Impact of Commonwealth laws on those experiencing family violence

The 2010 inquiry into family violence by the Australian Law Reform Commission and New South Wales Law Reform Commission (the Commissions) has identified issues beyond its scope relating to the impact of Commonwealth laws (other than the Family Law Act 1975) on those experiencing family/domestic. In addition, the 2009 report of the National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, Time for Action, acknowledges the importance of examining Commonwealth laws that have an impact upon safety of women and children. 

Reference

I refer to the Australian Law Reform Commission for inquiry and report, pursuant to subsection 20(1) of the Australian Law Reform Commission Act 1996 (Cth), the issue of the treatment of family/domestic violence in Commonwealth laws, including child support and family assistance law, immigration law, employment law, social security law, superannuation law and privacy provisions in relation to those experiencing family/domestic violence.

I request that the Commission consider what, if any, improvements could be made to relevant legal frameworks to protect the safety of those experiencing family/domestic violence. 

Scope of the reference

In undertaking this reference, the ALRC should consider legislative arrangements across the Commonwealth that impact on those experiencing family/domestic violence and sexual assault and whether those arrangements impose barriers to effectively supporting those adversely affected by these types of violence. The ALRC should also 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/domestic violence.

In undertaking this reference, the ALRC should be careful not to duplicate:

  1. the work undertaken in the Commissions’ 2010 family violence inquiry;
  2. the other actions being progressed as part of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children Immediate Government Actions announced by the former Prime Minister on receiving the National Council’s report in April 2009; and
  3. the work being undertaken through SCAG on the harmonisation of uniform evidence laws, in particular the development of vulnerable witness protections and recently endorsed principles for the protection of communication between victims of sexual assault and their counsellors.

Collaboration and consultation

In undertaking this reference, the ALRC should:

  1. have regard to the Commissions’ 2010 family violence inquiry, the National Council’s report and any supporting material in relation to family violence and sexual assault laws;
  2. work closely with the relevant Australian Government departments to ensure the solutions identified are practically achievable and consistent with other reforms and initiatives being considered in relation to the development of a National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children or the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children.

Timeframe for reporting

The Commission will report no later than 30 November 2011.

Dated 9 July 2010
Robert McClelland
Attorney-General