Outcomes of the Royal Commission into Family Violence

On Wednesday 2nd November, Victorian Women Lawyers hosted Antoinette Braybrook from the Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service, 2015 Australian of the Year Rosie Batty and Rob Hulls from the Centre for Innovative Justice for a panel discussion. I had the privilege of moderating the evening. I wrote an on-the-fly recap of the evening as it happened, below.

I have fond memories of my time at Melbourne Law School. But looking back, surrounded by such intelligent people, I don’t think I was among the best students. It’s something my sister liked to remind me of, often. So the thought that I’m standing at the lectern of a top tier law firm — well, I’ll say that if there’s a heaven, I know that my sister Nikita would be there, and she’d surely be laughing at me pretty hard right about now. But learning doesn’t stop in Law School.

I want to take this opportunity to thank the panel for their frank, informative and comprehensive responses. Thank you to Rob for your commitment to innovative models of justice. Thank you to Antoinette for your commitment to Indigenous women and educating us, and making sure we continue to hear Indigenous women’s voices.

L-R: Rob Hulls, Rosie Batty, Antoinette Braybrook, Tarang Chawla

And thank you to Rosie. You open up about your experiences for us all to learn, to appreciate that we have the capacity to make a difference so tragedies that happened to both of our families are not normalised.

As lawyers, the Royal Commission into Family Violence is not the job done as the reforms begin to take shape. It is actually the very beginning. As the 227 Recommendations are implemented, we have a responsibility to remember that we can at once hold the rule of law sacrosanct, while we preserve the dignity of victims and give voice to them in our judicial institutions.

The adversarial system is broken — perhaps, that is why a great friend says to me that it is called a Court of Law, not a House of Justice. This is not to be seen as a consternation against the criminal justice system, but instead presents itself as a unique opportunity for new models of justice — models that are restorative, therapeutic and reparative, rather than punitive.

Models that hold perpetrators to account to reform their behaviour, while ensuring that women and children are kept safe. Models that address structural inequity against Indigenous women who are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised than the mainstream population, and 10 times more likely to die.

Tarang Chawla

Respectful relationships education and understanding gender roles and how they play out in everyday life is at the core of addressing the despicable reality of family violence in Australia. And to the men here, this is not women’s problem to solve. We have a responsibility to call out sexist behaviour and attitudes that condone, excuse or perpetuate gender inequality.

Thank you to Victorian Women Lawyers, thank you to the Indigenous owners of the land for the gift they give us, and thank you to you, for your questions and for your commitment to working towards a safer Australia.