To coincide with the United Nations International Day of Families, we shed light on the issues of family and sexual violence as a major health, welfare and social issue. Family violence reaches people of all ages and backgrounds, significantly women and children, including those from migrant communities. Children exposed to family violence in their own home, or in their community can suffer a range of long-lasting emotional, physical and social consequences.
Statistics recently released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reveal that 2.2 million Australians have experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or previous partner. About a million Australians have experienced violence from a boyfriend, girlfriend or date. The statistics also show that a far greater percentage of victims of sexual violence had experienced violence from an intimate partner or another person known to them, as against those who experienced sexual violence from a stranger.
Alarmingly, the proportion of homicide and violence attributed to partner-violence has been updated from 36% to 46%.
Migrants and family violence
A Monash University study recently found that as much as 1 in 3 women from migrant backgrounds have experienced domestic or family violence. The study also found that 97% of those who had experienced domestic violence had been a victim of controlling behaviours while 42% experienced physical and sexual violence. Temporary visa holders also reported higher levels of abuse as the threat of losing their visa can be used as a tool to exert coercive control.
The Court’s initiative: Lighthouse program
The expansion of the Lighthouse program plays a significant role in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia’s (the Court) response to cases which may involve risk relating to family violence, mental health, substance abuse or child abuse and neglect. The Lighthouse Program is part of the Court’s response to ensure that family safety risks are identified at the earliest point in proceedings and that case management decisions are risk-informed.
The Lighthouse program involves early risk screening through a secure online platform, triage and case management and aims to better allocate Court resources towards family violence issues.
We can help you
Often, a Family Violence Intervention Order (IVO) plays a part in reducing risk. An IVO is an order imposed by a Magistrate for the purposes of protecting a person and/or their children. An application for an IVO can be undertaken by the Police at their discretion and otherwise directly at your local Magistrates’ Court.
Contact us for confidential advice from our highly skilled family violence team. We also work alongside a network of immigration and criminal lawyers, together with mental health professionals.