the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) to inquire and report on the treatment of family violence in Commonwealth laws, including child support and family assistance law, immigration law, employment law, social security law and superannuation law and privacy provisions in relation to those experiencing family violence.

2. The ALRC was requested to consider what, if any, improvements could be made to relevant legal frameworks to protect the safety of those experiencing family violence.[1]

3. In undertaking the Inquiry, the ALRC was asked to consider legislative arrangements across the Commonwealth that have an impact on those experiencing family violence and whether those arrangements impose barriers to supporting effectively those adversely affected by this type of violence. The ALRC was also asked to consider whether the extent of sharing of information across the Commonwealth and with state and territory agencies is appropriate to protect the safety of those experiencing family violence.

Issues papers

4. To form one basis for consultation the ALRC is releasing a series of four Issues Papers covering the treatment of family violence in:

  • child support and family assistance law;
  • immigration law;
  • employment and superannuation law; and
  • social security law.

5. These Issues Papers are intended to encourage informed community participation in the Inquiry by providing some background information and highlighting the issues so far identified by the ALRC as relevant to the Inquiry. The Issues Papers may be downloaded free of charge from the ALRC’s website,

6. The Issues Papers will be followed by the publication of a Discussion Paper in mid-2011. The Discussion Paper will contain a more detailed treatment of the issues, and will indicate the ALRC’s current thinking in the form of specific proposals for reform. The ALRC will then seek further submissions and will undertake a further round of national consultations in relation to these proposals.

Request for submissions

7. With the release of these Issues Papers, the ALRC invites individuals and organisations to make submissions in response to specific questions, or to any of the background material and analysis provided.

8. There is no specified format for submissions. The ALRC welcomes submissions, which may be made in writing, by email or using the ALRC’s online submission form. Submissions made using the online submission form are preferred. Submissions will be published on the ALRC website, unless marked confidential. In the absence of a clear indication that a submission is intended to be confidential, the ALRC will treat the submission as non-confidential.

Submissions using the ALRC’s online submission form can be made at:

In order to inform the content of the Discussion Paper, submissions addressing the questions in this Issues Paper should reach the ALRC by 21 April 2011.

[1] The full Terms of Reference are available on the ALRC’s website at