The House has passed the Bill

Today the House of Representatives passed the Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill. No amendments were made to the Bill and it was passed with the support of independent members Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshottand Andrew Wilkie, and Greens member Adam Bandt (making for a two vote margin – ie, one person!).

The Senate Committee has sought an extension until 16 August for its inquiry into this Bill and so the Senate will most likely consider the Bill after that date. Hearings are currently scheduled for 8 July (to be confirmed).

You can find the Bill, the second reading speeches and the details of the Liberal Party proposed amendments (which were not passed by the House) at the Parliament House website for the Bill.

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It’s a big day today!

Well, it’s a big day today…

  • The Rally for Children’s Safetyis on!
  • The Bill is set to be debated in the House of Representatives around lunchtime.
  • The Coalition have announced they have some concerns about the Bill.
  • The Attorney-General has released even more research that demonstrates the family law system is failing to protect women and children from violence (including evidence that one in four parents experienced family violence before separation and in many cases children witnessed some of the abuse or violence, and that one in five parents reported they had safety concerns for themselves or their child as a result of ongoing contact with the other parent).

If you can’t get to the rally and are wondering what you can do, you could send an email to Shadow Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, calling on the Coalition to support the changes in the Bill and the further changes that are necessary to ensure the family law system is a safe one.

You can also contact your local coalition Senators and members of parliament. If you don’t know who your local member is, you can find your electorate here and the contact details for the electorate representative here. You can find your Senators here.

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Update on the Bill

The Bill was listed in yesterday’s notice paper for debate in the House of Representatives but the House ran out of time, so we expect the debate to take place when the House next sits (in the week beginning 23 May).

On Wednesday, the Selection Committee report referred the Bill to the Social Policy and Legal Affairs Committee for inquiry. The Committeereported back to the House yesterday saying that because the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee are conducting a public inquiry into the Bill, the Social Policy and Legal Affairs Committee would not be inquiring further.

We’ll keep you updated on next steps but in the meantime, be sure to sign our petition and endorse the Safety for Children’s Alliance key messages for its rally in Canberra on 25 May.

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Rally in Canberra on 25 May

The Safety for Children Alliance are organising a rally in Canberra on 25 May to call for changes to be made to the Family Law Act. Visit their website for more information or to endorse the rally’s key messages. Women’s Legal Services Australia has endorsed the key messages.

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WLSA submission to Senate Committee

Our submission to the Senate Committee inquiry is now available online here.

You can view all the submissions made to the inquiry here.

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Sign our online petition

We’ve put up an online petition for supporters of our campaign to sign. You can sign the petition here.

Don’t forget to also put in a submission to the Senate Committee – see below for our position paper and submission writing kit.

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Updated position paper and submission writing kit

We have updated our position paper and submission writing kit to assist others in making submissions to the Senate Committee inquiry into the Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2011. Submissions are due on 29 April 2011.

The position paper includes information about the Bill as well as some of our suggestions for how the Bill could be improved to better protect women and children from family violence in the family law system.

The submission writing kit includes some background about the inquiry and how to engage, as well as a template letter that can be used in developing your own submission.

Both updates are based on the papers that we released in December 2010 to assist individuals and organisations engage in the consultation on the Exposure Draft Bill. They reflect the differences between the Exposure Draft Bill and the Bill that was introduced into Parliament on 24 March 2011. If you made a submission on the Exposure Draft Bill, you still need to make another submission to the Senate Committee as they will not receive your earlier submission.

Have fun writing!

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