There are several issues with the proposed Family Law Amendment (Federal Family Violence Orders) Bill 2021 that need to be clarified, says the Law Council of Australia.
Speaking following the public hearing before the legal and constitutional affairs legislation committee, LCA president Dr Jacoba Brasch QC said (pictured) said that while the bill is designed to make things easier for vulnerable people, “we are looking for some clarity on how the proposed scheme will actually work and how it would interact with existing state and territory Family Violence Order regimes”.
The Law Council, she noted, is also concerned about the impact the scheme may have on the workload of the federal family law courts.
“It appears that the proposed Bill only allows for a person experiencing family violence, who has proceedings before the family law courts, to seek a final Federal Family Violence Order (FFVO) and not an interim order,” she posited.
“This means that a person experiencing family violence and who needs urgent or immediate protection, will still seek remedies from the state and territory courts. It is also not clear how a person would apply for and obtain a FFVO, and when that might happen.”
It is critical, Dr Brasch continued, that the government engage closely with the courts and legal assistance bodies, so as to “ensure that any measures proposed are accompanied by adequate resourcing for the courts, their support services, and the legal assistance sector, to cope with the additional workload we envisage will arise should the FFVO regime come into effect”, she said.
LCA also expressed concern that the bill may “inadvertently” create opportunities for perpetrators of family violence to delay determination of family violence and family law issues, by increasing the number, length and cost of family law and family violence proceedings through an additional FFVO pathway.
“Given the serious nature of the Law Council’s concerns, more information about how the scheme will operate and how quickly a final FFVO can be granted is needed,” Dr Brasch said.