May is Domestic Violence Prevention Month and so it was appropriate that the Attorney-General, the Honourable George Brandis QC, officially launched the Family Advocate and Support Services trial in Parramatta Court last month. This is an initiative to assist families experiencing family violence as they move through the Family Law System.
For those of us who work in the area of family law and those who have experienced family violence, understand that people experiencing family violence need support beyond just legal advice that is provided. This new service sees the duty lawyers at the Family Court work with the specialist family violence support workers to help the parties navigate their way through the Court system and also consider issues such as risk assessments and safety planning.
This initiative is part of the Commonwealth’s investment of over $1.7 billion in the legal sector with other improvements announced by the Attorney-General including:
- amendments to the Family Law Act to ensure that victims of violence are not cross examined by alleged perpetrators;
- additional Domestic Violence Units; and
- a comprehensive review into the Family Court System.
The space for, and conversation around domestic and family violence must continue and initiatives and funding can ensure that the outcomes of the “Not Now – Not Ever” report from 2015 are put into practice.
Joelene Nel is a Family Lawyer, Nationally Accredited Mediator, and Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner. She can be contacted at McLaughlins Lawyers on (07) 5591 5099.
Author: Joelene Nel
Director: Sophie Pearson