Batty calls for family law courts to be overhauled

ROSIE Batty should have been celebrating her only son's 14th birthday today.

Instead she gave a petition calling for the overhaul of the nation's family law system to the Liberals, Labor and the Greens.

Ms Batty's little boy Luke was beaten by to death by his father in February 2014.

Since losing her son, Ms Batty has dedicated her life to ending domestic violence.

He latest battle is trying to get the Family Court of Australia to ensure it takes into account domestic and family abuse when making child custody decisions.

More than 20,000 Australians signed Ms Batty's Justice for Kids petition that offers a five-step plan to better protect children from domestic violence perpetrators.

It was developed with the Women's Legal Services Australia.

Handing the petition to Liberal Minister for Women, Michaelia Cash, Labor Senator Claire Moore and Greens leader Richard Di Natale this morning, Ms Batty said she had heard "thousands of stories" about how the Family Court judiciary allowed domestic abusers to have ongoing access to their children.

She said this put innocent young lives in danger as they faced ongoing mental distress from spending time with an abusive parent and they also faced potential victimisation.

"I decided to use Luke's birthday to talk about the number one issue that is raised with me wherever I go - problems with the family law system that put children in danger," Ms Batty said.

"There are thousands of stories of heartache and frustration, but even worse stories of horror and danger.

"Stories of children that have been put in harm's way because the family law system has failed them.

"This petition is about putting the safety, wellbeing and essential needs of children above all else.

"It's about keeping our kids safe from violence and terror.

"What could be more important?"

The petition outlines a five-step family law reform plan that would see courts take into account domestic violence history.

The plan involves the family law system:

  • Developing a specialist response for domestic violence cases;
  • Supporting those who are most at risk of future violence;
  • Intervening early and provide effective legal help;
  • Supporting women and children to financially recover; and 
  • Strengthening understanding of all family law professionals on family violence.

"I am thrilled that so many have signed this petition in the short time since it was launched. It shows that this is an issue that has broad community support," Ms Batty said.

"People want to know the family law system will keep our kids safe."

Meanwhile, the Greens today said they would spend $46 million over six years to prevent violence against women.

The money would support women's financial independence, secure Our Watch funding, assist sports clubs to make cultural change and support the national roll out of Respectful Relationships programs in schools.

The money is on top of the Greens' pre-election pledge offering $5 billion over 10 years for frontline domestic violence services if they win the election.

*For 24-hour support phone Queensland's DVConnect on 1800 811 811 or MensLine on 1800 600 636, NSW's Domestic Violence Line on 1800 656 463 or the national hotline 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732).



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