The previous law meant that DVOs issued in Queensland and elsewhere were not automatically recognised in other states or territories, meaning that the victim wasn’t protected if they decided to cross the border where their DVO was issued.
Under the new law, domestic violence victims will still be covered if they cross state or territory borders, resulting in much greater protection.
“Existing state and territory laws to protect victims and affected family members from domestic violence have not changed. Local police will still enforce the conditions regardless of where the DVO was issued.
“However prior to 25 November 2017, DVOs applied only in the state or territory where they were issued. Now they automatically apply everywhere.”
Twenty-six countries have ratified the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, including Germany, France and Italy. So why is the UK dragging its feet?
The Istanbul Convention is a comprehensive legal framework that sets out the minimum standards for countries to adhere to in combatting violence against women and girls.
It requires governments to:
prevent violence against women and girls, through the recognition that it’s a result of gender inequality;
provide support and protection services to victims;
effectively prosecute and rehabilitate perpetrators; and
co-operate with other states to eliminate violence globally.
While the Convention has high-level obligations such as “promoting changes in social and cultural patterns of behaviour that are based on the idea of the inferiority of women or on stereotyped roles for women and men”, it also requires states to provide practical things such as 24/7 helplines.
Australia scored an F for women’s and girls’ rights, partly because of the nation’s patchy record on reproductive rights. Abortion is still a crime in two states and the minister for women, Michaelia Cash, recently crossed the floor to vote in support of Cory Bernardi’s anti-abortion motion. The federal government also dropped domestic violence off the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) agenda.
Norton says as well as the repeated letter-writing, the case also involved multiple court applications and aborted legal mediations – all of which cost to launch and respond to.
It amounted to a form of financial abuse, she feels, and one that was able to happen in the current court system.
“As the family court system falls apart, all of the unethical, unscrupulous, bottom-feeding lawyers converge to extract money from the carnage,” she says.
Sarah Henderson, who sat on a parliamentary inquiry into the family violence and family law, told the ABC on Monday the inquiry found “many people were falling through the cracks”.
“The safety of children and child protection were key issues,” she said. “Some of the key recommendations were that family violence must be determined early in the proceedings. This ensures the right orders are made to protect children and too often that is not happening.”
Henderson said they recommended an initial assessment be made before any custody decisions and that shared equal parental responsibility should be abolished because it was being applied improperly and led to unsafe outcomes.
As we recently found interviewing Jenny (not her real name) regarding her experience of domestic violence, a lack of support and understanding from a superior or boss can put women at serious risk. In Jenny’s case, when she requested to work from a refuge while waiting for an intervention order, she was told she needed to be in the office. Jenny felt no choice but to quit her job for the sake of her own safety, leaving her unemployed for over a year.
The vast majority of respondents to our online survey (84%) said paid family/domestic violence leave is important in mitigating family violence in Australia.
This week, two new magistrates have been appointed to the Southport Domestic Violence Specialist Court – and while this is certainly a step in the right direction, more needs to be done.
Sadly, no corner of the state can claim to be free of the scourge of domestic violence, and that is why the specialist courts need to be further rolled out –Queensland Law Society has called for this in its 2017 State Election Call to Parties document – this is an issue on which our almost 12,000 members will not stay silent.
The need to fund these courts – and specialist duty lawyers at all domestic violence courts throughout the state – is crucial.
More than 5,500 applications were filed at the Southport specialist court – the first of its kind established in Queensland – during its first year, proving that these courts are an essential tool in the eradication of domestic violence.
WA has joined the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme, which will see all new restraining orders relating to domestic violence enforceable by Australian authorities in every state and territory jurisdiction.
From 25 November, the national scheme will remove the need to register these kinds of court orders across interstate boundaries. An application to the court can also bring orders made before this date within the national scheme.
While 20 awards were presented across many different sectors of the profession, Women’s Legal Service Queensland (WLSQ) CEO Angela Lynch (pictured) received the highest score out of every entrant and took home the Women in Law Excellence Award.
Under Ms Lynch’s leadership, WLSQ has also launched a financial literacy app called Penda for women escaping domestic violence.
“[Penda] provides really important legal and financial information for women, because we know that domestic violence is the biggest driver behind women’s homelessness in Australia, and also women’s poverty,” she said.
“Financial abuse is both a barrier to leaving a domestic violence relationship [and] a reason that women return.