Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Family Violence is still on the menu on Australian Family Court

Despite recent changes implementing family violence laws in the Family Court, Family Violence is still thriving.  Whilst the past year I have barely spent online, I have talked to hundreds of mothers affected by this mostly with recent cases where the judgments favor the perpetrator above the child and all victims involved.  Victims still barely have a voice.

Despite all the well crafted speeches from the court in public space, private-sphere is a different story.  Alike all forms of abuse occurring in private, so does human rights violations against the most vulnerable and least likely to afford the fine things in life that the courts actors enjoy at their expense(and sometimes the cost of a life): children and women.

The court relies all too heavily upon the notion that it makes its decisions based upon the rights of the convention of the child.  This is used to protect child's privacy, "best interests" and right to know the other parent.  I make no error in my judgement when I write that these interests are only upheld when the courts interests are upheld first and if they are compatible, the child's rights are not violated.

When family violence(not limited to domestic violence) is historical to the family, these interests usually clash with the courts.  This is because most victims are robbed of resources that the perpetrator has at his disposal.  The gender divide is just touching the surface when examining the root of the issue. Its why these laws do not work.  We could lobby again and change the laws to ensure that every child's voice is heard, but the reality is that the court navigates around these laws creatively and completely at each judges whim.  The political culture of the courts is ingrained in neoconservative values, over-toned by patriarchy with the old fashioned, "children and women should be seen and not heard".  One only needs to read the views of the judgments to find their own perfect flavor of disgust.  For many years, activists have continuely recommended the court become more open and tested with community values, but the best recommendation I have heard is a royal commission.  The court needs to be investigated, not merely touched superficially by a 2d tabloid view, but a thorough investigation where every aspect is examined.  Where the money trail is followed all the way to the end and every name of every child homicide is checked against the court records with or without the courts approval.  It is something that is no longer a request, idea or merely a discussion point:  Its an expectation.  Without it, the court remains liable to the deaths of all victims affected.