The Family Law Act 1975 defines family violence as “violent, threatening or other behaviour by a person that coerces or controls a member of the persons family, or causes the family member to be fearful”.
The definition of abuse in relation to a child includes "causing the child to suffer serious psychological harm, including (but not limited to) when that harm is caused by the child being subjected to, or exposed to, family violence".
Acts that may constitute family violence included, but are not limited to:
- An assault,
- Sexual assault or other sexually abusive behaviour,
- Repetitive derogatory taunts,
- Intentionally damaging or destroying property,
- Intentionally causing death or injury to an animal,
- Unreasonably denying the family member the financial autonomy that she or he otherwise would have had,
- Unreasonably withholding financial support needed to meet the reasonable living expenses of the family member,
- Preventing the family member from making or keeping connections with his or her family, friends or culture, and
- Unlawfully depriving the family member, or any member of the family member’s family, of his or her liberty.
While the definition includes examples of particular behaviour, it is not an exhaustive list. Even though conduct may not be specifically mentioned in the FLA definition, the courts (through section 60CC(3)(m)) may still take such conduct into account.
But they never touched me
Physical violence is not required to meet the definition of family violence.
In our experience, any person can be a victim of family violence regardless of gender, affluence, or religious denomination.
Why the Family Court?
The Court sees the role of protecting family members and in particular, children, from the effects of family violence as a central tenant to all determinations in regard to what may be in the best interests of the children.
The Family Law Act contains a range of provisions designed to protect the parties and children from family violence.
The Family Court has a specific committee and set of 'Best Practice Principles' to deal with family violence, you can read those by clicking on the blue link to the right.
If you are a victim of family violence or have a family law matter in which you needed advice, please telephone our office to make an appointment with Hamish Williams our family law solicitor.
We can also direct you to various social support programs which are designed to help victims of family violence including but not limited to counselling services, emergency housing services and other programs which will assist victims of family violence to get back on their feet.
If you want more information about family or domestic violence then click on the link to the right.