Please see below for an important Media Release from the Attorney General’s office today. It highlights the changes to the Family Law Act, designed to better protect children that are exposed to Family Violence. These changes come into effect today
THE HON NICOLA ROXON MPAttorney-General
Minister for Emergency Management
7 June 2012
new family violence changes take effect
Better protection for children who are exposed to family violence will be available with changes to the Family Law Act that come into effect today.
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said the changes acknowledge the important role of both parents in the upbringing of children while also improving protections for children where family violence is involved.
“These changes place children and their safety front and centre in family law matters,” Ms Roxon said.
“This Government strongly supports a child’s right to a meaningful relationship with both parents where this is safe.
“Unfortunately, more than half of the parenting cases that come to courts involve allegations by one or both parties that the other has been violent.”
The changes to the Family Law Act include:
- disincentives to disclose family violence to the courts have been removed
- the definitions of family violence and child abuse have been updated to clearly set out what type of behaviour is unacceptable – such as physical and emotional abuse and the exposure of children to family violence
- appropriate action is taken to prioritise the safety of children in family law disputes.
Importantly, these changes protect shared care arrangements. This means the Family Law Act will continue to promote a child’s right to a meaningful relationship with both parents, with a stronger emphasise that the child’s safety must come first.
“I am under no illusions about the challenge of tackling family violence in our society,” Ms Roxon said.
“By protecting children that come into contact with our family law system, we are reaching those who have dealings with police, counsellors, lawyers and the courts. But we are also sending a clear message that violence has no place on our society to those many violent family situations in Australia that remain invisible to our legal system.”
“These changes to the law will help reduce the exposure of children to family violence where we know it is happening. This will provide those children with the best opportunity to succeed in life.”
These changes to the Family Law Act follow reports received by the Government from the Australian Institute of Family Studies, the Honourable Professor Richard Chisholm AM, and the Family Law Council.
More information about these changes is available from: www.ag.gov.au/familyviolenceact
For all media enquiries, please contact the Attorney-General’s Office on 02 6277 7300 or 0409 945 476