PRESENTED BY: Dr Rae Kaspiew, Zoe Rathus AM, Professor Heather Douglas, Raquel Aldunate

The complexity of law’s response to domestic and family violence is evidenced in the 2010 Australian, and New South Wales, Law Reform Commissions’ two-volume report Family violence — A National Legal Response. This voluminous work, totalling more than 2000 pages was instigated in 2009 by the Australian Government in its immediate response to Time for Action: The National Council’s Plan for Australia to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children. Observing the principle “no law, policy or practice should jeopardise the safety or wellbeing of women and their children”, the National Council had highlighted wide-spread concern about the interaction between the Family Law Act 1975 and state and territory domestic and family violence and child protection legislation and recommended the inquiry that ensued. These are not the only laws that impact on women and children affected by domestic and family violence and a second inquiry on the impact of all Commonwealth law on families affected by domestic and family violence was commissioned by the Australian Government and released in 2012.

In 2012, changes to the Family Law Act 1975 commenced on the 7th of June, and Queensland’s new Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 commenced on the 17th of September. The objectives of both sets of legislative reforms include prioritising safety for children exposed to domestic and family violence, and addressing unintended negative consequences of the law. These legislative reforms, and commonwealth law specifically relevant to immigrant women, are the focus of discussion in this seminar.