Thursday, 27 November 2008

Australia to sign Optional Protocol to CEDAW

Australia has today [24/11/08] formally moved to become a party to the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), which was opposed by the former Government.Australia has been a party to CEDAW since 1983. The previous Government refused to sign the Optional Protocol when it was adopted in 2000, despite countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and a number of our Asia-Pacific neighbours doing so. Even today, the Coalition, under Malcolm Turnbull, still opposes this important international human rights instrument.The announcement comes on the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.Attorney-General Robert McClelland and Minister for the Status of Women Tanya Plibersek said that by becoming a party to the Optional Protocol, the Government is making a powerful statement that discrimination against women in any form is unacceptable. “The Rudd Government is committed to overcoming the stereotypes and prejudices that can stifle women’s rights and weaken equality,” Mr McClelland said.“Becoming party to the Optional Protocol demonstrates our commitment to the promotion and protection of the rights of women, both at home and abroad.”Under the Optional Protocol, women in Australia will be able to make a complaint to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women about alleged violation of Australia’s obligations under CEDAW. This can only occur after domestic legal options have been exhausted. The protocol also permits a UN investigation process. “Acceding to the Optional Protocol will send a strong message that Australia is serious about promoting gender equality and that we are prepared to be judged by international human rights standards,” said Minister Plibersek. “It will also add credibility to our offers of support to women across our region.” Australia’s instrument of accession to the Optional Protocol will be lodged shortly in New York, meaning it will enter into force for Australia before International Women’s Day on 8 March 2009.

[Source Ministerial Media Release]

Federal Magistrates Court: intersection of Family Law Act and Bankruptcy Act

The often painful intersection between the family Law Act and the Bankruptcy Act has been illustrated, again, in the recent Federal Magistrates Court case of Zachary and Zachary. it is a salutary lesson to be ever so careful in starting proceedings, and if it is possible to do so under both the Family Law Act and the Bankruptcy Acts, to use both Acts.

The facts

The wife applied for property settlement and spousal maintenance. She had obtained interim injunctions against:
  • the husband, who was bankrupt, and whose bankruptcy had been extended for 5 years, because of his failure to provide explanations to his trustee;
  • a company which employed the husband and in which he had an interest, which owed the husband commissions, estimated at $70,000; and
  • the bankruptcy trustee.

At some stage after he became bankrupt, the husband acquired almost 350,000 shares in the company.

The questions before the court included whether the injunctions should continue and whether the court had jurisdiction to deal with property matters when the husband was an undischarged bankrupt.

The law

Federal Magistrate Kemp stated:


By virtue of the Bankruptcy
and Family Law Legislation Amendment Act 2005
(Cth) (“the Amending Act”),
the Court was given jurisdiction to make orders with respect to vested
bankruptcy property in relation to a party to the marriage who was bankrupt.
Item 60 of Part 2 of Schedule 1 to the Amending Act states as follows:
60
Application of amendments
(1) Subject to sub-items (2) and (3), the
amendments of the Family Law Act
1975
made by this Schedule , to the extent to which they relate to
bankruptcies or personal insolvency agreements, apply in relation to:
(a)
bankruptcies for which the date of the bankruptcy is after the commencement of
this item; and
(b) personal insolvency agreements executed before, at or
after the commencement of this item.
(2) The following provisions:
(a)
subsections 74(2), (3) and (4) of the Family Law
Act 1975
as amended by this Schedule;
(b) subsection 74(8) of the Family Law
Act 1975
as amended by this Schedule, to the extent to which that subsection
relates to subsection 74(2) of the Family Law
Act 1975
as amended by this Schedule;
(c) the definitions inserted in
subsection 4(1) of the Family Law
Act 1975
by this Schedule, to the extent to which those definitions relate
to subsections 74(2), (3) and (4) of the Family Law
Act 1975
as amended by this Schedule;
apply to proceedings instituted
after the commencement of this item, whether the date of the bankruptcy is
before, on or after the date of commencement of this item.
(3) The following
provisions:
(a) subsections 79(11), (12) and (13) of the Family Law
Act 1975
as amended by this Schedule;
(b) subsection 79(17) of the Family Law
Act 1975
as amended by this Schedule, to the extent to which that subsection
relates to subsection 79(11) of the Family Law
Act 1975
as amended by this Schedule;
(c) the definitions inserted in
subsection 4(1) of the Family Law
Act 1975
by this Schedule, to the extent to which those definitions relate
to subsections 79(11), (12) and (13) of the Family Law
Act 1975
as amended by this Schedule;
apply to proceedings instituted
after the commencement of this item, whether the date of the bankruptcy is
before, on or after the date of commencement of this item.

It is clear that in respect of a bankruptcy entered before the commencement
date of the Amending Act being 18 September 2005, there was no jurisdiction in
the Court to deal with the vested bankruptcy property of a bankrupt party to the
marriage. In those circumstances, the Court would adjourn the proceedings until
after the bankrupt party was discharged, when the Court could then deal with
whatever assets the former bankrupt possessed. The power to adjourn being
conferred under s.79(5)
of the Family Law
Act
.

The Amending Act did not, in any event, give the Court jurisdiction to deal
with property other than “vested bankruptcy property”. Accordingly, property
coming to the possession of the [trustee] as a result of the operation of other
provisions of the Bankruptcy Act (such as the income contribution scheme or as a
result of proceedings under the anti-avoidance provisions) which moneys do not
fall within the concept of “vested property” for the purposes of the Bankruptcy
Act
and are held solely for the purposes of distribution amongst creditors
and not for the benefit of the bankrupt would not be within the Court’s
jurisdiction to deal with.

The findings

The Court accepts the submissions of [counsel for the trustee] that the
[wife]’s present application seeks relief only under the provisions of the Family Law
Act
and accordingly, this Court’s original jurisdiction under the Bankruptcy
Act
is not engaged.

The Court further accepts the submissions of [counsel for the trustee] that
this Court does not have jurisdiction over the [trustee]under the Family Law
Act
for the following reasons:

  • The Transitional provisions contained in Item 60 of Part
    2
    Schedule 1 of the Amending Act, as set out above, make it clear that the
    operative provisions of s.79(1)-(10)
    of the Family Law
    Act
    do not operate where the date of bankruptcy, as here, is prior to 18
    September 2005.
  • The Court does not accept [the wife's counsel's] submission that the
    extension of the life of the bankruptcy on 25 August 2006 in effect creates a
    further or new act of bankruptcy, in this case, after the date of amendment of
    the Family Law
    Act
    , so as to give the Court the power to deal with the vested estate of the
    first respondent in this case.
  • The said Transitional provisions make it clear that the operative provisions
    relating to maintenance of s.74
    (2), (3), (4) and (8) and relating to property of s.79(11),
    (12), (13) and (17) of the Family Law
    Act
    which apply to bankruptcies existing both before and after 18 September
    2005 do so on the basis that it is the [trustee] who must apply “to be joined as
    a party to the proceedings”. The [trustee] has not applied in these proceedings.
    The Court does not accept [the wife's counsel's] submission that there is no
    significant difference between the trustee making an application to be joined
    and the applicant in this case, joining the trustee.
  • There is little factual evidence before the Court for it to determine the
    nature of the unpaid commissions, (save [the counsel for the trustee's]
    submission that the amount is about $70,000.00) in terms of whether they are
    characterised as property which vests in the Trustee or as income which would be
    exempted property. Whilst the definition of property in s.5
    of the Bankruptcy
    Act
    is wide enough to encompass income, see Re
    Gillies; Ex-parte Official Trustee in Bankruptcy Re Gillies (1993) 42 FCR
    571
    (French J. as he then was). Division 4B of the Act establishes a
    comprehensive scheme and accordingly where it is inconsistent with ss.58
    and 116,
    Division 4B applies rather than those last mentioned sections. Accordingly if
    the relevant item has an income nature, it will not vest in the Trustee, see Re
    Sharpe; Ex-parte Donnelly (1998) 80 FCR 536
    (Lockhart J.). The Court is of
    the view that if the loan account in the third respondent is property it has
    been derived out of income and would not be divisible under s.116
    of the Bankruptcy
    Act
    .
  • Section
    139P
    of the Bankruptcy
    Act
    states, subject to s.139Q
    of that Act, that if the income that a bankrupt is likely to derive during a
    contribution assessment period as assessed by the Trustee under an original
    assessment exceeds the actual income threshold amount applicable in relation to
    the bankrupt when that assessment is made, then the bankrupt is liable to pay to
    the Trustee a contribution in respect of that period. Income over and above the
    amount the bankrupt is required to pay to the Trustee and which is accumulated
    is not after acquired property which vests in the Trustee. The bankrupt is
    entitled to deal with that surplus income for example by way of an offer to
    creditors when proposing a composition in satisfaction of debts see Re Gilles
    (supra). The contribution payable by a bankrupt is determined by the application
    of the formula set out in s.139S.
    Any assessments made by the Trustee may be the subject of review by the
    Inspector General and then the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. The
    contributions that a bankrupt is liable to pay may be payable at such times as
    the Trustee determines and the Trustee may permit such sums to be paid by
    instalments. The total of any contributions or instalments that are not paid by
    the bankrupt are recoverable by the Trustee as a debt due to the estate of the
    bankrupt. The Trustee under s.139ZG
    may sign a Certificate setting out the nature and the amount of the debt and
    file such certificate in the Court in which proceedings have been instituted and
    that Certificate will be prima facie evidence of the existence and the amount
    the debt. The Certificate so issued essentially shifts the onus of proof from
    the Trustee to the bankrupt. However, the bankrupt still has standing to contest
    the debt and adduce evidence to show why such an assessment should not be
    accepted and to attack the validity of any underlying certificate.
  • The second respondent has certain rights under the Bankruptcy
    Act
    , to have the Official Receiver issue, in effect, a statutory garnishee
    notice to the third respondent to pay the outstanding debt towards the income
    contribution, creating in effect a statutory charge in favour of the second
    respondent.
  • To the extent that the applicant seeks relief under s.79 and/or s.74
    of the Family Law Act
    in respect of:
    vested property within s.58 of the Bankruptcy Act (s.59A
    of the Bankruptcy
    Act
    having no application) and the Court accepts the shares in the
    [company]are in this category as are any dividends received on those shares;
    and/or
    monies (being the commission income that the [husband] has received
    from the [company] deposited into a loan account in his name) which become
    payable to the [trustee]on account (relevantly) of assessed Income Contributions
    which have accrued or which will accrue during the period of the bankruptcy,
    being a debt due by the first respondent to the second respondent, held for the
    benefit of the trustee’s remuneration and the creditors entitled to participate
    in the bankruptcy under his administration,
    they are beyond power. This is
    so, notwithstanding any agreement by the Trustee, as jurisdiction cannot be
    conferred on the Court simply by the consent of the parties.
    Accordingly,
    property and maintenance proceedings can only be maintained against the
    [husband] in respect of the property not vested in the [trustee] - [in other
    words, the shares and unpaid commission
    ].

Kemp FM then dismissed the proceedings as against the trustee.

Kemp FM held:


In light of the above, the Court is also of the view that the first
respondent will otherwise remain a party and in such circumstances, [the
solicitor for the husband]would be entitled to make submissions on his behalf as
any submissions to the Court would necessarily relate to non vested bankruptcy
property (that is exempt property including income, superannuation or financial
resources). In those circumstances, Ms Reid would not need leave under ss.79(12)
and (13) and ss.74(3)
and (4) of the Family Law
Act
which provide as follows:
s.79(12)
If a bankruptcy trustee is a party to property settlement proceedings, then,
except with the leave of the court, the bankrupt party to the marriage is not
entitled to make a submission to the court in connection with any vested
bankruptcy property in relation to the bankrupt party.
s.
79(13)
The court must not grant leave under subsection (12) unless the court
is satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances.
s.74(3)
If a bankruptcy trustee is a party to proceedings with respect to the
maintenance of a party to a marriage, then, except with the leave of the court,
the bankrupt party to the marriage is not entitled to make a submission to the
court in connection with any vested property in relation to the bankrupt
party.
s.74(4)
The court must not grant leave under subsection (3) unless the court is
satisfied that there are exceptional circumstances.

In any event, even if the Court was required to find exceptional
circumstances, the Court is satisfied that such exceptional circumstances exist
here, based on the need to afford the husband procedural fairness in being able
to make submissions referrable to the impact of the injunctions on him and in
respect of any orders seeking periodic and urgent spousal maintenance and costs
as these would otherwise have a direct impact on him in:

  • being able to financially support his children;
  • being able to meet his day to day living expenses;
  • being able to meet his obligations to his creditors and the Trustee in
    bankruptcy;
  • being able to discharge his bankruptcy.

Kemp FM discharged the injunctions against the trustee in part because they would restrain the trustee from exercising his statutory duty, but kept in place the injunctions against the company.

Federal Magistrates court case: impact of drugs, should monies spent on drugs be added back?

In the recent Federal Magistrates Court case of Hogan and Hogan, Federal Magistrate Altobelli had to consider the impact of the husband's marijuana consumption. The proceedings were both parenting and property proceedings.

In the parenting proceedings, Altobelli FM stated that the issues included:

Does the husband's consumption of cannabis raise any issues about the need to
protect the children from physical or psychological harm from being subjected
to, or exposed to, abuse, neglect or family violence? Related to this, of
course, is whether the husband's consumption of cannabis affects his capacity to
provide for the needs of the children, or perhaps reflect on his attitudes to
the children, and to the responsibilities of parenthood?

In the property proceedings, Altobelli FM stated that the issues included:


Should the husband's expenditure on the purchase of cannabis for his own use be
added back as notional property, on the basis that it is waste?

Principles of impact of drugs in parenting cases

Altobelli FM set out these principles:

In a case where it is alleged that one or both parents, or any person involved in the care of a child, are addicted to drugs, this is highly relevant because, potentially:
    • It might undermine or even destroy the meaningful relationship that exists
      between child and parent (s.60CC(2)(a));
      and/or
    • It creates a need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm
      from being subjected to, abuse, neglect, or family violence attributable to the
      drugs (s.60CC(2)(b));
      and/or
    • It adversely impacts on the nature of the relationship of the child with the
      drug dependent person (s.60CC(3)(b));
      and/or
    • It impairs the capacity of that parent or person to provide for the needs of
      the child: (s.60CC(3)(f));
      and/or
    • It demonstrated a poor attitude to the child and to the responsibilities of
      parenthood (s.60CC(3)(i));
      and/or
    • It might lead to situations of family violence (s.60CC(3)(j)).


    From a social science perspective, parenting and drug addiction are a
    potentially dangerous mix for the child. Drug dependence creates a
    pre-occupation that is inconsistent with responsible parenthood. The compulsion
    for drugs is not inconsistent with parental love, but is often inconsistent with
    the ability to meet the needs of children. Choices are often made that
    compromise the ability of parents to protect their children. Funding and
    maintaining a drug habit creates instability in family life. Children can often
    become secondary priorities, and thus vulnerable to harm. Routines are often
    disrupted. Sometimes drug dependency leads to exposure to criminal behaviour and
    the criminal law. Even if a parent is physically present for a child, drug
    dependence often leads to emotional unavailability for children, which is
    sometimes the most damaging impact. In short, parental capacity is grossly
    compromised. (See generally Barnard M., Drug Addiction and Families, London:
    Jessica Kingsley; 2007.)


    This research is background material to my judgment. It is not evidence.
    It is not material in respect of which I take judicial notice, and I make no
    findings of fact as a result of this material. It is background material, and it
    assists in understanding the expert evidence provided by the Family Consultant.
    One also lives in hope that parents might learn from it.

The husband's drug use

The parties' evidence was like chalk and cheese:


The only issue that arises under this consideration relates to the husband's
consumption of cannabis. In short, and simplifying the husband’s case to a few
words, he says "There is nothing to protect the children from." In effect, he
denies that he has an addiction. He says the children have never seen him smoke
cannabis. He says there is no evidence of actual abuse or neglect of the
children. He says he has complied with the orders that were made by Henderson
FM. He points out that he has held a responsible, full-time job as an
[educational professional] for an extended period of time. He points out that in
all of the wife's evidence, there is minimal criticism of him in terms of his
parenting generally. Finally, his argument is that all of the evidence - his
own, the wife's, and the Family Consultant's - all point to the strength of the
children's relationship with him.
However, from the wife's perspective, she
asserts that the husband has attempted to mislead both the Family Consultant and
the Court about the nature and extent of his consumption of cannabis. She says
this affects his credibility and that, indeed, a finding of addiction is clearly
open on the husband's own evidence, though she concedes that his actual
consumption varies from time to time. Whilst the wife acknowledges that the
husband's consumption of cannabis was a feature of the entire period of their
marriage, she argues that during the marriage she was there to provide a safety
net for the children, but this has become more problematic since separation. The
wife's concerns about the husband's consumption of cannabis is both
retrospective and prospective. Indeed, she argues that the greatest risk to the
children is in the future, and that as they become older, his consumption
becomes increasingly harder to hide and there is a real concern about the poor
role model that he will present to the children.
The husband responds to the
wife's criticisms by pointing out that they are inconsistent with her stated
position in relation to parenting orders. Indeed, he says that her concerns
about his consumption of cannabis are exaggerated and that this is the best
explanation for the wife's own proposal that he spend 4 nights a fortnight with
the children. He points out that the wife does not even seek supervision of his
time with the children, nor does she propose a regime of drug testing.
The
husband's evidence about his consumption of cannabis was presented in a rather
minimalist form. In...his affidavit ..., he states:
I no longer smoke any
cannabis. I have also quit smoking tobacco...


Furthermore he said he has had no cannabis since that affidavit, but
perhaps smoked it the week before that, an event that he described as a "lapse".
The husband was cross-examined at length about this issue. He agreed that
three weeks before the hearing he had smoked a joint of hydroponic cannabis. He
conceded that he had done a fair bit of smoking over the years, that he has
periodically smoked cannabis, but not since the affidavit. Indeed, he agreed
that he had been smoking cannabis for 20 years. When pressed about the
inconsistency of asserting that he no longer smokes cannabis when he had, in
fact, smoked cannabis a week before signing the affidavit, he had to agree that
the evidence before the Court did not give a full disclosure and history of his
consumption of cannabis. He agreed that it was difficult to give up smoking
cannabis.
In cross-examination his evidence was that in 2008 he had smoked
cannabis five or six times. He described it as "an unusual event" possibly
happening every six weeks or so. He asserts that he had not smoked cannabis for
two months before his appointment with the Family Consultant. When it was put to
him that having regard to a 20-year history of consumption it was rather
inconsequential not to smoke for two months, his response was that he did not
know. He certainly agreed that there was nothing remarkable in stopping for two
months. He agreed that he had tried, during that period, to give it up several
times, but without success. He agreed that his consumption of cannabis was a
concern to the wife that she had expressed to him several times, and indeed a
significant matter in the breakdown of their relationship. He agreed that if he
were under the influence of cannabis, and driving a motor vehicle, there would
be a risk to the children. When it was suggested to him that there have been
numerous times when he had been under the influence of cannabis and driving the
children his response was, "Not numerous, but a few times". He said, however,
that this had certainly not occurred in 2008, with or without the children. The
last time he consumed cannabis was at his home, on the balcony. When he consumed
cannabis at the former matrimonial home, it was outside.
The husband's
evidence is that he last purchased cannabis last year, and that his consumption
this year was of cannabis that had been gifted to him by a friend. He gave
evidence that the current price of cannabis is $400 an ounce, but he denied that
it was a very expensive drug to use. He estimated that over a period of 10 years
he had spent $20,000 in the purchase of cannabis for his own use. This was
calculated on the basis of 20 $100 deals each year. During the marriage, he
described his consumption as every few days, but not regularly, and certainly
not daily. He asserted that out of every $100 purchase of cannabis, he would be
able to make 30 joints, when mixed with tobacco. He estimated that a $100 deal
would last him about 10 days. His evidence was that there were periods in the
marriage when he was not consuming cannabis at all.
He was cross-examined
about whether, in his opinion, his consumption of cannabis presented any
"downside" for the children. His response was that he did not think so because
he did not smoke in front of them, or in their presence, it was always outside
and, indeed, they would be in bed. He was firmly of the view that the children
did not know that he was smoking, even though, in all likelihood, both his
clothes and the vehicle he drove smelt of cannabis. His evidence was, in effect,
that the children would not know what cannabis smelt like and that, in any
event, they had never said anything to him. He denied that the consumption of
cannabis had an after-effect on him, except on a few occasions when he became
lethargic. He agreed, however, that the consumption of cannabis assisted him
going to sleep. The husband categorically refuted allegations of the wife that
...... he was under the influence of cannabis when he attended the home to
collect the children. Whilst he agrees that he may well have smelt of cannabis,
his evidence was that he did not consume it that day and that he did not believe
his speech to be slurred.

Conclusion about use: husband is addicted


I believe that the totality of the evidence leads to the inevitable
conclusion that the husband is addicted to cannabis, in the sense that, for the
husband, the consumption of cannabis permeates his life and is not something
that can be controlled. I agree with the submission made by Counsel for the wife
- the effect of the husband's evidence to the Court, and his statements to the
Family Consultant, was quite misleading about the nature and extent of his
consumption of cannabis. I accept that his evidence indicates that his
consumption fluctuates from time to time and that he is able to control it for
periods of, perhaps, up to two months. However, the consumption of cannabis has
been a feature of the husband's life for the last 20 years, by his own
admission. His own evidence was that his expenditure on cannabis was about
$2,000 a year, consisting of 20 $100 deals. Each deal led to 30 joints of
cannabis when mixed with tobacco, and each deal would last 10 days
approximately. This means, however, on the husband's own evidence, that he would
consume 600 joints each year. This sort of usage is clearly one that permeates
the husband's life and, in that respect, constitutes an addiction. It is hardly
the controlled use that was asserted on his behalf.

An expert Dr B gave evidence about the impact of marijuana use on parenting:

Dr B ... was asked the question whether there is reliable research that
addresses the issue about the effect on parenting, of the consumption of
cannabis. He explained that there was no specific literature on that issue, and
that most of the literature concerned addiction to alcohol. His opinion,
however, was that occasional use of cannabis was of little concern, but
dependent use is different. He opined that occasional use of cannabis is
consistent with being able to parent. However, he emphasised that there is a
need to assess the individual, rather than to make broad generalisations from
the research.

Conclusion about time between dad and the kids

His Honour ordered that the father be able to spend time for half of school holidays and during term from Thursday until Monday one week and overnight Friday in the other week. The husband was also ordered not to consume cannabis when spending time with the children or for 24 hours before.

Altobelli FM stated:

During the period of cohabitation I accept that the wife provided a safety
net for the children and, to that extent, sought to protect them from any
possible adverse consequences of their father's addiction. I accept that since
separation she has maintained her concern but sought to balance that concern
against her own acknowledgment that the children need to spend time with their
father. In the future, however, the children will become older and much more
perceptive to what is happening around them, including what they observe in
their father, and what they notice by way of smells. It is a fact that most
children at primary school and high school undertake routine instruction about
the effect of addictions of all sorts, including cannabis. Even if it is the
case that the father has succeeded in hiding his addiction from his children in
the past, it is inevitable that they will become aware of it at some time in the
future. When that happens, what sort of role model will he be for his own
children?
During his Counsel's closing submissions, I put to her what I
considered might be, on the husband's own case, a worst case scenario for the
children. That scenario is one where the husband becomes under the influence of
cannabis as a result of consuming the same, outside the house, after the
children had gone to bed. What would happen if an emergency arose that night
that required the husband to be fully alert and able to make a quick and correct
judgment call in a potentially life-threatening situation? Counsel quite
properly responded by articulating the reality of modern society, i.e., that
there are many, many families who confront drug and alcohol addiction problems
and yet still seem to function at an acceptable level. She suggested, however,
that the evidence here indicated that he does not smoke when the children are in
his care and that, in any event, he offers undertakings and would certainly
abide by any order such as that imposed by Henderson FM. By inference, the
response to my hypothetical scenario was that the risk was a minimal and
manageable one under the circumstances. However, the evidence before me
indicates that the husband has, on his own evidence, smoked up to 600 joints of
cannabis a year, so I would have to be reticent about accepting an undertaking
from him not to do so when the children are in his care and, moreover, I would
have to be sceptical about his capacity to comply with any order I make to that
effect.
I accept that the husband is a good parent when he is not under the
influence of cannabis. However, when he is under the influence of cannabis, he
is not as available for his children as he otherwise should be, and needs to be.
The context of this discussion is that the husband applies for an order that he
have the care of his children on an equal time basis, i.e., seven out of 14
nights. Implicit in his proposal is that he would not consume cannabis at all
during the time immediately before and during this period of care of the
children. But this period of abstinence is not something that I believe the
husband is capable of achieving and/or sustaining, having regard to his own
evidence. Perhaps, at some future time, he might be able to demonstrate to me,
or another Court, that he has conquered his addiction to cannabis and that might
invite, at that time, and subject to all the other relevant considerations, a
reconsideration of his request for equal time. On the evidence before me,
however, I could not possibly conclude that equal time was in the best interest
of these children because of the concerns I would have about his reduced
capacity to meet their needs whilst under the influence of cannabis, and the
resultant need to protect them from the risk of abuse and neglect.
I have
not lost sight of the fact that the wife herself proposes four nights a
fortnight, knowing full well (indeed, probably better than anybody else) about
the precise extent of the husband's addiction to cannabis. Her rationale is that
the children need their father and have a good relationship with him. Indeed,
they do. From my perspective, however, the less time the husband has with the
children, the greater the chance that he is, indeed, able to control his
addiction so that he does not consume immediately before or during the time that
he has them in his care. ...

I recognise that the husband, and possibly other sections of the community,
might find my decision harsh and uncompromising. I can understand that
perception. After all, the husband holds down a very responsible and respected
position as a [educational professional]. I recognise that there is no evidence
before me to indicate there has been any actual abuse or neglect of these
children, and I recognise that by depriving these children of more time with
their father, I might in fact be inhibiting them from spending time with their
father which might enable them to build on the good relationship that he already
has with them. Notwithstanding all of that, my decision is informed by both the
objects and principles of Part
VII
of the Family Law
Act
as contained in s.60B.
I note, for example, that the best interests of children are met by ensuring
that they have the benefit of both parents having a meaningful involvement in
their lives to the maximum extent consistent with their best interests. Another
object is clearly about protecting children from being subjected to or exposed
to abuse and neglect. I am charged with the responsibility to ensure that the
children receive adequate and proper parenting so they can achieve their full
potential, as well as ensuring that parents fulfil their duties and meet their
responsibilities concerning the care, welfare and development of their children.
A parent who suffers an unfortunate addiction is not available to achieve the
objects that I have emphasised above. The husband is a responsible, respectable
person who, unfortunately for his children, suffers from an addiction to
cannabis. It is within his power to deal with that addiction.

Property: was spending on cannabis "waste"?

His Honour stated:


As indicated above, the husband conceded that he spent $20,000 purchasing
cannabis during the period of their relationship. That is the only evidence
there is about the extent of this expenditure. The wife asserts that it is waste
and it should be added back to the property pool as notional property in the
control of the husband. According to the description of waste enunciated by
Baker J in Kowaliw (referred to above) the husband would have had to act
recklessly, negligently or wantonly with matrimonial assets, the overall effect
of which was to reduce or minimise the value of the same. On behalf of the wife,
it is submitted that the consumption of cannabis was an illegal activity and it
thus falls within the category of waste.

On behalf of the husband, it is submitted that the evidence before the Court
does not sustain such a finding, and that, in any event, the husband's
consumption was something that the wife acceded to. I am certainly not satisfied
that the evidence indicates that the wife either approved or acceded to his
consumption of cannabis. It is more likely the case that she felt helpless in
the face of what I have found to be an addiction on his part. However, I am not
sure that the mere fact that it was an illegal activity necessarily constitutes
the expenditure as waste.
I think the essence of the waste principle is, in fact, whether the activity could be characterised as a joint or individual one.
The consumption of cannabis was clearly an addiction that was attributable to
the husband alone, and not the wife. There is no conceivable benefit that could
be attributed to the wife arising out of this activity. There was no conceivable
improvement in life that could be enjoyed by the family as a whole. It was an
entirely selfish pursuit, designed to produce pleasure and possibly some form of
relief to the husband. If he had not spent this money, I think there is a strong
inference that it would have been enjoyed by the family in some other way. Under
these circumstances, I conclude that his expenditure on cannabis should be added
back as notional property. I note, however, that it comprises a tiny proportion
of the overall pool of assets.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Federal Magistrates Court- commenting on research about time with children, conflict between parents

In the recent Federal Magistrates Court case of Garvey and Eccles, Federal Magistrate Altobelli took into account research about the impact on children about both issues of time and conflict. His Honour noted that it was not evidence, but background material, but also hoped that parents might learn from it.

His Honour also found that there wa snot sufficeint evidence to justify a move by the mother from Sydney to Bathurst on the basis of her having multiple schlerosis. The mother argued that because she had MS, and stress aggravated or may have aggravated MS, and Bathurst was a less stressful place than Sydney, therefore she should be allowed to relocate.

His Honour's comments on the research

His Honour stated:


Like many disputes relating to children, this is a dispute about dividing
the child’s time between the parents. A leading Australian researcher has
reflected on this phenomena in an article entitled “Time to rethink time? The
experience of time with children after divorce”[1][ Bruce Smyth, “Time to rethink time? The
experience of time with children after divorce” Family Matters No. 76, Winter
2005 page 4]


Smyth refers to the notion of time as part and parcel of the
‘custody wars’ between parents. He says about time at page 4: “...Parents fight
about it, courts divvy it up, and children long for it.” Smyth goes on to say
some important things about time at page 9 of the article:
A solid body of
data also suggest that it is the quality of relationships between parents, and
between parents and children, that exerts a critical influence on children’s
wellbeing, not the amount of time per se (Amato and Gilbreth 1999; Pryor and
Rodgers 2001). Of course, an emotionally close and warm relationship between
parents and children requires time to sustain it. “Quality time” needs time.

According to Kelly and Lamb (2000), the greater the range of contexts
for interaction between parents and their children, the better. They suggest
that different contexts facilitate children’s social, emotional and cognitive
development, as well as afford greater opportunities for parents to build
emotional bonds with their children.

It is the intermingling of different activities and the different
experiences of time that diverse contexts bring that form the hub of family
life, and which are critical for family wellbeing. For instance, overnight stays
allow for the experience of mundane everyday routines, as well as special
moments – such as putting children to bed, reading to them, saying good night,
and starting the day together over breakfast. Focused one-on-one together time
(such as playing a game, talking in the car, reading a book together, or helping
with homework) sends a clear signal to children that they matter. Outdoor time
(such as fishing, netball, or hiking) provides opportunities for children’s
emotional, physical, social and cognitive development, and give parents the
chance to mentor, and to remain engaged with, their children. Fun time (such as
long-weekends and school holidays) or special time (such as birthdays, Mothers’
or Fathers’ Day, and Christmas) foster the pursuit of mutually rewarding
experiences for children and parents, help create bonds between each and
symbolise those bonds, and can create positive life-long memories.

But while these, and other, types of time are important for children’s
and parent’s wellbeing, one type of time warrants special attention:
being-in-the-moment time. This type of time involves unstructured, spontaneous,
intimate time where a parent and child are free to “hang out”, talk about
things, or engage in activities that are important to them (such as a teenage
daughter talking about boyfriend problems while her father peels potatoes).
Post-separation parenting arrangements that involve thin slices of parent–child
time, such as daytime-only contact each Saturday afternoon, work against the
experience of “being” time as this sort of time needs to feel natural and
unimpeded to create the conditions for free-flowing interpersonal
engagement.
This is a social science perspective on time, and its
significance in the context of children’s relationships with their parents. Section
65DAA(3)
is the Family Law
Act
’s attempt to incorporate this social science perspective into law. The
definition of substantial and significant time sets a high benchmark (“...only
if...”) for the very diverse forms of cumulative interaction between a parent
and child described in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) of that section.

Parental conflict and shared parenting

Some recent Australian research has urged
caution about shared parenting arrangements in families where there is a high
level of parental conflict. McIntosh J and Chisholm R in ‘Shared Care and
Children’s Best Interests in Conflicted Separation: A Cautionary Tale From
Current Research’ (2008) 20(1) Australian Family Lawyer 3 report high levels of
anxiety in children for families exhibiting certain characteristics. They
conclude as follows:
Neither the general conditions for children’s healthy
emotional development nor the specific new findings described above contradict
the core principle underpinning the new legislation, namely that most children
will benefit from having both parents actively and cooperatively involved in
their lives after separation. The data reported here suggest, however, that a
group of children are liable to slip through the safety net of considerations
designed to ensure that children do in fact benefit from shared parenting. The
findings sound a strong cautionary note about applying the new presumptions to
cases characterised by ongoing high conflict between parents. We have shown how,
in living between and within climates of ongoing dispute and emotional
pre-occupation, the mental health ‘benefits’ of substantially shared care
accrued by children are questionable.
By implication, then, the ‘safety net’
of considerations through which we filter the ‘best interests’ questions
attached to shared physical care needs to be more tightly woven. The task is to
sensibly guide ourselves through the socio-legal and often highly emotive
contexts that surround the issue, in order for developmentally appropriate
decisions can be made in each case.
The research outlined here suggests that
substantially shared care arrangements may entail risks for children’s healthy
emotional development in families that have the following specific factors,
especially in combination:[2] [ Whether a factor should be treated as a
contra-indication or a caution will be determined by severity, chronicity, and
the capacity for change. (endnote from article)]


Parent factors:
Low levels of maturity and insight;
A parent’s poor
capacity for emotional availability to the child;
Ongoing, high levels
conflict;
Ongoing significant psychological acrimony between parents;
Child is seen to be at risk in the care of one parent.
Child factors:
Under 10 years of age;
The child is not happy with a shared arrangement;
The child experiences a parent to be poorly available to them.


In keeping with the findings of Johnston et al (1989), the new Australian data
suggest that shared physical care is an arrangement best determined by the
capacity of parents to exercise maturity, to manage their conflict and to move
beyond egocentric decision-making in order to adequately embrace the changing
developmental needs of their children. When considering ‘the benefit to the
child of a meaningful relationship with both parents’, considerable weight
should be given to the need of the child for care and contact arrangements that
protect them from parental dynamics otherwise likely to erode their
developmental security. Here, the capacity of parents for ‘passive
cooperation’[3] [ Personal communication, Bruce Smyth, October
2007. (endnote from article)]
and the containment of acrimony may prove
to be central benchmarks.

This research is consistent with earlier research undertaken by
Johnston J “Children’s Adjustment in Sole Custody Compared to Joint Custody
Families and Principles for Custody Decision Making” (1995) 33 Family and
Conciliation Courts Review 415 at 420:
A small minority of divorcing parents remain in ongoing high conflict. This subgroup constitutes about 10% of all divorcing families (Maccoby & Mnookin, 1992). Ongoing high conflict is identified by multiple criteria, a combination of factors that tend to be, but are not always, associated with each other: intractable legal disputes, ongoing
disagreement over day-to-day parenting practices, expressed hostility, verbal
abuse, physical threats, and intermittent violence. Research findings to date
indicate that high-conflict divorced parents have a relatively poor prognosis
for developing cooperative co-parenting arrangements without a great deal of
therapeutic and legal intervention. Those parents who met the multiple criteria
of high conflict at the time of divorce were likely to remain conflicted over a
2-to 3-year period. At best, they became disengaged and non communicative with
one another; they were less likely to become more cooperative over this period
of time (Johnston, 1992; Maccoby & Mnookin, 1992).
The studies, as a group, consistently concluded that ongoing and unresolved conflict between divorced parents has detrimental effects on children, especially boys. Children are particularly hurt by witnessing physical violence between their parents
(Johnston, 1992). In divorced families where there was ongoing conflict between
parents, frequent visitation arrangements and joint custody schedules were
likely to result in increased levels of verbal and physical aggression between
parents, compared to similar families who had sole custody arrangements,
especially at the times of transitions when children moved between their
parents’ homes.


Of even greater concern was the finding that more frequent
transitions and more shared access between high-conflict parents were associated
with more emotional and behavioural disturbance among children, especially
girls. These children were likely to be more depressed, withdrawn, and
aggressive, and to suffer from physical symptoms of stress (such as stomach
aches, headaches, etc.); they were also likely to have more problems getting
along with their peers, compared to children with fewer transitions and typical
sole custody access plans.[4] Ibid at 420.

Johnston then provides a general principle to guide decision making in
high conflict families at 423:
... recognizing that highly conflictual
parents (as defined above) have a poor prognosis for becoming cooperative,
custody arrangements for this special subpopulation should allow parents to
disengage from each other and develop parallel and separate parenting
relationships with their children, governed by an explicit legal contract (a
parenting plan) that determines the access schedule. A clearly specified,
regular visitation plan is crucial, and the need for shared decision making and
direct communication should be kept to a minimum.

This research is background material to my judgment. It is not
evidence. It is not material in respect of which I take judicial notice, and I
make no findings of fact as a result of this material. It is background
material, and it assists in understanding the expert evidence provided by the
Family Consultant. One also lives in hope that parents might learn from
it.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Today is White Ribbon Day

The United Nations

On 17 December 1999 the United Nations adopted Resolution 54/134 designating 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.



The General Assembly stated that it was:


  • Concerned that violence against women is an obstacle to the achievement of equality, development and peace.........and to the full implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,

  • Concerned also that some groups of women, such as women belonging to minority groups, indigenous women, refugee women, migrant women, women living in rural or remote communities, destitute women, women in institutions or in detention, the girl child, women with disabilities, elderly women and women in situations of armed conflict, are especially vulnerable to violence,

  • Recognised that violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of their full advancement, and that violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into subordinate positions, compared with men,

  • Recognised also that the human rights of women and of girls are an inalienable, integral and indivisible part of universal human rights, and recognising further the need to promote and protect all human rights of women and girls,

  • Alarmed that women do not fully enjoy their human rights and fundamental freedoms, and concerned about the long-standing failure to protect and promote those rights and freedoms in relation to violence against women.


History of the Day


Previously, 25 November was observed in Latin America and a growing number of other countries around the world as "International Day Against Violence Against Women". With no standard title, it was also referred to as "No Violence Against Women Day" and the "Day to End Violence Against Women". It was first declared by the first Feminist Encuentro for Latin America and the Caribbean held in Bogota, Colombia (18 to 21 July 1981). At that Encuentro women systematically denounced gender violence from domestic battery, to rape and sexual harassment, to state violence including torture and abuses of women political prisoners. The date was chosen to commemorate the lives of the Mirabal sisters. It originally marked the day that the three Mirabal sisters from the Dominican Republic were violently assassinated in 1960 during the Trujillo dictatorship (Rafael Trujillo 1930-1961). The day was used to pay tribute to the Mirabal sisters, as well as global recognition of gender violence.



Today 25 November 2008 is White Ribbon Day, also declared by the UN as International Dat for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

The Mirabal Sisters
The three sisters, Patria, Minerva, and Maria Teresa were born to Enrique Mirabal and Maria Mercedes Reyes (Chea) in 1924, 1927 and 1935 respectively in the Cibas region of the Dominican Republic. All three were educated in the Dominican Republic, Minerva and Maria Teresa going on to achieve university degrees.

All three sisters and their husbands became involved in activities against the Trujillo regime. The Mirabal sisters were political activists and highly visible symbols of resistance to Trujillo’s dictatorship. As a result, the sisters and their families were constantly persecuted for their outspoken as well as clandestine activities against the State. Over the course of their political activity, the women and their husbands were repeatedly imprisoned at different stages. Minerva herself was imprisoned on four occasions. Despite Trujillo’s persecution, the sisters still continued to actively participate in political activities against the leadership. In January 1960, Patria took charge of a meeting that eventually established the Clandestine Movement of 14 June 1960 of which all the sisters participated. When this plot against the tyranny failed, the sisters and their comrades in the Clandestine Resistance Movement were persecuted throughout the country.

In early November 1960, Trujillo declared that his two problems were the Church and the Mirabal sisters. On 25 November 1960, the sisters were assassinated in an "accident" as they were being driven to visit their husbands who were in prison. The accident caused much public outcry, and shocked and enraged the nation. The brutal assassination of the Mirabal sisters was one of the events that helped propel the anti-Trujillo movement, and within a year, the Trujillo dictatorship came to an end.

The sisters, referred to as the "Inolvidables Mariposas", the "Unforgettable Butterflies" have become a symbol against victimization of women. They have become the symbol of both popular and feminist resistance. They have been commemorated in poems, songs and books. Their execution inspired a fictional account "In the Time of the Butterflies" on the young lives of the sisters written by Julia Alvarez. It describes their suffering and martyrdom in the last days of the Trujillo dictatorship. The memory of the Mirabal sisters and their struggle for freedom and respect for human rights for all has transformed them into symbols of dignity and inspiration. They are symbols against prejudice and stereotypes, and their lives raised the spirits of all those they encountered and later, after their death, not only those in the Dominican Republic but others around the world.

Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence came out of the Global Campaign for Women’s Human Rights. In June 1991, the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership with participants of the first Women’s Global Institute on Women, Violence and Human Rights, a forum involving 23 women from 20 countries called for a global campaign of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. The campaign would highlight the connections between women, violence, and human rights from 25 November to 10 December 1991. The time period encompassed four significant dates: 25 November, the International Day Against Violence Against Women; 1 December, World AIDS Day; 6 December, the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre of 6 December 1989, when 14 women engineering students were gunned down for being feminists; and 10 December, Human Rights Day.
The White Ribbon Campaign is the largest effort in the world of men working to end violence against women . In over fifty-five countries, campaigns are led by both men and women, even though the focus is on educating men and boys. In some countries it is a general public education effort focused on ending violence against women.
History of the White Ribbon Campaign

Following the Montreal Massacre, in 1991, a handful of men in Canada decided they had a responsibility to urge men to speak out about violence against women. Wearing a white ribbon would be a symbol of men's opposition to violence against women. With only six weeks of preparation, 100,000 men across Canada wore a white ribbon, while many others were drawn into discussion and debate.
White Ribbon Day is celebrated on 25 November each year.
Wearing a white ribbon
This is a personal pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls. Wearing a white ribbon is a way of saying, “Our future has no violence against women.”
White Ribbon Day in Australia
The White Ribbon Campaign is co-ordinated by the White Ribbon Foundation. In some States the campaign is organised by government. In Queensland it is organised by Australia's CEO Challenge Ltd, a charity.
Disclosure: I am a white ribbon ambassador, and a partner and board member of Australia's CEO Challenge Ltd.

South Australia: boost to preventative care for babies

Supporting South Australian children and families

November 20, 2008
Speaking on Universal Children’s Day, the Health Minister, John Hill, has announced that the SA Government's Family Home Visiting program will be extended across the state in 2009.

Introduced four years ago to support families and positive parenting, the program currently operates across the entire Adelaide metropolitan area and in regional areas including the Riverland, Whyalla, Port Augusta, Mount Baker, Southern Hills and most recently Port Lincoln.

Next year, the program will extend to Mount Gambier, Eyre Peninsula, Murraylands region, Mid North, Yorke Peninsula, the Fleurieu Peninsula and Kangaroo Island.

The Family Home Visiting program is a part of the Government’s Every Chance for Every Child program, and complements the Universal Home Visiting Program, which was taken up by over 16,000 families in the year ending 30th June 2008.

The Universal Home Visiting Program gives families a chance to meet a Child and Family Health Nurse in their baby’s early weeks, for their first health check and to help them with issues like feeding and settling.

If the nurse believes the family would benefit from additional support, they can refer them the Family Home Visiting program.

Families in the program receive up to 34 visits from a Child and Family Health Nurse until the child’s second birthday.

Health Minister John Hill said, “We want to provide support to all families who could benefit – whether they’re in the city or the country.

“In the 12 months to 30 June this year, 454 families completed the program, and another 1,291 were actively involved.

“Expanding the program means more families will have the opportunity to receive extra support and experience the longer term benefits.

“This is an outstanding and incredibly valuable service for families with new babies who need a bit of extra support - it’s all about doing what we can to give our children the best possible start to life.”

Monday, 24 November 2008

Queensland: to change response to domestic violence

Queensland has issued a discussion paper seeking public responses as to how Queensland responds to domestic violence.

Public responses are due by 19 December.

Here is the discussion paper:


Consultation paper






A Queensland Government
strategy to target
domestic and family violence 2009–2013



October 2008


Table of contents

Foreword.. 3
Introduction.. 4
Background. 5
A Queensland Government strategy to target domestic and family violence. 5
Context.. 6
About domestic and family violence. 6
Current Queensland responses.. 9
Key Challenges.. 10
Responses in other jurisdictions.. 11
Five areas for action.. 12
Prevention (a focus on healthy relationships) 13
Early identification. 13
Connected support services. 14
Perpetrator accountability. 16
System planning and coordination. 17
Response sheet.. 19





Foreword

It is never acceptable for anyone to experience violence in their family, nor is it acceptable that such violence is kept hidden. The Queensland Government is determined to tackle the causes of domestic and family violence through a range of new and expanded initiatives that build upon the foundations established over the past 20 years.

Domestic and family violence affects all communities, whether wealthy or disadvantaged, urban or remote and the human and financial cost to individuals, families and the community is significant. Federal and state governments have a key leadership role in addressing domestic and family violence. However, the government, private and community service sectors and the broader community need to work together if we are to reduce the incidence of domestic and family violence.

We recognise the commitment, dedication and expertise of all those who work hard to prevent domestic and family violence, to support those experiencing it to live lives free from violence, and to provide opportunities for those who commit acts of violence to change.

Accordingly, this consultation paper invites feedback on the development of a Queensland Government strategy to target domestic and family violence.

This consultation paper proposes a vision, principles and goals for the strategy, and areas for action and improvement. Your feedback on the proposed directions will contribute to developing a strategy which builds on and strengthens the significant efforts to date.

We are committed to working with all sectors to reduce the incidence and impact of domestic and family violence.






Hon Lindy Nelson-Carr MP Hon Judy Spence MP
Minister for Communities Minister for Police





Hon Margaret Keech MP
Minister for Women
Introduction

Australia is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women and United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Queensland Government is committed to enabling all people, particularly women and children, to live lives free from domestic and family violence.

This consultation paper seeks your feedback, as a key stakeholder, on:

· the development of a whole-of-government strategy to target domestic and family violence
· specific areas in which effort or improvement will be of most benefit to people at risk of or affected by domestic and family violence.

The Queensland Government anticipates that a domestic and family violence strategy will enable greater focus on those areas in need of action, promote the use of new models to improve outcomes for victims, and make perpetrators responsible for their behaviour.

There are a range of views on how to best target the complexities of domestic and family violence in Queensland. This consultation paper offers a starting point for discussion. Some initiatives may require significant development and further investment by government, while others will simply improve the use of existing resources. The Queensland Government will make decisions about the funding of particular initiatives following consideration of the final strategy.

We value your knowledge and experience with the domestic and family violence service system and appreciate your feedback and suggestions.

You can respond to this consultation paper by:
1. completing the ‘Response sheet’ at the back of this paper
2. returning your response by post or email to the Department of Communities
3. submitting your response online by accessing the government’s Get Involved website http://www.getinvolved.qld.gov.au/

Method
Address
By post
Department of Communities
Domestic and Family Violence Strategy Team
Strategic Policy and Evaluation Directorate
GPO Box 806
Brisbane QLD 4001
By e-mail
dfvconsultation@communities.qld.gov.au
Online
www.getinvolved.qld.gov.au

Responses are due by Friday 19, December 2008.

The Department of Communities will not disclose your personal details, your organisational details, or submission information without obtaining consent, unless required by law.

For additional hard copies, please call the enquiries line on 1800 081 934.

Background
To date, the Queensland Government has developed a number of initiatives to reduce domestic and family violence. The Safe Families – Safer Communities Policy and Action Plan 2001–2003 and Coordinating Efforts to Address Violence Against Women 2002–2005 identified significant gaps and overlaps in the way government agencies responded to violence. While results were achieved through these initiatives, more needs to be done to tackle the causes of domestic and family violence (not just the crisis), connect support services for victims and ensure perpetrator accountability.

The need to develop a new, whole-of-government strategy to address domestic and family violence was identified as part of the response to the Crime and Misconduct Commission’s 2005 report Policing domestic violence in Queensland: Meeting the challenges.

A Queensland Government strategy to target domestic and family violence
The vision, principles and goals that Queensland Government agencies have agreed to uphold when responding to domestic and family violence require a focus on the safety of all people, particularly women and children, and the accountability of those who are violent.

We recognise that targeting domestic and family violence is a long-term prospect which needs continued, collaborative and sustained effort and investment. Our strategy will build on the investments and achievements to date to tackle the causes of domestic and family violence.
Vision
Our vision for the domestic and family violence strategy is to create communities where all people feel safe and valued, and live free from domestic and family violence.
Principles
The following principles have been developed to inform future program initiatives and to govern the way that government agencies, private and community services sectors work together:
· All people have the right to be free from violence and to be safe in their relationships.
· The safety and wellbeing of the child will be paramount where adult interests conflict with child interests.
· Communities are supported to say no to violence and to foster healthy relationships.
· Culturally appropriate approaches are required within mainstream services that provide access into the service system for vulnerable groups.
· People who are violent are held accountable and responsible for their behaviour and are provided with opportunities to change.
· Partnership between all levels of government, private and community services sectors and the broader community is critical.
· Reporting, monitoring and an action learning approach are essential to promote innovation.
Goals
The domestic and family violence prevention strategy has two overarching goals:

1. To ensure people, particularly women and children, experiencing domestic and family violence are safe, adequately protected and supported.
2. To ensure people who commit acts of domestic and family violence are monitored and held accountable and responsible for their behaviour.
Methodology
Queensland Government agencies have worked together to produce the framework set out in this consultation paper. Five areas for action across the continuum of domestic and family violence responses have been identified through research, literature reviews, consultation across government agencies and targeted information gathering with domestic violence service providers.

Queensland Government partners to the strategy will include:
· Department of Communities (including the Office for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships and Multicultural Affairs Queensland)
· Queensland Police Service
· Office for Women
· Department of Child Safety
· Queensland Health
· Department of Education, Training and the Arts
· Department of Housing
· Disability Services Queensland
· Department of Justice and Attorney-General
· Legal Aid Queensland
· Queensland Corrective Services
· Department of Emergency Services.

Context
About domestic and family violence
Defining domestic and family violence
Domestic and family violence occurs when one person in a relationship uses violent and abusive tactics to maintain power and control over the other person/s in the relationship. People who experience these acts of abuse or violence often feel afraid and unsafe and can suffer physical injuries. The violence can take many forms, ranging from physical, emotional and sexual assault through to financial control, isolation from friends and family, threats to harm pets, loved ones or self and constant checking on whereabouts. Some people may not recognise they are being abused.

Domestic and family violence can take place between people in a range of domestic relationships including spousal, intimate personal, family and informal care relationships. The range of relationships identified in the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 1989 reflects the changing nature of domestic and family arrangements that exist in contemporary Australia.

Although this strategy focuses on domestic and family violence-specific responses, we recognise that the violence occurs within a social context and is linked to other environmental and individual risk factors. These factors include social isolation, financial and housing stress, attitudes to masculinity and femininity, drug and alcohol use and mental illness or mental health concerns.
Key facts and statistics
The following summary of key facts and statistics on domestic and family violence highlights groups that have an increased risk of vulnerability and who face additional difficulties in accessing assistance. There is limited available research and data specific to Queensland, particularly in relation to incidence and prevalence.


FACT
STATISTICS
SOURCE
Most domestic and family violence is committed by men against women.
For the 12 months prior to the ABS survey, of those women who were physically assaulted:
o 31 per cent were physically assaulted by a current and/or previous partner, compared to just 4.4 per cent of men.
o 64 per cent of incidents occurred within the home for those who experienced physical assault by a male.
o Only 36 per cent who experienced physical assault by a male perpetrator reported it to police.
Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey Australia 2005
Many children are affected by domestic and family violence.
61 per cent of persons who experienced violence by a previous partner reported that they had children in their care at some time during the relationship.
Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey Australia 2005
Indigenous females are more likely to be hospitalised or become victims of intimate partner homicide than non-Indigenous females.







Indigenous women and children are among the most victimised people in the community.
Indigenous females were 35 times more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence than other Australian females.

For Indigenous females, about 50 per cent of hospitalisations for assault were family violence-related (compared to 20 per cent for men).



45 per cent of Indigenous homicides occurred after a domestic altercation compared to 23.7 per cent of non-Indigenous homicides.
Schmider, J., and Nancarrow, H. (2007) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Family Violence – Facts and figures. Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research: Mackay.

Mouzos 2001 in Schmider and Nancarrow

Blagg et al., 2000 in Crisis Intervention in Aboriginal Family Violence: Summary Report. University of Western Australia (2000).
People living in regional, rural and remote areas of Queensland may be at a higher risk of experiencing domestic and family violence due to geographical barriers and isolation from friends and family. People may also be reluctant to access services due to a lack of confidentiality in small communities (which may lead to intimidation of the victim).
Reported domestic violence rates were highest in very remote Australia (16.7 Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) periods per 1,000 population), remote Australia (12.8), outer regional (3.4), inner regional (2.6), and major cities (2).
SAAP/Australian Institute on Health and Welfare data 2004–2005
People from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who experience domestic and family violence may find it more difficult to engage with services due to a range of factors, including:
o different attitudes in their country of origin towards women and domestic violence
o differences between the Australian (and Queensland) service system and the one in their country of origin
o fear and/or mistrust of police or medical personnel
o linguistic and cultural barriers to seeking and accessing support.
7.5 per cent of women born in non-English speaking countries had experienced violence by their partner during the course of the relationship.

13.1 per cent of women in SAAP funded services during 1999–2000 were women from a non-English speaking background.
Australian Bureau of Statistics, 1996



Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2000.
People with a disability (including those with impaired capacity) are at increased risk of being victims of domestic and family violence due to the inherent vulnerability of some forms of disability and subsequent reliance on informal support people or carers.

People with a disability are also more vulnerable to some forms of violence, such as sexual violence, financial abuse or controlling behaviour.
Women with disabilities in general experienced intimate partner violence 40 per cent more often than other women.
Brownridge (2006) cited in A Framework for Influencing Change: Responding to Violence Against Women with Disabilities 2007–2009. Victorian Women and Disabilities Network
Older people can be susceptible to abuse because of their dependence on others, social isolation, mental and physical health and carer stress. Abuse can remain unreported due to feelings of powerlessness, shame and fear of retaliation and institutionalisation.
2.6 per cent of older people aged over 65 years were found to be mistreated by family, close friends or care workers in one United Kingdom study.

2.7 per cent of older people aged over 65 years were found to be abused in one South Australian telephone self-report study.
O’Keefe et al (2007) in Sanderson and Mazerolle, 2008.


Dal Grande et al (1999) in Sanderson and Mazerolle 2008.
People in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex relationships who experience domestic and family violence may find it more difficult to receive appropriate support due to:
o differing methods of control (such as threatening to ‘out’ the person)
o lack of community understanding.
A range of studies have sought to determine the prevalence of domestic and family violence in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex relationships. It is generally agreed that it occurs at the same rate as within heterosexual relationships.


Vickers, L. (1996) The second closet: domestic violence in lesbian and gay relationships: a western Australian perspective. Murdoch University Electronic Journal of Law.
Domestic and family violence represents a high workload for the police and the Courts.
There were 13,305 Domestic Violence Protection Orders and 7,580 Temporary Domestic Violence Protection Orders made in 2006–07.


8,978 breaches of Domestic Violence Orders were reported in 2006–07.


Calls received by the Queensland Police Service between 1 April to 30 September 2003 for the Gold Coast and Redcliffe districts demonstrate high incidence of domestic violence:
o 28,814 calls for service in the Gold Coast.
o 23,438 calls for service in Redcliffe.
Data provided to the Department of Communities by the Department of Justice and Attorney-General (August 2007).

Annual Statistics Review 2006/07 Queensland Police Service.

Policing domestic violence in Queensland (2005). Crime and Misconduct Commission.
Queensland communities perceive family violence and physical assault as problems in the neighbourhood, although this perception is declining.
In 2004–05, 37.4 per cent of Queenslanders believed family violence to be a major problem or somewhat of a problem in their neighbourhood, compared to 38.5 per cent nationally.

In 2006–07, this declined to 30.9 per cent and 32.2 per cent respectively.
Report on Government Services 2008
Domestic and family violence imposes significant costs to the economy.

Costs include loss of productivity in the workplace due to injuries or attendance in court, social isolation, increased physical and mental ill health and housing burdens when women and children (primarily) have to leave their homes to escape violence.
The cost of domestic and family violence is $8.1 billion per annum to the Australian economy.

If extrapolated, this would equate to around $1.5 to $2 billion to the Queensland economy, based on a population share estimate.
The Cost of Domestic Violence to the Australian Economy. Access Economics, 2004.

Note: This estimate is conditional upon a number of assumptions, such as extrapolation of reporting rates to estimate true prevalence, and assumptions used to calculate the cost of pain, suffering and premature mortality.
Note: All figures provided are estimates only, as the studies from which they are drawn vary in their reliability, currency and applicability to Queensland. The purpose of these statistics is to provide a snapshot of some of the data currently available about the nature of domestic and family violence.

Current Queensland responses

The Queensland justice system provides both civil and criminal responses to domestic and family violence and plays a key role in holding perpetrators accountable and supporting and protecting victims. There are also a wide range of support services and other initiatives to target domestic and family violence, working with both victims and perpetrators.


The Queensland Government’s achievements to date

The Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 1989 (the Act) contains a broad definition of domestic and family violence and covers a range of groups.
The Act allows for the removal of the violent person from the home.
There are a range of funded service responses, including dvconnect which provides a 24-hour womensline and mensline.
The Queensland Police Service Domestic and Family Violence Unit is improving training, investigation and case management practices.
The Ministerial Advisory Council on Domestic and Family Violence provides advice to the Minister for Communities on issues relevant to domestic and family violence.
The Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month promotes the message that domestic and family violence is not acceptable, raises community awareness about the social and personal impacts of domestic and family violence and provides information about available services.
The Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research funded by the Department of Communities contributes to the prevention of domestic and family violence through research, evaluation, sector development and community engagement.
The Seniors Legal and Support Service pilot provides free assistance for seniors who are at risk of or experiencing elder abuse or financial exploitation.
Queensland Health provides domestic violence screening in ante-natal clinics.
The Queensland Ambulance Service is developing training resources for paramedics to assist responses to vulnerable people, including those experiencing domestic and family violence.

The Queensland Government currently invests in a range of initiatives for people affected by domestic and family violence, including:
housing support such as crisis accommodation
regional domestic violence services
community services such as support groups and counselling programs
counselling for children who experience domestic and family violence
legal support and advice and court support workers to assist people through the court process
family support and education programs
Indigenous Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Support Services
behaviour change programs
information sheets and a ‘Find a Service’ database for women and girls
information on tenancy rights in relation to domestic and family violence
some courts that have dedicated times to deal with domestic and family violence cases.

Many universal services not specific to domestic and family violence have a preventative effect and are also funded by the government, including:
maternal and child health initiatives
early childhood programs
crime prevention and health promotion initiatives.

The Queensland Government has introduced significant alcohol reforms which aim to reduce the unacceptably high level of alcohol-related harm in discrete Indigenous communities. It can be expected that these reforms will have some impact on family violence in those communities. To support these reforms, alcohol-related legislation has been amended, a service assessment has been undertaken in each community and service enhancements in relation to health, harm reduction and diversionary activities are currently being put in place.

Key challenges

To victims seeking information, support and protection, the Queensland domestic and family violence service system comprising the police service, the legal system, housing, health and counselling and support services can seem complex and disjointed. Where these services are not adequately linked, information that is vital for providing safety for victims can go unnoticed, and opportunities to intervene with perpetrators of domestic and family violence may be missed.






Gaps in our current responses

We recognise that there are opportunities to improve in the following areas:
Services for victims and perpetrators, including behaviour change programs, child counselling services and accommodation options.
Coordination across the government and non-government sectors.
Consistency across Queensland in responding to domestic and family violence, including the use of safety and risk assessments and the monitoring of perpetrators.
Opportunities for service providers across Queensland to share best practice and ideas to better protect victims of domestic and family violence.
Community involvement and education to promote the message that domestic and family violence will not be tolerated in Queensland.
Access to services for people with diverse needs, including people with a disability.
Open information exchange between government agencies and services, including addressing some privacy barriers.
Culturally appropriate domestic and family violence programs for Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse people.
Standard information and awareness training for mainstream services (such as allied health and community service professionals and school staff) about the identification and appropriate response to people experiencing domestic and family violence.
Research and data on related issues and incidence and prevalence of domestic and family violence in Queensland.

Innovative solutions are needed to tackle the causes and improve the responses to domestic and family violence in Queensland. Support and justice services need to find better ways to work together to support victims, provide for their safety, and hold perpetrators accountable.

What is missing from Queensland’s current system is an integrated approach to service delivery. In order to be effective, this would require ‘agreed protocols and codes of practice, joint service delivery, agencies reconstituting or realigning their core business to confront the challenges posed by a broadened conception of the problem’.[1]

An integrated approach would mean reorganising the way we do business so that people do not have to approach multiple services, telling their stories multiple times, and preventing people from falling ‘between the gaps’ to achieve a more efficient and effective response to safety.

Responses in other jurisdictions

New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and New Zealand have introduced multi-agency case coordination, including court supports, common risk assessment tools and assistance for victims of domestic violence to remain in their home where this is a safe option. The success of these approaches hinges on the collaboration of the agencies involved.[2]

The benefits of a coordinated approach have been realised through a decrease in reports to child protection in Victoria and reduced repeat offences in the Northern Territory. Similar impacts are reported in Tasmania.

While there are differences in each jurisdiction’s approach to minimising the harmful impacts of domestic and family violence, common features include:
central coordination of reforms
multi-agency case coordination models
a focus on legislative and justice system improvements
expansion of service delivery programs
prevention and community engagement activities
housing choices for victims, including programs to help them stay safely at home
a focus on the safety and wellbeing of children and young people affected by domestic and family violence.

Alongside strong policing protocols and integrated practices, jurisdictions such as New Zealand, Canada and the United States of America have established interdisciplinary committees to learn from homicide cases related to domestic and family violence and to advise on measures needed to improve service and systems responses to domestic and family violence. There is no single model for learning from domestic violence-related homicides, with mechanisms ranging from reviewing case information to the establishment of a formal board.[3]

Five areas for action

To address the causes of domestic and family violence and close the service system gaps, we have identified the core elements of an effective system and propose five areas for action across the continuum of responses:

1. Prevention (a focus on healthy relationships)
2. Early identification
3. Connected support services
4. Perpetrator accountability
5. System planning and coordination.

For the five areas for action, we have identified new initiatives that might be introduced and existing programs that may warrant expansion. Key proposals include a social marketing campaign, development of Case Coordination Teams and cross-government planning and coordination.

Some of the suggestions presented within this section may require significant development and further investment by government while others will improve the use of existing resources. The Queensland Government will make decisions about the phased roll-out of the strategy and funding of particular initiatives following consideration of the final strategy.

In addition, there are a number of potential opportunities to partner with the Commonwealth Government to introduce further initiatives and improvements, including the ‘A Place To Call Home’ initiative, the White paper on homelessness, development of the National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and Children and the review of domestic and family violence in the family law system.
1. Prevention (a focus on healthy relationships)

The problem of domestic and family violence is too significant to limit efforts to interventions in cases where violence has already occurred.[4] To address the causes and reduce the incidence, there needs to be a range of responses, including primary prevention and promotion. A stronger focus is needed on working in a variety of settings across age groups to deliver messages about healthy relationships and the identification of domestic and family violence. This includes development of social marketing campaigns and targeted education programs for children and young people to build self-esteem and empowerment.
Initiatives to prevent domestic and family violence
Possible options include introducing:
· a sustained Queensland Government social marketing campaign that could target a range of audiences, including young people, Indigenous people, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and carers of people with a disability to raise awareness and change behaviours. Campaign elements could include:
o television advertising and supporting media
o an integrated campaign website to provide information on domestic and family violence, how and where to get help and advice
o practical initiatives to drive action at grassroots level, such as:
- a community engagement grants program for local initiatives to support domestic and family violence prevention
- a community development program to build community capacity in domestic and family violence awareness and prevention
- media training for domestic and family violence service providers.

Options also include expanding:
· materials, programs and strategies in schools that promote the social and emotional development of students and that deliver proactive anti-violence messages
· community engagement models, including arts and cultural programs to promote healthy relationships in both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities
· collaboration with industry partners to develop and introduce workplace policies on respectful relationships and to raise awareness of the impacts of domestic and family violence.

2. Early identification

Consistent information and professional awareness is a crucial aspect in ensuring victims of domestic and family violence are identified and supported at the earliest opportunity. It is important for professionals to understand gender and power dynamics, especially when confronted with mutual claims of abuse, to prevent ongoing violence and enhance safety and wellbeing. The quality of response at the earliest disclosure of domestic and family violence may have an impact on a person’s future help-seeking behaviour and subsequent need for ongoing support. Early identification can also avoid the need for more costly and intrusive interventions for families if violence continues to escalate.
Initiatives to enable early identification and provide support to victims of domestic and family violence
Possible options include introducing:
· the domestic violence screening initiative applied in Queensland Health ante-natal clinics to other Queensland Health clinics and services where appropriate
· screening for domestic and family violence during the postnatal period as part of the roll-out of the universal postnatal contact service program
· improved models of support and assistance to better respond to victims who present at Queensland Health Emergency Departments
· a workforce skills development strategy for domestic and family violence services that could include:
o a professional development program, including capacity building for cultural competence, working with diverse communities and carers of people with a disability
o practice forums
o web-based practice tools
· standard information kits for a variety of allied professionals for recognising and responding to domestic and family violence, particularly in relation to children and young people, people with a disability and people from diverse communities.

3. Connected support services

Tasmania, the Northern Territory and Victoria have found that effective information sharing between agencies, and access to a variety of support services, can lead to the improved safety of victims and prevention of reoccurrence or escalation of violence. Culturally appropriate responses are required for people from Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse communities. There are also many complex issues that intersect with domestic and family violence, including child protection and family law and living and care arrangements for people with a disability. A lack of coordination and support can result in a justice response that is time-consuming, confusing and intimidating for victims.
Initiatives to better protect families earlier
Possible options include introducing:
· Case Coordination Teams that would be trialled, and subject to evaluation, phased implementation could occur across Queensland. These teams could be co-located and include the Queensland Police Service, Department of Child Safety and domestic violence specialists working together on a full-time basis, focusing on supporting victims (child and adult) and monitoring perpetrator behaviour. A regional coordinator position could be created to support establishment of these teams. The aim of these teams could be to:
o undertake risk assessments and coordinate safety and security assessments to inform case coordination
o broker referrals to support services, including child counselling, behaviour change programs and victim advocate positions, court support workers, case management and alternative accommodation where required
o undertake ongoing monitoring of outcomes for the family.
Initiatives to support children and young people affected by domestic and family violence
Possible options include introducing:
· practice guidelines for people who work with child victims of domestic and family violence
· regular practice forums for professionals providing services for children
· research and development of resources on best practice therapeutic interventions for children and young people exposed to domestic and family violence.

Options also include expanding counselling and support programs for children and young people affected by domestic and family violence.

Initiatives to support victims of domestic and family violence to stay in their own homes where this is safe
Possible options include introducing:
· a safety upgrades program to support the work of the proposed Case Coordination Teams that could include:
o the use of a standard risk assessment tool to determine whether staying in the home is a safe option for those affected
o upgrades to the security of the home.

Initiatives to support victims of domestic and family violence who need safe alternative accommodation
Possible options include introducing:
· support models to address the needs of victims in crisis and transitional accommodation to help them transition into long-term stable accommodation
· models to engage people subject to ‘ouster conditions’ (these allow the removal of the person using violence from the home, as part of a Domestic Violence Order) to access alternative accommodation
· a specialist assessment and referral model for women escaping violence who have particularly complex needs. This could include developing agreements between agencies to provide support based on a thorough safety and needs assessment.

Initiatives to improve the justice system response to domestic and family violence
Possible options include introducing court coordinators for domestic and family violence cases to support the work of the proposed Case Coordination Teams.

Options also include expanding specialised court supports to support the work of the proposed Case Coordination Teams that feature:
· court support workers for both the offender and the victim
· specific list days to hear domestic and family violence matters (criminal and civil).

This will deliver more timely access to quality evidence for the Magistrate resulting in improved decision making, and increase the availability of support and information for people affected by domestic and family violence.

Other initiatives
Possible options include introducing:
· a domestic and family violence rural and remote outreach model that could include support for victims and assistance to perpetrators to access support to change their behaviour
· a program for female prisoners who have been victims of domestic and family violence, with a focus on assistance to avoid returning to violent relationships upon their release
· a regional strategy for the Torres Strait that could include community education, community involvement and an outreach model to support victims, including travel assistance to access safe accommodation
· culturally relevant models for male behaviour change programs in Indigenous communities and ensuring they are delivered in the context of child and adult victim support.

Options also include expanding:
· access to interpreter services for funded domestic and family violence programs and other relevant funded services
· translation of information materials into the main language groups in Queensland (and including, for example, materials for Auslan and Braille).

4. Perpetrator accountability

Every state in Australia has criminal and civil justice mechanisms in place to respond to domestic and family violence. The aim of these mechanisms is to protect victims and to reinforce the message that domestic and family violence will not be tolerated and is punishable by law. A major difficulty in this area is often the availability of evidence to support claims of domestic and family violence. Where evidence exists, it needs to be used to prosecute incidents, including breaches of Domestic Violence Orders.

Behaviour change programs (also called ‘perpetrator programs’) have a significant role in preventing and responding to domestic and family violence. While the underlying philosophy of these programs can vary, the general purpose of these programs is to challenge abusive behaviour and to implement non-abusive alternatives to violence in the home. To be effective, such programs must include direct advocacy and support to maximise the safety and wellbeing of the partners and families of the perpetrator.

Initiatives to hold people who use domestic and family violence accountable for their behaviour
Possible options include introducing:
· development and distribution of investigation kits to strengthen police practice
· victim advocate positions attached to behaviour change programs so that the victim’s views and safety are taken into account
· behaviour change programs appropriate for Indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.

Options also include expanding community-based behaviour change programs to support the work of the proposed Case Coordination Teams.

Initiatives to strengthen justice responses to domestic and family violence
Possible options include introducing:
· a cross-agency examination of the links between the domestic and family violence system and the broader justice system to recommend improvements where necessary, for example:
o the use of ouster conditions and attendance at behaviour change programs as a condition of an order
o penalties for breaches of orders
o less traumatic ways for victims to present evidence.

5. System planning and coordination

Effective systems reforms in other jurisdictions have involved strong leadership and coordination to drive development, implementation and reporting of changes. This would require a formal structure that sets out mutual obligations, relationships and responsibilities agreed by all agencies.

Domestic and family violence is an issue that cuts across both state and federal legislative and program functions. It is therefore important to have a coordinated approach to identify intersections, undertake negotiations on the various issues and collaborate with the Commonwealth Government to achieve the best outcomes for people experiencing domestic and family violence.

Initiatives to give effect to system planning and coordination
Possible options include introducing:
· a new Queensland Government domestic and family violence coordination unit, that could:
o drive implementation across government agencies and sectors and coordinate monitoring and reporting on the strategy
o develop and implement a code of practice for Queensland Government agencies that could include an agreed definition of domestic and family violence, roles and responsibilities, grievance resolution processes, model protocols and policies, and provisions for responding to diverse groups
o identify opportunities to collaborate with the Commonwealth Government and negotiate on priority issues identified for Queensland
· improved research and data collection, including:
o a strategic research program on domestic and family violence in Queensland, in partnership with academics, to better understand the issues and how we can improve our responses (including prevention) to meet diverse needs
o improved collection of data on the incidence and prevalence of domestic and family violence in Queensland, to fill the gaps in our knowledge base
· an examination of models to learn from domestic and family violence related homicides, such as death review boards, which identify factors that could have improved service system responses and prevented the escalation of domestic and family violence incidents.

A review of the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 1989 will commence in early 2009, as agreed as part of the response to the Crime and Misconduct Commission’s 2005 report Policing domestic violence in Queensland: Meeting the challenges. Terms of reference will be informed by the outcomes of consultation on development of the strategy. The review will:
· ensure the Act’s effectiveness in protecting the victims of domestic and family violence
· ensure the legislation is in line with new policies arising from implementation of the strategy
· examine the appropriateness of justice interventions to hold perpetrators responsible for their behaviour
· determine whether any legislative refinements are necessary.
Response sheet

Name (optional)


Organisation


Region


Question
Response
1. Prevention (a focus on healthy relationships)
Do you think the proposed initiatives would effectively address the prevention of domestic and family violence?

Are there other, better ways to prevent domestic and family violence?

2. Early identification
Do you think the proposed initiatives would improve early identification and responses to domestic and family violence?

Are there other, better ways to improve early identification and responses to domestic and family violence?

3. Connected support services
Do you think the proposed initiatives would effectively close service system gaps?

Are there other, better ways to connect support services?

4. Perpetrator accountability
Do you think the proposed initiatives would effectively improve perpetrator accountability?

Are there other, better ways to improve perpetrator accountability?



5. System planning and coordination
Do you think the proposed initiatives would effectively improve system planning and coordination?

Are there other, better ways to improve system planning and coordination?

Additional questions

Has the consultation paper adequately covered the main issues to be addressed to effectively target domestic and family violence?

Are there any other issues or initiatives that you believe should be considered as a priority? If so, please list your top three priorities.



Are there any other issues or initiatives that you believe should be considered for groups that may have increased vulnerability?




Your comments
















[1] Developing an Integrated Response to Family Violence in Victoria: Issues and Directions (2004), Domestic Violence and Incest Resource Centre, Victoria.
2 Reforming the Family Violence System in Victoria (2005). State-wide Steering Committee to Reduce Family Violence.
3 David, N (2007) Exploring the Use of Domestic Violence Fatality Review Teams. Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse, NSW.
[4] World Health Organisation (2002), citied in Preventing violence before it occurs: A framework and background paper to guide the primary prevention of violence against women in Victoria, VicHealth, 2006