Domestic violence perpetrators banned from cross-examining victims

May 15, 2017

Alleged perpetrators of domestic violence will be banned from cross-examining their victims in court under changes to be introduced by the Turnbull government.

Former Australian of the year Rosie Batty, who campaigned in favour of the change, welcomed the commitment as a “huge victory” for victims escaping violence.

Attorney-General George Brandis announced in Tuesday’s budget that the government will launch a major review of the Family Law Act – the first since it was introduced in 1976.

Senator Brandis said the government would soon release proposed amendments to the act to ensure domestic violence victims cannot be cross-examined by alleged perpetrators who represent themselves in court. He said the change was a response to concerns that family violence victims were experiencing further trauma by being directly cross-examined by their attackers.

Domestic violence survivor Angela Zena Hadchiti, who launched a petition calling for such cross-examinations to be banned, said: “This is a really positive step.”

Earlier this year the Penrith mother-of-three told Fairfax Media of her experience being cross-examined by her ex-husband at an Apprehended Violence Order hearing in 2015. Her daughter was also cross-examined at Blacktown Court House and found the experience deeply distressing.  “He was very rude, very controlling,” Ms Hadchiti recalled. “He was swearing, throwing things.

“He was trying to silence us so we didn’t tell our story.” She said: “I was shocked to find out this was allowed. We were terrified of this man. We weren’t prepared for this at all.”

Ms Hadchiti said it was “about time” the law was changed and the experience was more common than many would imagine.

“I’m really happy they are going to close what was a huge loophole in our legal system,” she said. “The experience [of cross-examination] was like reliving a nightmare.”

Originally Published by The Barossa Herald, continue reading here.