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Overview of Commission’s past work on family and domestic violence

Discrimination Sex Discrimination
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Child holding adults' hand

Since 2010, the Commission has prioritised freedom from violence, harassment and bullying as a work area. Recognising gender based violence against women as one of the most prevalent human rights abuses in Australia has been a key component of this work.

The Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s 2010 Gender Equality Blueprint acknowledged violence against women as significantly affecting the public and private lives of Australians and sets out key strategies and recommendations for improved responses to violence against women.  During her  term from 2010 to 2015,  Commissioner Broderick  worked with  employers to raise awareness about the impact of domestic violence in their workplace,  encouraging employers to adopt policies to assist employees who are affected by domestic violence, and advocating the recognition of domestic and family violence as a protected attribute under anti-discrimination laws

Hosting UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women

IN 2012, the Commission co-hosted the Study tour of the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women,  Ms Rashida Manjoo.  The study tour gathered information on

  • violence against women, its causes and consequences, from government and non-governmental organisations, including women's organisations;
  • culture and violence against women in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities; and
  • identified strategies to eliminate all forms of violence against women and its causes, and remedy its consequences.

The study tour reinforced that while violence against women and children is a gendered manifestation and cause of inequality and discrimination, some groups of women are more vulnerable to experiencing family and domestic violence.    The reasons are complex and multi factored, and include structural and systemic barriers, and a lack of appropriate and effective services and support, such as adequate policing, crisis care and accommodation. Key themes and recommendations from the consultations are available in the Commission’s report on the Study Tour, Australian study tour report: Visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women 10-20 April 2012     

Women with disability and domestic and family violence

The Commission has consistently raised concerns about the   groups of women   who are more vulnerable to domestic and family violence. 

Women with disability experience higher levels of violence in Australia compared to women without disability and are more likely to experience violence in residential and institutional settings. In 2012, the Commission’s Independent Interim Report on Australia’s Implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, recommended that the Government undertake a comprehensive assessment of the situation of women with disability, including their experiences of violence including in institutions and supported accommodation.

Family and domestic violence in Indigenous communities

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are more likely to be victims of family violence and other violence where there is a relationship with the offender than non-Indigenous Australians. In his 2011 Social Justice Report, the Social Justice Commissioner, Mick Gooda explored lateral violence within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and  discusses  practical strategies to remedy the injustices that have created this violence, and is discussed in detail in Chapter 2: Lateral violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Coronial Inquest

In June 2012, the Commission intervened in the Western Australian Coronial Inquest into the death of Andrea Pickett, an Aboriginal woman murdered by her estranged husband. Despite the high homicide rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, very few, if any inquests into domestic violence related homicides of Aboriginal women are held.

The Commission made submissions in relation to:

  • identifying the relevant human rights issues;
  • understanding the interplay between those rights and the circumstances surrounding Mrs Pickett's death; and
  • understanding the obligations on the State in the protection and implementation of those rights

Prior to the hearing the Commission was involved in discussions with Counsel assisting the Coroner and was successful in broadening the original terms of reference to include systemic issues in relation to the handling of domestic violence matters by the various State Government departments.

The Commission appeared at the inquest, examined witnesses and made oral and further written submissions in relation to the relevance of human rights to the inquest, the obligations of the State of Western Australian in relation to domestic violence and the elimination of discrimination against women in the form of domestic violence.
The Commission’s submission in PDF or Word

The Coroner’s findings in PDF

Ending family violence in Indigenous communities

For an overview of key Commission work in family violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities, see also
Ending Family Violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities (2006) An overview paper of research and findings by the Australian Human Rights Commission, 2001 – 2006

 


Key Commission Publications

 

Key reports

 


Submissions

AHRC Submission to the Attorney-General’s Department on Consolidation of Commonwealth Discrimination Law - domestic and family violence (2012).

Australian Human Rights Commission Submission to the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Post Implementation Review of the Fair Work Act 2009

Consolidation of Commonwealth Discrimination law - domestic and family violence

Australian Human Rights Commission Supplementary Submission to the Attorney-General’s Department

2011 Family Violence and Commonwealth Laws: Employment and Superannuation. Australian Human Rights Commission Submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission

2011   Inquiry into the Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2011 Australian Human Rights Commission Submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee

 


Opinion Pieces

Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner
When domestic violence comes to work (2011) https://www.humanrights.gov.au/news/opinions/when-domestic-violence-comes-work-2011

8 December 2011
Elizabeth Broderick
Business must face up to domestic violence https://www.humanrights.gov.au/news/opinions/business-must-face-domestic-violence-2011

 


Selected Media

Sunday 24 November 2013
Leadership critical to eliminating violence against women
https://www.humanrights.gov.au/news/stories/leadership-critical-eliminating-violence-against-women

Friday 28 June 2013
Fair Work changes recognise carers and domestic violence
https://www.humanrights.gov.au/news/stories/fair-work-changes-recognise-carers-and-domestic-violence-0

2011 News:
Without inclusion policies LGBTIQ domestic violence will continue
https://www.humanrights.gov.au/news/stories/2011-news-without-inclusion-policies-lgbtiq-domestic-violence-will-continue


[1] See Commonwealth Government, Department of Social Services’ Second Action Plan 2013-2016, Moving Ahead of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022, Action 19 - Reviewing domestic and family violence-related deaths. At https://www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/women/programs-services/reducing-violence/the-national-plan-to-reduce-violence-against-women-and-their-children/the-second-action-plan

[2] Social Justice Report 2011, Chapter 2: Lateral violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities - Social Justice Report 2011 What does lateral violence look like?

At https://www.humanrights.gov.au/publications/chapter-2-lateral-violence-aboriginal-and-torres-strait-islander-communities-social#s2_2

[3] The homicide rates of Indigenous women are between 9 and 23 times higher at different times in the life cycle than they are for non-Indigenous women. See the Independent Interim Report on CEDAW 2012

At https://www.humanrights.gov.au/independent-interim-report-cedaw#fnB46 The homicide rates are between 9 and 23 times higher at different times in the life cycle than they are for non-Indigenous women.