Creating change

We challenge laws and systems to promote the rights of women.

 

We act on what our clients tell us and work with other legal assistance and family violence support services to create a fairer and more just legal system for women.

 

Justice for us means that everyone in our community has safety and the support they need to thrive.

We aim to:


    • Eliminate violence against women and their children
    • Promote women’s health, housing and economic security after violence and relationship breakdown
    • Improve pathways to accessing justice regardless of a woman’s culture, language, religion, ability, age or locality
 

Improving the Family Law system

We want Australia’s Family Law System to make sure women and children are safe, to treat people fairly, to uphold cultural rights, and to recognise that all families are different.

 

We work with women’s legal services from across the country to ensure politicians, police, courts, lawyers and government agencies, like Child Protection and Centrelink, believe women when they say, “we know what we need to find safety for us and our children”.

We are a member of Women’s Legal Services Australia and contribute our expertise and practice-based knowledge in its campaign to improve Family Law legislation for women and children. See Women’s Legal Services Australia’s submission here.

A better migration system

We’re calling on the Australian Government to give all women on temporary visas who experience domestic, family and sexual violence, and their children, access to protections, services and justice. ​​​​​​​Improving Home Affairs’ staff knowledge of family violence, including how systems like our migration system can be used to exert control, is urgently needed.

We are part of the National Advocacy Group on Women on Temporary Visas Experiencing Violence. The group is advocating to the Federal Government to implement its 4-point plan to improve our migration system.

Stronger Together

Alongside Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre, we spoke with 30 mothers seeking reunification with their children after experiencing family violence. The study shows how protective responses hold mothers responsible for child safety and wellbeing, while abusive fathers remain largely invisible.

Coercive control

We oppose the criminalisation of coercive control in Victoria as it is unlikely to protect women at risk of violence. Civil law protections and effective family violence services are far more effective at ensuring the safety of victim-survivors.

 

Creating a new criminal offence gives perpetrators of family violence a new tool to continue their abuse, increasing the risk of victim-survivors, particularly Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, of being misidentified and sent to prison.

Related links

Policy brief: Justice system response to coercive control

 

Women’s Legal Services Australia submission: Submission on the draft National Principles to address Coercive Control

Reducing the financial impact of family violence

We created and led the Economic Abuse Reference Group – a network of services that work with victim survivors. Together, community lawyers, financial counsellors and family violence workers (representing more than 50 organisations) work to improve protections and support for family violence victim-survivors.

 

Most victim-survivors of family violence have experienced financial abuse, which can stop them leaving an abusive relationship or rebuilding their lives.

Police misidentification of the ‘primary aggressor’ in family violence incidents

Mis-identification happens when police are called to a family violence matter and identify the person experiencing family violence as the one causing harm, instead of the real aggressor. This happens frequently and especially when police are called to incidents that involve Aboriginal women and women of colour.

 

Mis-identification leads to serious consequences for the person experiencing violence. As well as being blamed for the abuse they suffer, they can have their children removed, lose their home or income support, lose pay because they have to take time off work to go to court, or they can even be sent to jail.

 

We are working to end mis-identification so victim-survivors can find safety and receive the support they need.

Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence

We advised Victoria’s Royal Commission into Family Violence on how to improve the family violence legal system, including addressing economic recovery of family violence victim-survivors.

 

Related links

Royal Commission into Family Violence Submission: Improving the family violence legal system

 

Royal Commission into Family Violence Submission: Economic abuse and economic recovery of family violence victims

 

Royal Commission into Family Violence Submission: Multi-jurisdictional issues

Small Claims, Large Battles

We launched our Small Claims, Large Battles project to give women recovering from family violence a better chance of accessing their fair share of superannuation after separation. The project secured life-changing improvements for women, including laws to help stop family violence perpetrators hiding their super assets and support for women on no or low income to access legally assisted dispute resolution for small property claims. 

Stepping Stones: removing legal barriers for economic equality after family violence

Our groundbreaking Stepping Stones research report significantly changed the practice of courts, the finance industry and the financial counselling sector in its approach to economic abuse. 

 

We revealed how family violence abusers utilise the legal and credit systems to continue to victimise and control their former partners. Joint bills and accounts were found to be a major tool of control by perpetrators, with the report finding women are commonly being chased by telecommunications and utility companies for the entire amount of a joint bill or debt after family violence.

 

The Royal Commission into Family Violence final report cited the Stepping Stones report extensively and adopted 15 of the project’s recommendations for reform.

 

Read the Stepping Stones Report

Campaigns we support

Poccum’s Law

 

We support the family of Veronica Marie Nelson, a strong Gunditjmara, Dja Dja Wurrung, Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta woman, who passed away in custody, in calling on the Andrews Government to implement urgent changes to the state’s bail laws.

 

Learn more about Poccum’s Law here.

Police Ombudsman Now

 

We support the call for an independent Police Ombudsman. Making a complaint against police should be safe, accessible and fair.

 

Learn more about the Police Ombudsman Now campaign here.

Trans Justice Statement of Solidarity

 

Trans people deserve the freedom to be ourselves, to feel safe in our communities, and to be able to build a good life, free from hatred, violence and discrimination.

 

That’s why we have signed the Statement of Solidarity with the Trans Community.

 

Read the Statement of Solidarity with the Trans Community.

Our office is closed

We will reopen at 9am Monday 8 January 2024.

 

You can contact Victoria Legal Aid for legal support or Safe Steps for family violence support. 

 

Our duty lawyer services will continue during this period. Please contact your local court if you need legal help at court.

 

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We are currently not accepting online enquires

If you need urgent assistance, please call us on 1800 133 302.

 

You can also contact Victoria Legal Aid for legal support or Safe Steps for family violence support. 

 

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