Shifting the gaze: Will past violence be silenced by a further shift of the gaze to the future under the new family law system?
In 2006 the Australian government instituted a major transformation of the family law system with the roll out of family relationship centres across the country and changes to the Family Law Act 1975. This article argues that the new system will shift the gaze away from the history of the 'intact family' in ways that may be dangerous for women and children who have left domestic violence. It will suggest that influences on the practice framework of family relationship centres may unconsciously exclude discussion of past violence. Key features of the 2006 Act are also examined and it is suggested that some of these shift the gaze away from evidence of past violence towards post-separation events and a new ideal future. The possible limited effectiveness of the provisions and processes which deal with protection and family violence is explored. If past violence is not fully ventilated the mother's ability to protect the children post-separation will be compromised and inappropriate and unsafe parenting plans, agreements and orders may be made.
Australian Journal of Family Law