Changes to family law from 7 June 2012
On 7 June 2012 changes to the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) took effect. These changes are intended to provide better protection in family law cases where there is family violence and abuse.
Definition of family violence etc.
(1) For the purposes of this Act, family violence means violent, threatening or other behaviour by a person that coerces or controls a member of the person’s family (the family member), or causes the family member to be fearful.
(2) Examples of behaviour that may constitute family violence include (but are not limited to):
(a) an assault; or
(b) a sexual assault or other sexually abusive behaviour; or
(c) stalking; or
(d) repeated derogatory taunts; or
(e) intentionally damaging or destroying property; or
(f) intentionally causing death or injury to an animal; or
(g) unreasonably denying the family member the financial autonomy that he or she would otherwise have had; or
(h) unreasonably withholding financial support needed to meet the reasonable living expenses of the family member, or his or her child, at a time when the family member is entirely or predominantly dependent on the person for financial support; or
(i) preventing the family member from making or keeping connections with his or her family, friends or culture; or
(j) unlawfully depriving the family member, or any member of the family member’s family, of his or her liberty.
(3) For the purposes of this Act, a child is exposed to family violence if the child sees or hears family violence or otherwise experiences the effects of family violence.
(4) Examples of situations that may constitute a child being exposed to family violence include (but are not limited to) the child:
(a) overhearing threats of death or personal injury by a member of the child’s family towards another member of the child’s family; or
(b) seeing or hearing an assault of a member of the child’s family by another member of the child’s family; or
(c) comforting or providing assistance to a member of the child’s family who has been assaulted by another member of the child’s family; or
(d) cleaning up a site after a member of the child’s family has intentionally damaged property of another member of the child’s family; or
(e) being present when police or ambulance officers attend an incident involving the assault of a member of the child’s family by another member of the child’s family.
Do you have fears for your safety when attending court?
You have a right to feel safe at court. The Court places a priority on safety and can assist with the safety of you and your family when attending court.
If you have any concerns for your safety it is important you let the Court know prior to attending a court event, including conferences or hearings.
You can inform the Court by calling 1300 352 000
You can discuss your concerns with a Client Service Officer. The Officer will ask you a few questions and decide what arrangements are needed to enable you to participate in court events safely.
You should call at least two days before your court event so arrangements can be made for your safety.
If there is an existing family violence order, you must tell the Courts before your first court event.
For more information about how the Courts deal with family violence go to the Family Law Courts website at:
If you have concerns about your safety outside the Court or any questions about family violence, the Court recommends you contact one of the following the police, your lawyer or one of the agencies listed below.
The Court encourages you to also contact the services listed for further information and advice, including options for remaining safe outside the Court.
Some aspects of family violence may be a criminal offence and you may need to report these to police or child protection authorities.
Domestic Violence Crisis Service (24 Hours) 1300 782 200
Domestic Violence Helpline (24 Hours) 1800 800 098
Mensline 1300 789 978
National Domestic Violence Counselling Service 1800 200 526