Family violence is a serious social issue that affects the health and well-being of thousands of Australians and has far reaching effects on the Australian community as a whole.
The family law system has a role to play in identifying families at risk of violence and protecting them from harm.
The Australian Government has developed a number of measures to improve the family law system's response to family violence and child abuse.
The Family Relationships Online website provides the details of a range of services for families affected by family violence.
Evaluation of the 2012 family violence amendments
The Attorney-General's Department commissioned the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) to undertake an evaluation of the Family Law Legislation (Family Violence and Other Measures) Amendment Act 2011 (the Family Violence Act) amendments to the Family Law Act 1975 which took effect in June 2012. The results of the evaluation are available on the AIFS website.
Family Law Legislation (Family Violence and Other Measures) Amendment Act 2011
The Family Law Legislation (Family Violence and Other Measures) Amendment Act 2011 (the Family Violence Act), amended the Family Law Act 1975 to help protect children from harm and improve the family law system's response to family violence and abuse.
The amendments do this by encouraging better information about the existence or risk of family violence to be provided to the family courts.
This information helps court officers to assess risks, and make decisions about future parenting arrangements that are safer for children. The amendments will also improve the family courts' ability to identify and respond to cases of violence.
More information on this legislation is available on the Family Violence Act page.
AVERT family violence: collaborative responses in the family law system training package
This training package is designed to give professionals a sound and practical understanding of family violence and promote the safety of those involved in the family law system.
Issues covered include the impact of family violence and strategies for responding to it.
The package was created by this department and caters for a range of professionals working in the family law system.
For more information, or to get a package visit the AVERT Family Violence website.
Coordinated family dispute resolution
The coordinated family dispute resolution pilot program allows family members who are experiencing family violence (or have experienced it in the past) to access a safe family dispute resolution process.
It brings together family dispute resolution practitioners, legal practitioners, domestic violence and men's support services to assist separating parents make parenting arrangements.
The model was developed by the Women's Legal Service in Brisbane.
The pilots took place in five locations across the country as part of the former Australian Government's response to the Time for Action report by the National Council to Reduce Violence against Women. The pilots concluded on 30 April 2013.
The Australian Institute of Family Studies was commissioned to evaluate the pilots. The Final Evaluation Report is available on the Family Law Publications page.
Government response to the Australian and NSW Law Reform Commissions': Family Violence—a national legal response
On 10 October 2010, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) and New South Wales Law Reform Commission (NSWLRC) completed their inquiry into Family Law and Family Violence.
The report on the inquiry provides a further addition to the existing and expanding evidence base that examines the problems that the family law system faces in adequately addressing allegations of family violence and child abuse. It also highlights the need to enhance collaboration between the Commonwealth family law system and the state and territory child protection systems.
The national response to this report was agreed to by the Standing Council on Law and Justice on 4 April 2013 and can be downloaded below from the Standing Council on Law and Justice website.
The national response dealt with the twenty-four recommendations that relate jointly to the Commonwealth, states and territories.
The Commonwealth response to the recommendations in this report was tabled in Parliament on 25 June 2013. The government response can be downloaded below:
This response deals with the 56 recommendations in the report that have been identified as appropriate for the Commonwealth to respond to, independently of the states and territories.