Recently Farrar Gesini Dunn sponsored a Law week event hosted by the Women’s Legal Centre which focussed on Domestic Violence. The keynote speaker was 2015 Australian of the Year Rosie Batty, whose son was tragically killed by his father.
I have to admit, in my experience, this is true. If a client tells me about Domestic Violence, often my first question is “did you report it to police?” and if the answer is no, unfortunately it can make it that much harder to convince the Court and other agencies that the victim is at risk.
I was left thinking to myself, how do we do that? What changes do we call for?
Perhaps the solution is not by removing the rights of those accused, but by providing better education and training at all levels of society.
One of the points raised by Ms Batty was the need for proper Domestic Violence training for everyone who might be involved along the way including police, family services, Magistrates, Judges and Lawyers.
Having been a lawyer specialising in Family Law for the past 10 years, I have actually had Domestic Violence training, but admittedly, it was a number of years ago, so I will be undertaking it again. Maybe we should treat DV training like first aid training – having to do a refresher course on a regular basis? And not just for lawyers/judges, but for all levels of society?
- Early intervention programs for children/teenagers at risk
- Perpetrator programs
- Men’s referral services that have ongoing contact with those suspected of or at risk of committing family violence
- Courts having the power to bail and remand perpetrators to treatment and having an ongoing review process
- Accelerated referral programs for treatment of first time offenders
- Court protocols for determining “high risk” perpetrators
- Protocols for swift and certain sanctions for those breaching Orders
These measures, and others recommended by the report and by other lobby groups, give some good practical steps to try and attack the problem of family violence at every level of society. So why aren’t they being implemented? The short answer: money.
According to Destroy the Joint, the tally for women killed in 2015 as a result of family violence has just increased to 39. In 2014 the number was 84. Isn’t this reason enough to dedicate Government funding to this important issue?
By Kasey Fox
Kasey is a Director of Family Law at Farrar Gesini Dunn and is based in their Canberra office. Learn more about Kasey.