12.1 Chapter 11 and, to a lesser extent Chapter 9, examine family assistance laws largely in their interaction with child support laws. This chapter discusses the family assistance framework and the ways in which it addresses, and in some instances fails to address, family violence. This discussion focuses on the two primary family assistance payments—Family Tax Benefit (FTB) and Child Care Benefit (CCB).

12.2 The safety of family violence victims who are family assistance applicants or recipients should be improved by the reforms targeted at legal frameworks—primarily family assistance, social security and child support—that are proposed in Chapter 4. The proposed reforms regarding family violence screening, information provision and referrals largely address the family violence issues that were raised in Family Violence and Commonwealth Laws—Child Support and Family Assistance, ALRC IP 38 (2010) (the Family Assistance Issues Paper).

12.3 This chapter proposes further reforms specifically targeted at family assistance law and policy, where needed, particularly in relation to CCB. Family assistance legislation provides for increased CCB in certain circumstances. The proposed reforms seek to improve accessibility to increased CCB in cases of family violence. The ALRC proposes that this be achieved by amending the Family Assistance Guide to explicitly recognise family violence as exceptional circumstances that may qualify for increased CCB, and by amending family assistance legislation to lower the eligibility threshold for increased rates of CCB where children are at risk of abuse or neglect.