Family Law Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2018

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Mr HAWKE (Mitchell—Assistant Minister for Home Affairs) (13:03): I thank members for their contributions to the debate on this bill. The government is pleased to support the passage of the Family Law Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2018. The bill will enhance the capacity of the justice system to provide effective outcomes for vulnerable Australians who experience family violence. It will implement a number of expert recommendations, including those from the Family Law Council, Victoria's 2016 Royal Commission into Family Violence, the Australian and New South Wales Law Commissions' report and the coronial inquest into the death of Luke Geoffrey Batty.

The bill will facilitate the resolution of family law matters by state and territory courts in appropriate cases. This will reduce the need for vulnerable families to interact with multiple courts across family law, family violence and child protection systems to address their legal needs.

This bill will increase protections for victims of family violence by reducing the potential for inconsistent family violence orders and family law parenting orders. It will facilitate the expeditious resolution of family law matters and enable courts to better protect victims from perpetrators who attempt to use the family law system as a tool of continued victimisation. It will do this by strengthening and codifying the summary dismissal powers of the family law courts to ensure this provision is operating as intended and providing better protection to victims. The government will review this provision after two years.

The bill will also enforce the principle of equality within relationships by removing a redundant provision in the Family Law Act that suggests that conjugal rights and an obligation to perform marital services still exist in Australia.

The government has delayed introducing criminal offences for breaches of family law injunctions made for personal protection. This government takes the safety of family violence victims seriously and remains committed to the policy intention of the proposed offences. The government will continue to work on implementation issues with policing agencies and other stakeholders, and will further consider the proposed offences once the Australian Law Reform Commission has completed its comprehensive review of the family law system. The measures in the bill will deliver immediate benefits for families and courts dealing with complex issues involving family violence across multiple jurisdictions.

I thank members for their contributions and commend this bill to the House.