With the Royal Commission into Family Violence in the throes of hearing submissions from various stakeholders, one is hard pressed to view a news report which does not touch on the issue of family violence. For many, the Royal Commission is long overdue but it is nevertheless a forum through which victims of family violence and those who work in areas relevant to family violence can have a voice and be heard.
A number of issues which have been raised through the submissions include the role that professionals such as doctors, lawyers and employers have in reporting concerns of family violence as well as what can be achieved by way of early intervention and the eventual elimination of family violence.
Further measures which have been addressed by the Royal Commission include the establishment of a specialist Family Violence Court with the consistency of the same Magistrate hearing matters with ongoing concerns. The specialist Court would also assist in making perpetrators more accountable for their actions and avoid the requirement of applicants having to repeat their version of events to numerous Judges on a number of separate Court events.
Similarly, submissions have been made with respect to the implementation of ‘exclusion orders’ which see the perpetrators of family violence being removed from their home as opposed to the victim and the children, as is often the case. The use of ‘exclusion orders’ would also alleviate the pressures placed on women’s refuges and emergency support networks.
More recently, the Royal Commission has heard from the families of domestic violence victims including the 2015 Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty who is campaigning for attitudinal change across all spheres of society and government to help educate people on family violence and address the underlying causes.
While highlighting the impact of family violence on our community, it is hoped that the Royal Commission will also serve to encourage the implementation of the recommendations and policies proposed in the numerous submissions and bring family violence out of the shadows.