Safety First in Family Law - a Five Step plan


Following our first Put Safety First campaign in 2012 the family law system is still in crisis, and there is still so much that could be done to put safety first. We have a five step road map for fixing it, and this year, togther with Rosie Batty and over 90 organisations, we are asking politicians to make those changes.

Read our open letter.

See how you can help - take action.

The crisis

Our family law system is in crisis.

Every day women are left traumatised and children are left in the hands of abusive parents as the family law system struggles to recognise and respond to risk.

The key problems in the system: 

  • There are no domestic violence specialists based in the Federal Circuit Court or Family Court registries that can identify and manage risk to children at an early stage in a case
  • There are no support services based at the Federal Circuit Court or Family Court that can link families in with drug and alcohol programs, child and youth support programs and domestic violence and housing services
  • Women and children from communities that are at the highest risk of domestic violence are the least likely to be able to access the family law system. This includes women and children from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities
  • Domestic violence victims are being directly cross-examined by or at risk of direct cross-examination by the perpetrator of the violence in family courts
  • Over 30% of parties in the Family Court are unrepresented. The most disadvantaged Australians struggle to access assistance in family law cases from community legal centres and legal aid commissions due to limited Federal funding
  • There is limited understanding of domestic violence, trauma and cultural issues amongst family law professionals. Family law professionals include family consultants (expert witnesses), independent children’s lawyers, family lawyers and judges
  • It is difficult to access safe and legally assisted mediation, forcing parties to engage in protracted court battles.

The solution

Read the five step road map – Safety First in Family Law

There are real and practical solutions in family law that will reduce trauma and support the most vulnerable women and children in our community to stay safe after fleeing violence. It’s time for real solutions. Can you help?

Step 1 – Develop a specialist response for domestic violence cases in family courts

Step 2 – Reduce trauma and support those who are most at risk of future violence and death

Step 3 – Intervene early and provide effective legal help for the most disadvantaged

Step 4 – Support women and children to financially recover from domestic violence

Step 5 – Strengthen the understanding of all family law professionals on domestic violence and trauma

Take Action to put Safety First


Can you help?

So many of us have seen or heard how broken our family law system is. Now we have a road map for fixing it. Can you can make sure that all our political leaders commit to our five step plan?

  • Stand with Rosie and the Never Alone campaign by signing the petition to fix family law.
  • Write to the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition asking them to put the safety of women and children first in family law by adopting the five step plan in the lead up to the 2016 election. We’ve put together a sample letter and some email tips, you can read them here.
  • Share this page with your networks and friends asking them to join the campaign.

The campaign so far 

Organisations across Australia have sent an open letter to the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Greens calling on them to fix family law and adopt WLSA’s five step road map to safety in family law. We had a huge win when the Greens have announced their domestic violence policy, adopting our five step Safety First in Family Law plan.

Bipartisan support shown for Safety in Family Law 20 June 2016


This morning all political leaders from all major parties joined Rosie Batty and Women’s Legal Services Australia to raise concerns about safety in family law.

The federal minister for women, Senator Michaelia Cash, shadow minister for women, Senator Clare Moore and the leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Richard Di Natale, were delivered a petition by Rosie Batty calling for reform to the family law system with over 21,000 signatures from across Australia.

The Chief Justice of the Family Court Ms Diana Bryant AO also spoke in support of the plan but called on government to make the investment necessary to put the plan into action, without this additional funding, she said, support for the plan would simply be ’empty rhetoric’.

You can read about Women’s Legal Services Australia’s plan to prioritise safety in the family law system here and sign up to the Never Alone petition here.

You can support the campaign today by sharing our media release.

Greens adopt our 5-step Safety First in Family Law plan 02 June 2016


In the last week we have seen the Greens announce their domestic violence policy, adopting our five step Safety First in Family Law plan in its entirety.

Our plan is supported by over 90 organisations who have signed our open letter to all major political parties and former Australian of the Year Rosie Batty who is campaigning in support of the plan.

The announcement from the Greens is a huge win for the Safety First in Family Law campaign and it increases pressure on the Prime Minister as well as the Opposition leader to step up and commit to the plan to make women and children safe in the family law system.

Read our media release here.

Will you stand with us?

You can join the campaign by emailing the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition asking them to adopt the five step road map to fix family law. We’ve put together a sample letter and some email tips, you can read them here.

Sign the Never Alone campaign petition.

Let’s stand with Rosie Batty


The pressure is growing on all political leaders to step up and commit to fixing the family law system. Over 10,000 people have now signed Rosie Batty’s petition calling on all political leaders to fix family law.

This morning Rosie spoke to Fran Kelly about our five step road map to safety in family law and described her own struggles in the legal system. You can listen to her interview here.

Can you stand with Rosie and take action today?

Email the Prime MinisterLeader of the Opposition and Leader of the Greens asking them to adopt the five step road map to fix family law. To help you write your email we’ve put together a sample letter and some email tips, you can read them here.

Sign the Never Alone campaign petition.

To all political leaders – put safety first 05 May 2016


So many of us have seen or heard how broken our family law system is, how it treats women and children who have fled domestic violence.  Now we have a five step road map for fixing it.

Today, Rosie Batty launched Women’s Legal Services Australia’s five step road map – Safety First in Family Law. The road map provides the solutions for a safer family law system.

Together with over 90 organisations across Australia and the Never Alone campaign, we are asking our political leaders to create a family law system that achieves justice and safety for women and children. Read our open letter.

Read our media release here.

Can you can make sure that all our political leaders commit to the five step plan?

Support Rosie’s call to fix the family law system and sign the Never Alone petition.

Write to the Prime MinisterLeader of the Opposition and Leader of the Greens. Ask them to put the safety of women and children first in family law by adopting the five step plan in the lead up to the 2016 election.

Download Resources


Below is a list of supporting documents for this campaign.

DescriptionDownload file
Open Letter Safety First in Family Law Safety_First_FINAL_OPEN_LETTER_JUNE2016 (45 KB, pdf)

Websites & Links


Link URL
Media Release http://www.wlsa.org.au/media_releases/wlsa_launches_5_step_plan_to_keep_women_and_children_safe_in_family_law