LABOR WILL STAND UP FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE VICTIMS
Labor has announced its intention to pursue reforms to the Family Court to prevent domestic violence victims being cross-examined in court by their abusers.
Federal Member for Blair, Shayne Neumann, was a family lawyer for over 23 years prior to entering Parliament and is pleased to see Labor taking leadership.
“This is a shocking practice which must be stopped as soon as possible,” Mr Neumann said.
“I have seen firsthand that subjecting victims to hostile questioning by the perpetrators of domestic violence in court inflicts new and fresh trauma. It often makes victims reluctant to take their cases to court.
“This is unacceptable. Victims should not have to wait for a Labor Government which is why Labor is calling on the Turnbull Government to act immediately.”
The Government has long promised to address this situation but unfortunately Malcolm Turnbull has failed to act.
As part of the policy pledge, Labor is committed to:
- Amending the Family Law Act 1975:
- To compel a judge to consider, when domestic violence is alleged, whether any vulnerable witness should be protected during court proceedings under a range of mechanisms already available under the Family Law Act 1975 using existing resources and facilities; and
- So that if the judge believes that the available mechanisms under the Family Law Act 1975 are insufficient to protect a vulnerable witness, the judge is empowered to direct that all unrepresented litigants in the matter be represented by Legal Aid.
- Committing $43.2 million over four years to Legal Aid, to ensure both parties in a domestic violence case can be adequately represented without the need for personal cross-examination.
This reform has been called for by survivors of abuse, families and activists for years.
“It is not acceptable that the Turnbull Government, which has made many promises on domestic violence, has so far failed to deliver on the majority of them.”
Mr Neumann said that six months ago the Turnbull Government finally agreed to consider the Productivity Commission’s recommendation to prevent perpetrators of family violence from personally cross-examining their victims.
“To date, we have not seen a formal response.
“Last year the Turnbull Government announced it would spend $12 million on trialling the use of innovative technology to keep women safe. From that money, only $180,000 has been delivered so far.”
In addition, the Turnbull Government has already thrown Legal Aid and Community Legal Centres (CLCs) into crisis with its cruel funding cuts. The 30 per cent funding cliff faced by CLCs in July next year will make a bad situation even worse. Only a fraction of the much-lauded $30 million domestic violence package announced by Mr Turnbull recently will go to legal services.
“This is just not enough funding. The prevalence of family violence in Australia, and in our local community, is not just a national disgrace, it is a national crisis.
“The Turnbull Government must do better to combat this crisis.”
Mr Neumann said Labor is committed to an Australia free from domestic and family violence.
“I am determined to work tirelessly towards this goal.”
*If you cover this story, or any story regarding violence against women and children, please include the following tagline:
“If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000”