Victims need protection

THE Federal Government has released draft legislation to amend the Family Law Act to ensure victims of family violence are protected from being personally cross-examined by their alleged perpetrators.

The draft amendments would implement a ban on self-represented parties directly cross-examining their former partners where one party is convicted or charged with an offence involving violence against another party.

The court is also proposed to have discretion to disallow direct cross-examination in other matters where there are allegations of family violence.

The court will be able to appoint a person to act as an intermediary to ask questions in cross-examination on behalf of a party to maintain procedural fairness.

"These changes respond to concerns that victims of family violence are not further traumatised

in putting evidence

before the court while ensuring the framework does not encourage

false allegations of

family violence,” said accredited family law specialist lawyer, Simon Caldwell (pictured).

"The courts already

have a range of powers to protect vulnerable witnesses during hearings such as requiring witnesses to give evidence by video link and not allowing cross-examination of witnesses in child related matters but it is hoped that these new amendments

will strengthen the protections afforded to victims of family violence.”

The Federal Attorney General, Senator George Brandis QC, has released the exposure draft of the legislation which is available at: www.ag.gov.au/ Consultations/Pages/ Family-violence-cross- examination-amendments. aspx.

Interested parties may make submissions in response to the proposed amendments which are due by August 25 and may be emailed to familylawunit@ag.gov.au.



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