About 70 to 80 per cent of people observed intervention orders made against them and about 10 per cent “push the boundaries”, keeping their ex-partner “in constant fear” without doing anything overt enough to attract a breach.
Ten per cent have the attitude “no piece of paper’s going to tell me what to do with my property (the ex partner and children)”.
Jackie Watt, CEO of No to Violence, said while it was important to wait for the findings of inquests into the deaths of Olga Edwards and her children, the fact Ms Edwards was unaware John Edwards, though legally barred from seeing the children, was reportedly able to live close to them without the knowledge of Ms Edwards was “awful”.
“I believe she didn’t know he was there; if the Famliy Court think he’s so dangerous he should not have contact with his children, what other protections should have been put in place to make sure she and the kids are safe? He was an abuser of some duration.”
“A big question is about how he was able to access firearms,” said Ms Watt. “Why was there not a red flag, a burning flag.”
Ms Watt questioned why, given courts “do not lightly stop parents from seeing kids, they tend to err on the side of giving them access”, there were not adequate measures in place to protect the family. “Who was meant to share that (risk) with who, to keep them safe: that has to be the biggest question.”
“Often there are child protection people saying saying ‘you must separate, and keep these children safe because this man’s too dangerous’, and when they do separate the first thing that gets arranged is unsupervised child contact.”
She said women are seen as failing to protect children if they remain with a violent partner, and “alienating” if they attempt to cease contact. “That is a conundrum that hasn’t been sorted out.”
[category Aust, domestic violence]