The incidents of family violence have sufficiently concerned the Australian Government that they have stepped up measures in responding to it. One significant step taken is through the amendment of the Family Law Act 1975. The amendatory Act.
Family Law Legislation (Family Violence and Other Measures) Amendment Act 2011 aimed to improve the system’s response to family violence. Aside from legislation, trainings are offered to better educate family law practitioners in responding to family violence. Both the legislation and the trainings provided are also part of a widespread information dissemination campaign about family violence.
AVERT Family Violence Training Package is a training that aims to train family law professionals in handling family violence cases. The recipients who would greatly benefit from the training are the following family law practitioners:
The first part of the training would be to define and identify family violence. Being in the practice of law, the trainees are expected to be well versed with what the law considers as family violence. However, the law only provides a definition which is in theory. Identifying the signs of family violence in real life would prove to be the more difficult task since family life is essentially a private affair. People are entitled to the privacy in their homes and families.
Oftentimes, family law practitioners will only come to know of a family violence case if the victim comes forward. Thus, an important component of the AVERT Family Violence Training Package is to train family law practitioners on how to identify signs of family violence which are not always immediately apparent to an outsider.
Family law practitioners would also be taught to understand the complexities of family violence. Being abused is not just simply black and white. It involves a myriad of emotions that an outsider cannot probably even begin to fathom. Family law practitioners will be trained to recognize the emotions that a victim would be naturally going through. They will also be taught the behavioural tactics that will be most likely employed by a perpetrator.
Most important of all, family law practitioners will be trained on how to respond to family violence. There are legal remedies available for victims of family violence as well as penalties that may be imposed upon the perpetrator. The justice system, through legislation, has been given more power to act on family violence cases.
Police officers can seek Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs) for women and children who are victims of family violence. Courts can issue injunctions for the protection of children and those who have parental responsibility over them. Contravention orders can be sought from the courts whenever a person violates an AVO. Family law practitioners will be taught of the legal remedies that are available so that they can properly advice the victim on what can be legally done to put a stop to the family violence. The familiarization with legal remedies for victims of family violence is part of the training on how to respond to family violence cases.
The AVERT Family Violence Training Package will also emphasize to the family law practitioners the importance of creating a safe and secure environment for the victims of family violence. Safety programs will be discussed as well as therapy and counselling. Family violence does not always come from physical injuries but it also consists of emotional, psychological and mental abuse. It would surely not be easy for a victim to get over the violence which is why it is part of the training of family law practitioners to create programs that would help a victim to recover.
The AVERT Family Violence Training Package is not one-sided, that is, it does not function for the victim purely. Rather, it will seek to achieve the best outcome for the family, taking into consideration also the danger and the risk. This is why family law practitioners will also receive training on dispute resolution.
The occurrence of family violence does not always necessitate the complete breakdown or break-up of family ties. It is acknowledged that in some cases families continue to live together in one house but with protection in place. Being able to communicate with both parties, the victim and the perpetrator, is important so that family law practitioner will know the safety measures that are needed to be put in place.