ABA calls out Senate inquiry for ‘disappointing’ report

ABA calls out Senate inquiry for ‘disappointing’ report

25 May 2020 By Naomi Neilson
domestic violence

As the legal profession condemns a government decision to alter its investigation into the state of domestic violence, the Australian Bar Association weighs in.

In what was supposed to be a search for answers, the Senate voted to establish an inquiry to examine “domestic violence with particular regard to violence against women and their children”. Instead, the inquiry handed in a report three months early, sans public hearings and submissions and leaves the public with more questions than answers.

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The Australian Bar Association (ABA) has expressed its disappointment, particularly with the inquiry refusing to consult with experts or survivors of family violence. Instead, its final report relied on the reviews of four previous inquiries into domestic violence.

ABA president Matthew Howard SC said the decision was “extremely disappointing” and was a “missed opportunity to lead meaningful reform to protect children and families”.

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“Domestic violence is a scourge in our community at any time, and its prevalence is known to increase during times of crisis and stress,” Mr Howard said. “Now more than ever there is a need for comprehensive analysis of the policies, services and programs working well and what we can do better as a nation to address this issue.

“The Senate committee had the means and opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to developing policy in this space to protect Australians at risk. Regrettable, the committee has chosen not to take up that opportunity.”

There was only one mention of “family law support services” in the 44-page report, which ignores the government’s responsibility to resource and properly fund the service provider and the courts who are working with victims of family and domestic violence.

“The establishment of the committee in February 2020 was prescient and provided them a valuable opportunity to hear from survivors of family violence, the community, the courts and key stakeholders on urgent and long-overdue reform,” Mr Howard said.

“If the Australian Parliament does not take the issue of family violence seriously, what message does that send to survivors of family violence in our community?”

ABA calls out Senate inquiry for ‘disappointing’ report
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