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20      Parliament— Inquiry into Australia’s Family Law System

Senator Waters, also on behalf of Senator Polley, amended general business notice of motion no. 266 by leave and, pursuant to notice of motion not objected to as a formal motion, moved—That the Senate—

(a)              notes that:

(i)                    the parliamentary inquiry into Australia’s Family Law System is going ahead,

(ii)                  specialist services across the women’s safety sector have been contacted by survivors who are concerned that the inquiry is going ahead, and concerned they will not be believed when they speak of family violence,

(iii)                concerns continue to be raised by the women’s safety sector, including from the Australian Women Against Violence Alliance, that:

(A)                 many victims and survivors of family violence will not feel safe to give evidence, and

(B)                 those victims, survivors and other persons who do wish to give evidence should be supported to do so, having regard to mental and physical health risks,

(iv)                specialist domestic and family violence services expect an increase in demand while the inquiry remains under way, and

(v)                  the Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Family Law System has been informed about the essential safeguards that are needed to mitigate these concerns, but no commitments have yet been made; and

(b)              calls on the Federal Government to take action to ensure that witnesses who choose to give evidence to the inquiry can do so safely, and that evidence given to the inquiry is treated respectfully, by:

(i)                    putting in place the essential safeguards being called for by women’s safety experts to protect witnesses during the conduct of the inquiry, including rules about giving evidence in confidence or remotely, ensuring safe access to hearing venues, and media protocols,

(ii)                  not holding hearings until such safeguards and support for survivors of violence are implemented, and

(iii)                ensuring adequate specialist and domestic and family violence services are available to respond to additional demand resulting from the inquiry.

Question put and passed.