14 October 2019
National alliance and domestic violence services unite in extraordinary call to stop the Andrews-Hanson inquiry
The national body representing organisations working for women’s safety across the country, Australian Women Against Violence Alliance, has called on Senators to stop the family law inquiry from going ahead.
Domestic and family violence groups across the nation are unanimous in their opposition to the Government allowing the Andrews-Hanson family law court inquiry to pursue a biased and damaging agenda. Since the inquiry was announced, not one service that works with victims-survivors of domestic violence has expressed any support for the process.
“This inquiry is dangerous and unnecessary. Experts in the domestic and family violence sector are unanimous in our opposition. This inquiry will only delay real action when women’s and children’s lives are on the line,” said AWAVA Program Manager, Dr Merrindahl Andrew.
“We call on parliament to stop this harmful and unnecessary inquiry, and instead take immediate action to make the system safer,” said Tiffany King, Co-Chair of CWDVSSA, Coalition of Women’s Domestic Violence Services of South Australia.
“Victims/survivors and the community at large can have no confidence in this parliamentary inquiry when it’s clear it has been designed to create a platform for those who choose not to believe victims/survivors, and is co-chaired by someone who has openly stated her prejudiced view about women raising domestic violence in the Courts” said Hayley Foster, CEO of Women’s Safety NSW.
“Moving forward with this inquiry can only undo important progress our parliament, and community have made in trying to ensure victims of domestic violence can come forward, and be believed,” said Kedy Kristal, Policy Officer of the WA Women’s Council for Domestic and Family Violence Services.
“It just seems to be a waste of taxpayers’ money, coming immediately after two major inquiries into family law,” said Karen Bentley, National Director of WESNET – The Women’s Services Network.
“The biggest priority of our Government should be in implementing the changes that previous inquiries have already shown are needed,” said Heidi La Paglia, Project Officer at Women With Disabilities Australia.
“The current system is manifestly unfit for purpose – failing to identify harm, actively discouraging people from disclosing violence, and forcing children into contact with abusive parents. Indeed, the system is not only failing to protect those subjected to violence – in many cases it is facilitating further violence and harm,” said Lindy Edwards, Coordinator of Seras Women’s Shelter (Townsville).
More than one in three children post-separation report feeling “not at all safe” in their care arrangements. This system is failing children.
The violent misuse of power is having a devastating impact in our communities. The use of control, manipulation and financial abuse widespread; and every single week a woman’s life is taken from her by horrific violence from a partner or ex-partner. So many of the people trying to escape this domestic violence and abuse are forced through the family law system. It’s beyond time that this system was made safe.
Dr Merrindahl Andrew
AWAVA Program Manager
Ph: 0428 541 396
Urgent reforms needed now for safety
Independent experts through several reviews have already determined what’s required, and the government needs to act urgently on those recommendations to put safety at the centre of the system.
We call on the government to immediately work with practitioner experts across the family law system, including women’s specialist domestic and family violence peak and practitioner bodies, to:
- Make sure courts identify and manage domestic and family violence risks safely
- Build specialisation into the family court response
- Implement an accreditation and training framework, and
- Ensure victim-survivors of family violence are supported
These reforms can and must be implemented without delay, notwithstanding any inquiry.