Stop press—new legislation

Family violence amendments to the Family Law Act passed

1.57 On 24 November 2011, as this Report was going to Press, the Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2011 (the Family Violence Bill) passed through the Australian Parliament.

1.58 The Family Violence Bill introduces a new definition of ‘family violence’ in the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth). This substantially implements a recommendation made by the ALRC and the NSW Law Reform Commission in the 2010 report, Family Violence—A National Legal Response. The report recommended a consistent two-part definition across the Family Law Act and certain state and territory legislative schemes.

1.59 In this Report, the ALRC extends this position, recommending that the Commonwealth legislation under review also adopt the consistent-two part definition similar to that previously recommended, now also largely contained in the Family Law Act. This issue is considered in Chapter 3 of this Report.

Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Bill

1.60 In November 2011, the Australian Government introduced the Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Bill 2011 (Cth), and its companion, the Northern Territory (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2011 (Cth) into the House of Representatives. The bills ‘form a part of [the Government’s] next steps in the Northern Territory’.[59] All three bills were referred to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee which is due to report on 29 February 2012.

1.61 The Stronger Futures Bill is intended to replace the Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007 (Cth) and contains three key measures—‘the tacking alcohol abuse measure, the land reform measure and the food security measure’.[60] In addition, the Government also introduced elements of the Social Security Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 (Cth), which applies beyond the Northern Territory, in order to provide ‘greater flexibility in for the operation of income management so it can be implemented in’ five new sites.[61] It also contains proposed reforms to allow referrals by recognised state or territory authorities to trigger income management as well as measures in relation to enrolment and school attendance. Income management is considered in Part C of this Report.

[59] Commonwealth, Parliamentary Debates, House of Representatives, 23 November, 6 (J Macklin—Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs).

[60] Explanatory Memorandum, Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory Bill 2011 (Cth).

[61] Explanatory Memorandum, Social Security Legislation Amendment Bill 2011 (Cth).