Examination of Children affected by Family and Domestic Violence
National Children’s Commissioner Submission June 2015
We have a long and consistent record of speaking about the rights and needs of children. Our focus has been for children in a single mother household. In our research and response to the family law reviews, our priorities were to elevate the voice of the child and that safety is granted primacy in all family law deliberations.
- That the gendered lens is applied when talking about family and domestic violence. The reality that ‘she can’t just leave’, that there are systemic failures and gaps in the crisis system. Separation in itself is a highly dangerous time and without financial resources there is real risk of homelessness with a future permanently scarred by financial hardship. We need to change the discourse of blaming mothers and exonerating perpetrators of family violence. Policy formation which does not understand this dynamic is at best limited.
- We need to get real about the costs to seek and stay safe. Money does matter; it gives autonomy to a family. Autonomy provides opportunities and choices to seek out the required services that best suit their circumstances and to restore dignity. We ask that the Commission fully understand the need for autonomy and recognise the financial consequences for single mother families who have been subjected to family violence. In our response to the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence we sought that impacted families be granted an exemption to the current rules, thus enabling them to retain access to the modest but appropriate Parenting Payment until they no longer require income support and/or the youngest child has turned 16 years. We pointed out an absence of consideration regarding the impact of domestic violence when deliberating on appropriate levels of income support. In particular the additional challenges in terms of access to the labour market and the increased parental demands, both were missing in recent welfare reviews and/or legislative changes.
- Public commentary such as challenging the myths and the commentary that still surrounds family violence. The dominant views are a source of frustration to NCSMC and others. The perpetrators of family violence who are predominantly male appear to have their crimes of violence air-brushed and/or exonerated. This along with the trivialising and disbelief of violence isolates children and their family from speaking out.
- Longitudinal study regarding the impact of family violence on child young people and children.