1.1 On 9 July 2010, the Attorney-General of Australia, the Hon Robert McClelland MP, asked the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) to inquire into 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. 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]

1.2 In undertaking the Inquiry, the ALRC was asked to consider legislative arrangements across the Commonwealth that impact on those experiencing family violence and whether those arrangements impose barriers to providing effective support to 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.

1.3 This introductory chapter summarises the background to the Inquiry, its scope, the processes of reform and concludes with an overview of the Discussion Paper.

[1] The full Terms of Reference are set out at the front of this Discussion Paper and are available on the ALRC’s website at <>.