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Data custodian: Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS)
Contact: Deputy Director (Research)
Address: Level 20, South Tower, 485 La Trobe St, Melbourne, VIC, 3000
Telephone: 03 9214 7888
Facsimile: 03 9214 7839
The primary purpose of this data collection was to assess the extent to which the change in family law legislation affected court orders relating to parental responsibility and children’s time between parents after parental separation. Within this context, information was collected as part of this study to determine how matters involving concerns about family violence and child abuse are dealt with by the courts.
This component obtained and analysed information contained in court files to inform the evaluation’s analysis of broader trends in the use of court services in the context of the 2006 reforms.
Family and Domestic Violence related content (data items collected)
2 Post reform files only - recorded where the court file contained a claim relating to the impact of substance abuse on capacity to parent.
3 Post reform files only - information relating to State Protection Orders (including Violence Orders), police and medical services if recorded on the court file.
4 Post reform files only.
The collection instruments can be viewed at: http://www.aifs.gov.au/institute/pubs/fle/appendixc.pdf
Definition of Family and Domestic Violence
Family and Domestic Violence is defined operationally in this collection using information contained in court files of whether violence or abuse is listed as a factual issue of a reason for unequal parenting responsibilities.
Legislation and screening tools used pre-and post-reform form the basis on which FDV is defined for consideration by courts. Post-reform, Family Violence is defined by the Family Law Act, 1975 as:
“conduct, whether actual or threatened, by a person towards, or towards the property of, a member of the person's family that causes that or any other member of the person's family reasonably to fear for, or reasonably to be apprehensive about, his or her personal well-being or safety.
A person reasonably fears for, or reasonably is apprehensive about, his or her personal well-being or safety in particular circumstances if a reasonable person in those circumstances would fear for, or be apprehensive about, his or her personal well-being or safety. “
The Screening and Assessment Guidelines refer to the Partnerships Against Domestic Violence (1997) definition, which is:
“ …an abuse of power perpetrated mainly (but not only) by men against women both in a relationship and after separation. It occurs when one partner attempts to physically or psychologically dominate or control the other. Domestic violence takes a number of forms. The most commonly acknowledged forms are physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional and social abuse and economic deprivation.” (AGD 2006, p. 27)
Pre-reform allegations were not collected.
Aspects of FDV captured by the data are:
Relationship to Conceptual Framework for Family and Domestic Violence (Cat. No. 4529.0)
Information was collected from a sample of 1,724 court files involving parenting disputes lodged in the Family Court of Australia (FCoA), Federal Magistrates Court (FMC) and the Family Court of Western Australia (FCoWA). Information was collected from a sample of 739 court files lodged and finalised prior to July 2006 (the pre-reform sample) and 985 court files lodged and finalised after July 2006 (the post-reform sample).
Scope / target population
Separating couples with parenting disputes lodged in the FCoA, FMC and the FCoWA before and after the introduction of the 2006 Family Law Reforms.
Post-reform files were sampled from the Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane registries of the FCoA and FMC along with court files from the FCoWA. Pre-reform files were sampled from the Melbourne registry of the FCoA and FMC along with a sample of files from the FCoWA.
Geographic coverage and disaggregation
Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Western Australia
Data available for:
Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Western Australia - specific court registries
Frequency / Timing
Collection commenced: November 2008
Breaks in series: no
Other details: n/a
Data availability / Dissemination