Monday, May 16, 2011

Not the Family Courts Fault - No, that cannot be...



Any domestic violence expert or advocate would only need to take a two second glance at the latest articles on Kyla Rogers, to know that there must have been a family violence history leading up to this tragedy. Most murder suicides are. In light of sentencing Arthur Freeman, they thought they were able to close the book on family court triggered violence breaking out into the public and causing outrage - but here we are again. Its another one. I use to try and keep track of the murder suicides in US after family court, but there were too many. Anyone who attempts to will begin to pick up on the pattern. There is the traits of a family violence perpetrator; the control, the sense of propriety eg, "If I can't have them, no one will".

Its another growing story in the public realm that I am sure if Chief Justice Diana Bryant was to grace us with her opinion, we are most likely going to hear some sort of creative reason why this particular event was "rare" or "unforeseeable". Of course with all of the suppression with the courts room to pick and choose which stories they will allow the public to see, it may appear rare. Not to mention all of the trouble in disconnecting statistics derived from family violence homicide cases that were exacerbated by court orders. It is why during the Howard era, the only views that were heard on family courts were right wing male supremacists. Chief Justice Diana Bryant was elected during that era and whilst such figures are meant to be apolitical, she has been an outspoken supporter of these groups and said much that has trivialized and degraded the experience of family violence survivors. Why it might be unforeseeable for the Family Court is working from the mindset that all victims are liars and therefore should be punished if there is not enough evidence. The evidence that has been traditionally considered "enough" is often more than they require to convict someone for homicide in Australia. The stringent rules around what can be presented in court to "save paper", is so restricted that it is not until the final hearing that the survivor is allowed to speak. The affidavits are edited heavily with the advice of lawyers that are instructed to act impartial(which is often against) the survivor leaving most complaints of violence out. If it was a case funded by legal aid, then the survivor is not allowed to raise concerns at all. The laws also require survivors to provide their location at all times, leaving the victim wide open to danger. Any kind of protection such as intervention orders are often distorted in the court as attempting to stop contact. The culture of the family court is not just "unhelpful" towards victims, but against them with a vengeance.

Of course, there is the issue of accountability where these courts are not only violating childrens and womens human rights, but also working to conceal that they are. When there is lack of transparency in reporting in these cases, well..you know where it derives from.

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