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For six months, our politicians have argued about family law. In that time, 20 women have died.

“How many more women and children have to die in this system?”

This is the question from the Women’s Legal Services Queensland chief executive Angela Lynch.

You see, the answer to that question (so far) is 20.

Women and violence the hidden numbers. Post continues after video.

Video by MMC

At least 20 women have been killed in domestic violence incidents since the Australian Law Reform Commission made 60 recommendations to the Government in March on ways to combat the issue within the family law court system.

“The greatest impediment to women leaving domestic violence in this country is the family law system,” explained Ms Lynch of why this particular approach is so pressing.

But in the six months since the report was handed to the government they are yet to respond to any of the recommendations. In fact, the government has chosen to instead respond by calling another inquiry.

But that’s not what is needed here.

Gold Coast businesswoman Nicolle Edwards is doing her bit for domestic violence victims. Post continues after podcast.

Family violence survivors want the recommendations that have already been handed in examined, and as Ms Lynch told reporters in Canberra, many want a dedicated expert court instated. What they don’t want is more delay in the form of another inquiry.

“It’s completely unacceptable for us to have another inquiry. We have had multiple inquiries about the failings of the family law court system,” anti-domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty told ABC radio. “We know the failings, we need to start investing.”

Women’s Safety NSW has compiled 12 women’s experiences in a new report that shows the dire side effects and horrendous ramifications that have been felt as a result of our family law court system.

Rosie-and-Luke-Batt
Rosie Batty's son Luke was killed by his father in 2013. Since then, she has become a prominent campaigner for change. Image: Supplied.
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The women speak of the lack of care, help or support they were afforded within it with admissions like:

"I was frightened at court and around court dates."

"Staff were unprofessional and appeared personally invested and not competent."

"I was blamed for exposing the children to DV." 

"I was told on my first court day by the judge to 'just get over it' [the domestic violence.]"

Their suggestions for change range from "shut it down" and "start again" to "have a royal commission."

These women are desperate, terrified, angry and shocked at the further abuse and trauma the system has put them and their children through.

The report released by the Australian Law Reform in March included recommendations like establishing state and territory family courts, and for children's views and best interests to be more at the forefront when determining parenting arrangements.

The 583 page document is about as thorough as they come, and yet apparently we need another inquiry which will take another year to complete.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has chosen former social services minister Kevin Andrews to chair, with One Nation leader Pauline Hanson to co-chair.

Kevin-and-Pauline
Kevin Andrews and Pauline Hanson are heading up the new inquiry. Image: Getty.
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To give you an insight into what that might look like, Hanson told ABC radio this morning that some women are "making up" domestic violence allegations.

"There are people out there who are nothing but liars and who will use that in the court system," she insisted.

When asked for evidence of her sweeping statement, Hanson suggested the host "contact men's rights groups".

Then there's Andrews who believes de facto relationships are more "unstable" than marriage because it's too easy for men to "drift" without making a commitment.

At the end of the day there's a time for research and there's a time for action, and domestic violence experts say the time for the latter is long overdue.

As Ms Lynch points out, between 50 and 85 percent of family law matters involve domestic violence.

The Women's Safety NSW report gives a scary insight into what that actually looks like for women and children currently under the system as it stands.

"I live in constant fear for my safety and the safety of my children."

"I still have to deal with abuse nearly every fortnight."

"Each time I have been ordered to tell him my address even though he threatened to kill me."

"I was made homeless in my fight for fairness."

These families shouldn't have to wait another year for change.

With AAP.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.

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