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     8   Victims of family violence and court proceedings

The order of the day having been read for the resumption of the debate on the motion of Mr Perrett—That this House:

(1)        notes that Women’s Legal Services Australia and 90 other organisations concerned with family violence wrote to all political leaders in May 2016 calling on them to put safety first in family law;

(2)        recognises that:

(a)        unrepresented litigants have been an increasing feature of the Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia for many years;

(b)        due to the cuts made to Legal Aid funding by the Government, the number of unrepresented litigants continues to increase;

(c)        unrepresented litigants are entitled to cross-examine the other party to test their evidence in a trial; and

(d)        where a victim of family violence is subjected to direct cross-examination by their abuser, the:

                                                   (i)       victim can be severely traumatised;

                                                 (ii)       quality of the evidence given to the court can be compromised;

                                               (iii)       perpetrator can use the court process to further abuse the victim; and

                                               (iv)       victim may discontinue the proceedings because they are unable to endure the cross-examination;

(3)        further notes that the Opposition took to the election a commitment to protect victims and survivors from being personally cross-examined by alleged perpetrators; and

(4)        calls on the Government to immediately act to protect victims of family violence by introducing amendments to the Family Law Act 1975 to ensure that victims of family violence are not directly cross-examined by their abusers during court proceedings.

Debate resumed.

The time allotted for the debate having expired, the debate was interrupted, and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for the next sitting.