Evaluation of the 2012 family violence amendments

Synthesis report
Evaluation of the 2012 Family Violence Amendments – October 2015


This report was commissioned and funded by the Australian Government Attorney-General's Department (AGD).

The authors would like to acknowledge and thank all of those who contributed to or assisted with each of the three components of the Evaluation of the 2012 Family Violence Amendments.

In relation to the Responding to Family Violence Study, the authors would like to acknowledge and thank all of those who contributed to or assisted with the Survey of Family Law Practices and Experiences, including the judicial officers and registrars, lawyers, family consultants, family dispute resolution practitioners and other non-legal professionals who participated in our online surveys. Particular thanks go to all of the parents who participated in the telephone interviews for the Experiences With Services module of the Survey of Recently Separated Parents (SRSP) 2014 (which formed part of this study) for their willingness to share with us the pathways to resolving their post-separation parenting and financial arrangements and their experiences of family law services in this regard. More specifically, in relation to the survey of professionals, the support of the Family Court of Australia (FCoA), the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (FCC), the Family Court of Western Australia (FCoWA), National Legal Aid, the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia, Family Relationship Services Australia, the law societies and associations and bar associations in each state and territory, Women's Legal Services Australia and the Australian Psychological Society Family Law and Psychology Interest Group was also much appreciated. We extend our gratitude to our colleagues at the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) who provided comments on the data collection instruments and assisted with pilot testing of the surveys. In particular, we acknowledge the contributions of Dr Lixia Qu, Julie Deblaquiere and John De Maio who provided advice and assistance with the representation of aspects of the quantitative data in this report, and we also thank Dr Sarah Tayton and Briony Horsfall who kindly volunteered to read and offer critical comments on this report.

In relation to the Experiences of Separated Parents Study (ESPS), the authors would like to acknowledge and thank all parents who participated in the telephone interviews for the SRSP 2012 and 2014. Without their contributions and willingness to share their views and experiences with us, this research would not have been possible. Thanks also go to the team at Department of Human Services - Child Support, particularly Judi Pritchard, Paula Potter, Alex Dolan and Ashley Bryant, who also supported this research through facilitating access to the sampling frame. We also thank Roy Morgan Research for their efforts in undertaking the data collection with parents for the SRSP, in both 2012 and 2014, and to Robert Clark of the University of Wollongong for undertaking the weighting of data for both the 2012 and 2014 surveys. The ESPS research builds on the methodology applied in the Longitudinal Study of Separated Families, and we acknowledge the contribution made by Ruth Weston and Dr Lixia Qu to this study.

In relation to the Court Outcomes Project, we thank the FCoA, the FCC and the FCoWA for their support of the Court Administrative Data Study and Court Files Study. Particular thanks go to Chief Justice The Hon. Diana Bryant, Kristen Murray, Maudie Love and Dennis Beissner of the FCoA; Chief Judge The Hon. John Pascoe, Stewart Fenwick and Adele Bryne of the FCC; and Chief Judge The Hon. Stephen Thackray and Robyn Zuliani of the FCoWA. We also extend our thanks to Nathan Agius of the Melbourne Registry, Wendy Bartlett of the Sydney Registry, Jamie Crew and Susan Haysom of the Brisbane Registry and, once again, to Robyn Zuliani and the Records Team of the FCoWA, for facilitating access to the court files by AIFS data collection staff for the Court Files Study. We extend our particular thanks to our dedicated team of data collectors: Ashleigh Trimmer, Dinika Roopani, Sandy Lloyd, Sarah Weel, Samantha Williams, Samantha Wong, Lauren Townsend, Sarah Ward, Ashleigh Price and Sonya Sas.

The authors would also like to thank the AGD, specifically AGD officers Tamsyn Harvey, Tracy Ballantyne, Sue Harris and Jackie Aumann, for their support and assistance throughout this evaluation.

Particular thanks are also due to Professor Richard Chisholm for reviewing and offering critical comment on the discussion of published judgments in this report.

We are grateful to our colleagues at AIFS who supported the Family Law Evaluation Team. We thank the IT and Web teams at AIFS for their assistance with programming and administering data collection instruments (and to Robert Stainsby in particular), Dr Debbie Scott for her support with the data extraction, and the AIFS Publishing team, Lan Wang in particular, for editing this synthesis report, together with the reports for each component of the evaluation.

We would also like to thank Professor Alan Hayes AM, Director of AIFS (until 30 June 2015); Sue Tait, Acting Director of AIFS (until 7 September 2015); Associate Professor Daryl Higgins, Deputy Director (Research); and Dr Michael Alexander, Acting Deputy Director (Corporate and Strategy) for their advice and support throughout the evaluation research.