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    The Family Violence Plan

    May 24, 2019 3:43:00 PM

    With the update of the Family Violence Plan in April 2019, the Courts have continued to recognise the importance of protecting those experiencing family violence, and the detrimental impact on the health and wellbeing of separating partners and children in situations of family violence.

    Family Violence

    Family violence, or domestic violence is when someone behaves abusively or violently towards a partner or family member. It involves a pattern of behaviour where one person controls or dominates the other person and causes them to fear for their safety and wellbeing, or of those they care about. It can be physical, sexual, financial, emotional and psychological abuse.

    The Interaction between Family Violence and the Courts

    The Family Court of Australia (FFCA) and Federal Circuit Court of Australia (FCCA) are increasingly faced with the difficultly of assisting people who have experienced or continue to experience family violence. Even after someone ceases to be affected by family violence, they may still be adversely impacted by their experiences. Family violence therefore inevitably informs much of the courts’ practices and procedures.

    The Family Violence Plan

    The Family Violence Plan (‘the Plan’) represents the ongoing commitment by both FFCA and the FCCA to the early identification and management of matters where violence or the risk of violence is alleged, and to keeping all court users safe.

    The Plan sets to meet the following goals:

    • That all staff and judges are aware of and apply the Family Violence Best Practice Principles for the effective, timely and safe disposal of all matters coming before the courts in which family violence or risk of family violence is an issue.
    • That the family law courts collaborate with state and territory courts, police and child protection agencies about existing family law orders.
    • That court staff have the awareness, skills and resources required to ensure that all persons experiencing family violence are dealt with appropriately.
    • That the courts have an understanding of the unique issues for particular communities in relation to family violence and use this information to inform court practice.
    • That the courts’ physical layout complies with the best practice principles for accessibility and safety of all court users.
    • That the courts’ processes and practices comply with best practice for accessibility and safety of all court users.
    • That court users have ready access to relevant information about how the courts can assist them if they have experienced or are at risk of experiencing family violence.

    Conclusion

    The Family Violence Plan aims to effectively address family violence in all matters before the courts, to provide a safe environment for all court users and to enhance the safety of children and their families. The Plan is a continual work in progress and requires the combined efforts of decision makers, legal practitioners, service providers and all others involved in the family law system, to ensure prompt and effective action is taken to protect all court users.

    If you have further questions about family violence and the courts, please contact Karla Elias at kelias@franklaw.com.au.

    This is not legal advice. 

    Karla Elias

    Written by Karla Elias