Women’s Legal Services Queensland (WLSQ) has identified three urgent priorities that should form the basis of an emergency parliamentary response to improve safety in the family law system, warning that violence and murders in the system will only increase as there is yet to be any commensurate response.
“The scale of the crisis and the brutality of the murder of Hannah and her children requires an emergency response to improve safety,” WLSQ CEO Angela Lynch said. “Unless we see an emergency response the situation will only get worse. This is not something that can fix itself nor something that can wait for yet another inquiry.
WLSQ says there are three immediate priorities that should form the basis of the urgent response:
1. Legislation to remove the presumption of equal shared parental responsibility and create emphasis on safety in the Family Law Act
2. Establishment of a family law system domestic violence death review process to understand and prevent family law deaths
3. Restore and build funding to specialist legal services with the aim that calls for help don’t go unanswered. WLSQ has written to the Prime Minister, Opposition Leader and Greens Leader, asking for a non-partisan approach and immediate action.
The government has already announced the establishment of high-risk domestic violence court pathway pilot picking up on a previous recommendation of WLSQ. These should be fast-tracked and fully funded, including the funding of specialist domestic violence legal services such as Women’s Legal Services to provide specialist victim legal representation.
“We need more than standard coronial reviews and more words. We need leadership and action from the parliament to push legislative reform. The family law system is dangerous for parents and their children escaping violence and that is the federal parliament’s job to fix.”