What would you do if when falsely accused of domestic violence the court placed an order on you without providing you with an opportunity to defend yourself?
This is what is happening in Magistrates courts around Australia on a daily basis and often many of the people involved had no idea that they had to be in court.
The domestic violence system is failing Australians by denying procedural fairness on an almost daily bases in court rooms around the country.
Here’s how it happens.
You have been accused of domestic violence, and told to appear in the local Magistrates court.
When you turn up at the court you are told by court staff that you are to go home and a duty lawyer would call you, provide you with advice, before taking your instructions before the magistrate where you are seeking to have the matter heard at a hearing because the allegations are false.
Then after waiting all day you to hear from the duty lawyer and court you call and are told that your matter was heard and the Magistrate placed a 5 year order against you.
You are now restricted from seeing your children, accessing your personal effects or going to your home for five years.
When you ask about the process of objecting to the order, you are then told that you must now pay a lawyer and reapply to the court to have the matter reheard.
Because the Magistrate does not want to deal with unrepresented respondents in his court.
You arrive home from work to find your house has been emptied of your families possessions and your wife and kids are gone.
There is a notice on the door that tells you that you are in breach of a domestic violence order for being in your home and you have to leave.
You haven’t been contacted by police or the courts and you have no clue where your family is.
Police arrive at your workplace and give you a temporary protection order and advise you that you will be required to appear in court but do not give you a date.
What you didn’t know was court staff and domestic violence advocates have advised police not notify you of your court date until after the the matter is heard and the order has been made, therefore making it impossible for you to defend yourself or to have the order removed.
Two weeks later you receive a call from police who advise you to attend a police station to collect the protection order, after the matter was heard in your absence.
They read the conditions of the five year protection order to you which includes restrictions placed on you that prevent you from having access to your children, personal property and family assets.
It’s the stuff of nightmares and it’s happening every day around our country to men and fathers who are being discriminated against because of their gender.
Here’s our Family Violence Reform #PolicySnapShot
Our policy will enforce a zero tolerance approach to all family and domestic violence. Domestic violence legislation will be amended to ensure services and support will be provided to all victims regardless of their age, gender or sexuality.
#FamilyViolenceReform #Equality #Respect #Discrimination #BetterFamilies #BetterNation