Co-authored by: Isabel Strahan
KEY TAKE OUTS:
- The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia has recently updated its ‘Family Violence Plan’ and ‘Family Violence Best Practice Principles’.
- The Court intends to provide measures and uniformed procedures in the hopes of improving each party’s protection from violence, safety at court and communication when addressing family violence.
The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia has recently published an updated Family Violence Plan and Family Violence Best Practice Principles.
The new documents set out the Court’s commitment to identifying and managing family violence and provides guidance that is to be used by the Court, legal practitioners, and other parties on how to manage family violence.
What is family violence?
What constitutes family violence is stipulated in Section 4AB of the Family Law Act 1975. This section describes family violence as; ‘violent, threatening, or other behaviour by a person that coerces or controls a member of the person’s family or causes the family member to be fearful’.
Common examples of family violence may include the following:
- Repeated derogatory taunts,
- Intentionally damaging or destroying property,
- Intentionally causing death or injury to an animal,
- Preventing the family member from making or keeping connections with their family, friends, or culture, and
- Unreasonably withholding financial support.
The Court recognises the complexity of family violence and acknowledges that it may influence a person’s willingness to initiate legal proceedings, attend court, negotiate or their ability to participate in the justice system. Therefore, the FCFCOA have implemented a ‘Family Violence Plan’ and ‘Family Violence Best Practice Principles’ to help assist.
The Family Violence Plan
The Court’s Family Violence Plan intends to respond to allegations of family violence, address these allegations before the Court and enhance the safety of all parties to the proceedings.
The Plan spans across three target areas:
- Protection from violence
- Safety at court, and
- Information and communication.
The Court aims to achieve its goal through having regular reviews of the ‘Family Violence Best Practice Principles’, reviewing the Court’s operational and administrative processes in relation to case management of matter and have ongoing training for decision-makers to improve the communication of the Court.
The Family Violence Best Practice Principles
The FCFCOA Family Violence Best Practice Principles sets out seven overarching ideas:
- Family violence is not acceptable.
- Safety is a risk and a priority for all Court users.
- Parenting matters involving family violence will be identified early and appropriately managed.
- All professionals working in and appearing before the Courts are expected to undertake ongoing training and professional development to ensure that they have a sound and contemporary knowledge of family violence.
- Litigants must have access to specialist and support services, and clear information to assist their full participation in all court processes.
- The Courts must have access to information relevant to safety and risks.
- All litigants have an equal right to access justice, and those experiencing family violence are not to be disadvantaged in the court system.
Navigating the intricacies of family law can be daunting, especially when family violence is involved. The Coutts Family Law team stands ready to provide not just legal expertise but also a sanctuary of understanding and support. If you or a loved one is grappling with family violence or legal complexities, we’re here to help.
Reach Out for Assistance:
If you need help and are suffering from family violence, the below services are available to you:
Lifeline (13 11 14):
A crisis support service offering immediate assistance and counselling for people who are experiencing emotional distress or a personal crisis. They can provide support for issues such as suicidal thoughts, mental health problems, grief, and relationship breakdowns.
Mensline (1300 789 978):
Designed specifically for men, this helpline provides support for emotional health and relationship issues. They can assist men dealing with anger, relationship breakdowns, parenting challenges, and mental health concerns.
Kids Helpline (1800 551 800):
A counselling service specifically for young people aged between 5 and 25. The service covers a wide range of issues, including problems at home or school, friendship challenges, mental health issues, and questions about identity.
Beyond Blue (1300 224 636):
Offers support for individuals dealing with depression, anxiety, and other related mental health disorders. They provide resources, counselling, and advice to help people at any stage of their mental health journey.
1800-RESPECT (1800 737 732):
The national helpline for sexual assault, domestic, and family violence. They offer counselling, information, and referrals to local services that can provide further assistance. It’s a service suitable for those who’ve experienced violence, their friends and family, as well as frontline workers seeking guidance.
Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength. Your well-being and safety come first.
ABOUT LARA MENON:
Lara Menon joined the Coutts Lawyers & Conveyancers team in August 2018, working within our Criminal and Family Law teams. Her swift advancement from Paralegal, Law Graduate, Lawyer, Senior Lawyer and most recently, Senior Associate in February 2022, is a testament to her astute legal skills and commitment to client service excellence.
Earlier in 2019, Lara was selected by the NSW Law Society to undertake an internship with the NSW Coroner’s Court, working as a Judge’s Associate for the Deputy State Coroner.
For further information please don’t hesitate to contact:
ABOUT ISABEL STRAHAN:
Isabel joined the Coutts team in January 2022, as a Paralegal working within our Family & Criminal teams. She is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts, Majoring in International Relations and Minoring in Cultural Studies at the University of Wollongong. It is her dedication and hardworking nature that will see her go far within Coutts.
For further information please don’t hesitate to contact:
Contact Coutts today.
This blog is merely general and non-specific information on the subject matter and is not and should not be considered or relied on as legal advice. Coutts is not responsible for any cost, expense, loss or liability whatsoever to this blog, including all or any reliance on this blog or use or application of this blog by you.