On 29 March 2016, the Royal Commission into Family Violence (“the Commission”) delivered its report to Government.
The Commission consulted with victims and perpetrators of family violence along with police officers, specialist family violence workers, lawyers, Magistrates, youth workers, doctors and teachers in the preparation of their report.
The report made 227 recommendations, with key recommendations relating to the following areas:
- Risk assessment and management;
- Information sharing;
- Specialist family violence services;
- Children’s experience of family violence;
- Family violence and the child protection system;
- Court based responses to family violence;
- Offences and sentencing;
- Family violence and the family law system;
- Family violence related deaths;
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people;
- Older people;
- People from culturally and linguistically diverse communities;
- Faith communities;
- LGBTI communities;
- People with disabilities; and
In regard to recommendations relating to the family law system, the report acknowledged that the immediate responses to family violence are dealt with at State level; however, there must also be involvement from the Federal courts who hear family law proceedings. The report raised the challenges of navigating multiple legal systems and highlighted where the Family and Federal Circuit Courts can improve their procedures to support victims of family violence. For example, in Intervention Order proceedings in the Magistrates’ Court, there are provisions which prevent an accused perpetrator from cross examining a ‘protected witness’ such as a victim. There are no such provisions at a federal level and there have been instances in which self-represented victims of family violence have been cross examined by their perpetrators.
Nicholes Family Lawyers looks forward to the implementation of the recommendations of the Commission.