Courage and persistence helps to protect vulnerable witnesses
Federal Independent Member for Indi Cathy McGowan said the Family Law Amendment (Family Violence and Cross-examination of Parties) Bill 2018 shows how individuals and communities can effect national change.
Ms McGowan spoke to the amendment in parliament this week, acknowledging the courage of family violence survivor and Indi constituent Eleanor*.
“As a newly elected member of parliament for north-east Victoria, one of my first constituent meetings in Wodonga was with Eleanor,” Ms McGowan told parliament.
“Eleanor came to me and said, ‘Cathy, we need to change the law, and you as my Member of Parliament need to help me do this.’ So it is with enormous pleasure tonight (Monday) that I stand in this house and say to Eleanor, ‘Finally we’re there.’
“I would also like to acknowledge the support of my (former) staff member, Karen Keegan; previous Chief Justice Diana Bryant; and, in particular, the Women's Legal Service for the work they've done on this; and I name Angela Lynch and Pasanna Mutha for their work in getting us to this stage.”
The Bill was introduced by Attorney-General Christian Porter earlier this year and proposes to prevent perpetrators of family violence from cross examining victims during court proceedings.
Ms McGowan moved a Private Members’ Motion on the same topic on 2015 and said she was proud to stand in parliament this week as part of a bipartisan effort to pass the amendment.
“This Bill is a step in the right direction for improving the legal processes associated with family violence,” Ms McGowan said.
“There needs to be more protection for victims of family violence and my office has certainly been told that by many people in Indi.”
Assistance with family violence matters is available by calling 1800RESPECT.
*MEDIA NOTE: Eleanor is the name used by a regional Victorian woman who fled from family violence. She was cross examined in court by her former partner, an experience she described as traumatic. She has called for laws to be change.