Rosie Batty says the family law system is exposing children to harm, forced into contact with abusive parents by a system that doesn’t understand domestic violence.
The anti-domestic violence campaigner said children were being traumatised by never-ending hearings as disputes between parents rolled on for years in an overwhelmed court system.
She said she’d received hundreds of letters from desperate parents chained to their abusers by court orders since she’d taken up the anti-domestic violence campaign after the death of son Luke, 11, at the hands of his father in 2014.
“They just feel they are failing their children and there’s nothing they can do. It’s lonely, it’s dangerous (and) it’s soul-destroying.”
Ms Batty is urging the federal government to adopt a new five-step plan for reform unveiled on Wednesday by the Women’s Legal Services Australia. It calls for courts to strengthen the domestic violence response, improve legal help and ensure law professionals have a real understanding of family violence.
WLSA director Helen Matthews said the Family Court wasn’t equipped with the specialist knowledge to handle family violence.
“They’re dealing with family violence all the time, but their responses are not always focused on safety,” she said. “The system isn’t designed to examine family violence issues early in the process.”