Law Council welcomes new domestic violence inquiry
The Law Council has welcomed the Morrison government’s inquiry into family, domestic and sexual violence after the failure of the Senate inquiry.
Building on a $150 million support package launched in March, the Morrison government issued a draft terms of reference for an inquiry into domestic violence, which follows major backlash at the Senate inquiry’s failure to deliver substantive results for victims.
The inquiry comes as domestic and family violence statistics rise amid the restrictions on movement, imposed by the coronavirus pandemic. Anne Ruston, social services minister, said it is “truly devastating that women and children continue to be killed”.
Law Council of Australia (LCA) president Pauline Wright said the number of women who have been killed at the hands of a current or former partner persists without a significant reduction since 2010, with one in six women experiencing abuse since the age of 15.
“With responses to COVID-19 pandemic posing additional dangers for the victims and the dramatic increase in demand for services being reported with 12 women losing their lives at the hands of their domestic partners since early March, this inquiry will return attention to the urgent need to address the devastating impact,” said Ms Wright.
The proposed terms of reference presented to the parliamentary standing committee with social policy and legal affairs included an investigation into the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the prevalence of domestic violence and provision of support services.
The committee will investigate the way health, housing and economic independence have affected the ability of women to flee from violence and lessons from international issues.
The LCA believes that by examining the coordination between Commonwealth, state and territory agencies as well as business and community is “critical in addressing systematic failures in the system for Australian families” and called on the inquiry to address issues within the justice system, including the underfunding of the family law system.
“The Law Council looks forward to engaging with the Committee and with the Australian Parliament on this important inquiry,” said Ms Wright.