Tell the Gov: Stop abusers cross-examining their victims in Family Court
Right now there is no law preventing abusive ex-partners from cross-examining their victims in Family Court.
After extensive community campaigning from Fair Agenda and others the ALP are now committed to change this. But this kind of protection shouldn't depend on who is in Government. That's why it's critical we keep building pressure on the Government to make the change.
Can you take 2 minutes to send the Attorney-General and Minister for Women an email urging them to stop allowing perpetrators to re-traumatise survivors in the Family Court?
Email Attorney-General Brandis at email@example.com and Minister for Women Michaelia Cash at firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to know what you should say?
Here are our tips for putting together a quick and effective email (because we know personal emails from have more impact than copying and pasting the same message):
- Introduce yourself - Explain where you live and why you care about this issue. If you're a Coalition voter or member, or live in either of their states, be sure to mention that.
- Explain the reason you're emailing - Let them know that you're extremely concerned that survivors of violence are still forced to endure direct cross examination at the hands of their abuser. A practice survivor advocate Eleanor described as "a major obstacle in my recovery from the trauma of his abuse - an invasive, disempowering and cruel process".
Mention that you're aware this issue affects both of their portfolios, and so you're want to urge them both to make changing this horrifying practice a priority. We encourage you to urge Minister Cash to use her role as Minister for Women to act as a champion on this issue and urge her Cabinet colleagues to support desperately needed change on this issue.
- Thank them for their time, and request a response to your email.
A reminder to send your email to both Attorney-General George Brandis at email@example.com, and Minister for Women Michaelia Cash at firstname.lastname@example.org
Once you've sent your email, please forward us a copy at email@example.com so we can keep track of all the powerful messages being sent.
Want to know more? (click to view)
This call for reform is part of the Women's Legal Services Australia 'Safety First' platform - backed by community lawyers who support survivors of violence in the courts.
It's also been backed by the Government's economic advisors at the The Productivity Commission since December 2014, when they recommended the federal government amend the law to address this problem.
Lawyers working with survivors of violence are concerned the current system is leading to poor outcomes for vulnerable children; because many survivors feel pressured to settle before their family law trial because they're afraid their perpetrator will continue the abuse in the court through cross-examination.
Survivor advocate Eleanor said of her experience:
"Even though he was criminally charged for what he had done to me, I was sick to my stomach when I discovered that [my ex-husband] would be able to cross-examine me during family law proceedings.
The day I took the stand and was forced to answer the questions of a man who had sexually assaulted and abused me for over a decade was a massive slap in the face. And having to endure that horrific experience was a major obstacle in my recovery from the trauma of his abuse – an invasive, disempowering and cruel process I was forced to endure by our courts.
Family Court decisions can lead to 'diabolic' situations, says Rosie Batty, Sydney Morning Herald, 15 June 2016.
Call to stop abusers cross-examining their victims in the Family Court, SMH, 27 October 2015.
*If you or anyone you know is experiencing family violence or sexual abuse you can call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732). If you are in danger right now, call 000.*