New Conference Alert

ADDRESSING FILICIDE: Fourth International Conference for Cross National Dialogue

14 – 15 November, 2019, Deakin Downtown, Melbourne, Australia

This post was prepared by Professor Thea Brown, Emeritus Professor, Social Work, Monash University


Filicide is the killing of children by their parents.

The Monash Deakin Filicide Research Hub is now calling for abstracts and welcomes contributions to the forthcoming conference across all disciplines including law, psychology, social work, criminology, criminal justice, general medicine, psychiatry, nursing, policy research, academic, governmental and non-governmental
researchers, policy and program developers as well as from service organisations and victim advocacy and support groups.
The conference aims to address the following themes:

Types of filicide

All manifestations of filicide such as neonaticide, infanticide, single or multiple filicide, filicide-suicide, familicide, or any other intra-familial child homicide event.

Factors associated with filicide

Associated factors that are present or might a part of a filicide event including but not limited to, domestic violence, child abuse, substance abuse, alcohol
abuse, family law, separation or divorce, criminal history.

Education and prevention

Explores the role of education and prevention for communities, professional, existing programs, policy initiatives, risk assessment strategies, etc.

Criminal Justice System and Filicide

Explore the interactions between the different parts of the criminal justice
system and filicide events such as police, forensic experts, prison
programs, child death review committees, coroners, etc.


Any new research relating to filicide and media coverage of filicide events.
Post filicide services Examines the existence and role of programs for victims, their families, and other filicide survivors that may be available.

Creating child safe organizations and filicide

Surveys the impact of the newly implemented child safety policy on filicide prevention


We would like to emphasise that other themes may present themselves to contributors that are equally as important and we are happy to consider additional issues and themes.

Abstracts should be 300 words long including the title of the paper. In addition please state the theme to be addressed, the authors’ names and addresses, (postal and email) and organisational address (postal and email).
Abstracts are to be emailed to

For further information please visit our web site or contact the organising committee:
Professor Thea Brown
Social Work, Monash University

Dr Danielle Tyson
Criminology, Deakin University

Dr Paula Fernandez Arias
Social Work, Monash University

Feminist PhD Opportunities

Three opportunities for PhD scholarships have come to my attention which would be appropriate for graduates in law.

If you are interested in exploring gender, social inclusion and law (and being paid to do it!) please think about applying.

woman hanoi

Hanoi by Roberto Trombetta CC BYNC 2.0

Scholarship 1: Assisted reproduction and new family formation (Marsden funded research project)

This project, based at Auckland University of Technology, NZ is under Associate Professor Sharyn Davies.

NZ is a global leader in the affirmation of sexual and reproductive rights, yet barriers to assisted reproductive technologies remain, particularly for single, poor, LGBTQ+, disabled, Māori and Pacific people, and new migrants.

Funded through Marsden (2019-2021), this research project uses cross-cultural comparative ethnography to explore for the first time the experiences of those unable to access state-funded assisted reproductive technologies, and who are thus rendered socially infertile.

The candidate will work alongside Associate Professor Sharyn Davies, Associate Professor Rhonda Shaw and Dr Elizabeth Kerekere and will contribute to understandings of how people denied access to ART create families in Aotearoa New Zealand. The research aims to ensure that all people in Aotearoa are able to create families regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity or ability. The candidate’s research will focus on understanding the challenges in creating a family when ART is required but are access denied. The project will have a particular focus on people often excluded from such access, including LGBTQ, disabled people, single people, Muslim migrants, Māori and Pacific peoples. PhD projects focusing on Māori or Pacific groups are particularly welcome.

Aims of this research

  • Examine how these individuals form families, including through fertility travel
  • Formulate new ways of theorising kinship and family life
  • Promote acceptance of new forms of family

Applications close 31 October. Full info here.


Scholarships 2 and 3: Gender, Social inclusion and Water in Informal Settlements

Based at Monash Sustainable Development Institute, Monash University, and working under me, Associate Professor Becky Batagol and Dr Sheela Sinharoy, Emory University.
We’re looking for two research students from a broad range of backgrounds, especially anyone who has previously studied gender or/and international development. (Knowledge of water, WASH and water infrastructure is much less important.) We’d like someone with an honours and/or masters degree in anthropology, sociology, gender studies, international development, law, or similar. Strong experience with collecting and analyzing qualitative and/or mixed-methods data. International work experience with local partners/stakeholders is preferred but not required.

The project is an Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) Water for Women Fund grant, awarded to Monash and Emory universities to carry out research as a sub-study within the larger Revitalising Informal Settlements and their Environments (RISE) project to assess what does – and doesn’t – work in co-design, from an intersectional gender perspective. The goal of this sub-study is to generate new evidence on an intersectional gender and socially inclusive co-design approach that addresses social and technical aspects of safely managed water and sanitation, as well as structural inequalities faced by able-bodied and disabled women and girls, including in leadership, self-efficacy, safety and inclusion.

RISE is an action-research program exploring how to make water and sanitation more sustainable and inclusive by trialling the water sensitive cities approach in 24 urban informal settlements in Makassar, Indonesia and Suva, Fiji. Working alongside communities, governments, local leaders and partner institutions, the program aims to show that nature-based solutions – such as constructed wetlands and biofiltration gardens – can deliver low-impact, cost-effective health and environmental improvements. Underpinned by the emerging discipline of ‘planetary health’, RISE’s success will be measured by the health and wellbeing of residents – particularly children under five years of age – and the ecological diversity of the surrounding environment. More information can be found at

We have 2 x 3-year scholarships going on this project.

  • Expected start: February 2020
    • Applications close: 5pm, Friday 30 August 2019
    • Domestic fees at Monash University covered
    • Stipend: AUD $27,872 p.a.
    • Please note that travel to research sites in Indonesia and Fiji is expected

More details here.

Please email me at if interested in learning more. Please spread the word.


Banks are enabling economic abuse. Here’s how they could be stopping it

Becky Batagol, Monash University and Marcia Neave, Monash University

This article was originally published in The Conversation on 1 February 2019

File 20190131 108338 4cttim.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry delivers its final report today.

During its hearings there was an important problem that it has missed.

Banks and financial service providers are failing to adequately recognise the warning signs of economic abuse and family violence experienced by customers.

Family violence is a problem for the banks and their customers. It is a risk to them if it means loans can’t be repaid. It is a risk to their customers if they are made homeless and lose income and mental health in the financial fallout of abuse.

And it’s a problem for our community if banks and other institutions ignore or enable family violence.

Banks can spot warning signs

Customers, especially women, who seek loans from banks or who present to banks with high levels of financial stress might well be victims of economic abuse.

One recent Australian study found that nearly 16% of women had a history of economic abuse and 7% of men.

Economic abuse is a subtle form of violence that we often struggle to recognise.

Most of us know that slapping or pushing is violence. But even victims can fail to see that it is also violence when their partner tries to deny them money.

Here are some of the ways in which it happens:

• A victim of family violence can be forced to seek a loan that only benefits the perpetrator or to guarantee a loan made to the perpetrator

• A loan can be made to the victim and perpetrator jointly, but only the victim might make repayments

• After the violent relationship ends, the perpetrator might not contribute to repayments, and the bank might move to sell mortgaged property

• A victim might have difficulty obtaining information about a loan held in the perpetrator’s name which is secured by a mortgage over a family asset

They are not yet doing enough

In recent years there have been changes to banking industry guidelines to encourage banks to prevent the financial abuse of victims of family violence.

The Australian Bankers’ Association is pushing for widespread staff training. Much has been done, but a lot more needs to be done.

A 2017 survey of 98 banks, building societies, credit unions and credit providers found an alarming lack of awareness of family violence amongst front line staff who rarely identify customers experiencing violence or are even aware of support services.

Most responding institutions said they did not have family violence training for staff or plans to introduce it.

One legal service provider recently assisted ‘Mi-Kim’.

Several months after Mi-Kim’s husband left her, a lender contacted her to advise that the loan to the home she lived in with her pre-school-aged children was in arrears. The loan was in her husband’s name but the lender could not contact him. Mi-Kim , whose English was poor, started paying money into husband’s account to make mortgage repayments. He was still able to access his account and made withdrawals. The lender moved to sell the property.

These victims are doubly disadvantaged by their exposure to violence as well as poor practices on the part of their credit providers.

We know that asking about the presence of family violence helps encourage victims to disclose it. Where loans are being made to couples, financial service providers should specifically ask each member of the couple about family violence and whether any intervention/apprehended violence orders have been made.

Read more:
The banking sector can do its bit to combat family violence

Where violence is identified or suspected, a set of automatic protocols should whirr into place.

For joint loans and guarantees in the name of family members who do not benefit, banks and other creditors should have a legal obligation to warn the person taking on the obligation of the importance of obtaining independent advice. The code of practice should mandate information provision about family violence.

We have a rare opportunity to secure a common approach to family violence as part of the response to the banking royal commission. Our financial institutions should embrace it.

We are grateful to Women’s Legal Service Victoria and South East Community Links for providing the case studies referred to in this article.The Conversation

Becky Batagol, Associate Professor of Law, Monash Sustainable Development Institute, Monash University and Marcia Neave, Distinguished Professional Visitor, Faculty of Law, Monash University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Sexual assault Victims: Helpless before the Law

by Sarah Tan

This post is one in a series of posts on this blog written by students studying Non-Adversarial Justice at the Faculty of Law at Monash University. Students were invited to write blog posts explaining various complex areas of law relating to the justice system to ordinary readers. The very best post on each topic is published here.

I would not put myself through that again. I was the one that was put on trial. That’s not right… It tears [victims] apart… It’s not compulsory for [the Defendant] to be cross examined at any point… they can just sit there and watch.’

  • Tanya, victim of rape and assault


Sexual assault trials are widely known for being one of the most difficult offences to prosecute. Since the 1970s, reform work has been undertaken to revamp the Australian approach to dealing with sexual offences. Nonetheless, research has shown that at least 85 per cent of sexual assault cases do not reach the criminal justice system. With victim groups still describing the criminal justice process as ‘disempowering, counter-therapeutic, costly and delayed’, it is evident that the recent Victorian law reforms have had not much of a practical effect. Although the issue of sexual assault cannot be addressed solely by legislative change, it can be argued that the adversarial system actively harms sexual assault victims due to its need for victims to be cross-examined, the passive role victims play in the adversarial system, and the use of sexual history evidence.

woman on ground

Trigger 3: Awake In A Nightmare by Michelle Robinson CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


In any adversarial system, the cross-examination of witnesses is an essential feature. Through cross-examination, a witness’s evidence is scrutinised for inconsistencies that may render it unreliable. In a bid to protect sexual assault victims, courts utilise a variety of protective procedures including the giving of a victim’s evidence via a closed-circuit television at a remote facility. However, sexual assault victims are still fearful of the trauma of the legal process. Victims are often subject to an aggressive and traumatising cross-examination, till the extent that many describe it as ‘a second rape’. Under such circumstances, the adversarial criminal trial process is ground for secondary victimisation as sexual assault victims are required to recount the trauma of their original experience.

Furthermore, more often than not, many prosecutors do not do enough to prevent the unfair cross-examination of sexual assault victims. With defence lawyers having a duty to present their client’s case ‘fearlessly with vigour and determination’, victims are often unfairly cross-examined. As a result, victims tend to perceive themselves as being on trial and may develop a belief that they were victims due to their own faults.


The adversarial system also actively harms sexual assault victims due to the passive roles victims are given. Under an adversarial system, victims are positioned as spectators and are unable to present their views except when questioned as a witness. The passive role allocated to victims may result in feelings of frustration and alienation which may aggravate the traumatic impact of the sexual assault itself.

Furthermore, given their inability to give directions to prosecutors and their inactive role in proceedings, victims perceive a lack of transparency in the decision-making process. Victims will also feel dissatisfied with the trial process as they do not feel included. Under such circumstances, victims may regard sexual assault trials as being unfair, biased, and ineffective as they are prevented from voicing out the circumstances of the crime in a meaningful way for them.

Victims want to have a role in the court as they have an interest in the judgement of the court. This is especially the case for sexual assault trials where the defence of consent is commonly argued – a verdict of guilty will allow the victim to feel he/she was believed, whereas a not guilty verdict may lead to dire psychological consequences, resulting in the victim having an unjustified stigma.  By having a voice in the process, victims are heard and have the opportunity to have their experiences acknowledged as hurtful and wrong. Such validation is supported by victim interviewees who have described the opportunity to speak as a validation of one’s suffering.


Another key feature of the adversarial system that actively harms sexual assault victims is the use of sexual history evidence. Although reformations in Victoria have been made such that evidence of a victim-complainant’s sexual history is not permitted subject to the leave of the court, the practical reality is such that this evidence is widely used. Even where applications are made to allow the use of sexual history evidence, the applications are often purely formal and technical. With such a premise, sexual assault victims are actively harmed as they may be perceived as untruthful and unreliable due to their sexual history.


Nevertheless, caution should be taken when abandoning the adversarial process – the adversarial system is beneficial in its own right. Through cross-examination, inconsistencies in testimonies are revealed. The strict rules of evidence and procedure also prevent unreliable evidence from being heard and ensure greater continuity in court process. In order to improve the criminal justice process for sexual assault victims, legal representation for sexual assault victims and the use of non-adversarial principles should be advocated.

By introducing legal representation for sexual assault victims, victims will have greater support, feel more confident, and feel less traumatised. Acting as a bridge between the victim and courts, the victim through the legal representative, will be able to present views and concerns without having the ultimate decision-making power. Although such a reformation goes against adversarial principles which disregards victim participation through a legal representative, this mechanism will enable victims to be more participative in court. Nevertheless, legislators should ensure that the legal representation of sexual assault victims are only permitted based on narrow participation rights. By limiting the legal representatives’ rights to safeguarding the victims’ rights when testifying, the role of the legal representative can be likened to an amicus curiae, assisting the court in presenting the views of the victim. With recent proponents arguing for the possibility of legal representation for sexual assault victims within clearly defined parameters, it is likely that legal representation be afforded to victims whilst maintaining and balancing the rights of the accused.

In recent years, there has been a diversion from traditional adversarial criminal justice processes to non-adversarial approaches. Rather than considering non-adversarial processes as a soft alternative, principles such as restorative justice and therapeutic jurisprudence can be utilised to fill in the gaps that are lacking in a purely adversarial system. Given the varied proceedings involved in sexual assault cases, the ‘one size fits all adversarial system’ is limited in its effectiveness.

An example can be demonstrated in the use of restorative justice conferencing; by incorporating the values of communication and participation in a discursive and non-adversarial process, victims are given a voice and do not need to combat the fear of reliving the original experience at trial. Furthermore, as conferencing provides a greater emphasis on the accountability of the offender, the victim-focused process provides victims with the opportunity to receive unanswered answers about the offending, thereby allowing victims to better cope with the repercussions of the assault. In addition, as restorative justice conferencing usually occurs after an admission of some type, victims will not need to undergo the disabling experience of feeling that they, and not the Defendant, is the one on trial.


The adversarial system actively harms sexual assault victims due to the need for a traumatic experience of cross-examination, the passive role of victims and the use of sexual history evidence. Nevertheless, rather than dispensing with the adversarial system as a whole, reforms should be taken to mitigate such effects. Only if a balance is struck between the use of adversarial and non-adversarial process can the needs of sexual assault victims be met.

Sarah Tan is a third year Bachelor of Laws (Hons) student who will be completing her studies next year. Having grown up in Singapore, she has a keen interest in international arbitration. She is currently a seasonal clerk at Cornwall Stodart and hopes to pursue her passion for alternative dispute resolution prospects in the commercial law context. Sarah has also been involved in pro bono work at the Monash Oakleigh Legal Services and Law Society of Singapore Pro Bono Services Office.


  • Articles/ Books/ Reports

Braun, Kerstin, ‘Legal Representation for Sexual Assault Victims — Possibilities for Law Reform?’ (2014) 25(3) Current Issues in Criminal Justice 819

Bowden, Phoebe, Henning, Terese and Platter, David, ‘Balancing fairness to victims, city and defendants in the cross-examination of vulnerable witnesses: an impossible triangulation?’ [2014] 37 Melbourne University Law Review 539

Caenegem, William van, ‘Advantages and disadvantages of the adversarial system in criminal proceedings’ (1999) Bond University law Faculty Publications 69

Daly, Kathleen, ‘Restorative Justice and Sexual Assault: An Archival Study of Court and Conference Case’ (2006) 46(2) The British Journal of Criminology 334

Feldthusen, Bruce, Hankivsky, Olena and Greaves, Lorraine, ‘Therapeutic Consequences of Civil Actions for Damages and Compensation Claims by Victims of Sexual Abuse’ (2000) 12(1) Canadian Journal of Women and the Law 66

Garkawe, Sam, ‘The role of the victim during criminal court proceedings’ (1994) 17(2) UNSW Law Journal 595

Heath, Mary, The Law and Sexual Offences against Adults in Australia (Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault, Issues No 4, 2005)

Lievore, Denise, ‘Trends & Issues in crime and criminal justice – Victim credibility in adult sexual assault cases’ (2004) 228 Australian Institute of Criminology

Naylor, Bronwyn, ‘Effective Justice for Victims of Sexual Assault: Taking up the debate on alternative pathways’ (2010) 33(3) UNSW Law Journal 662

Zajac, Rachel and Cannan, Paula, ‘Cross-Examination of Sexual Assault Complainants: A Developmental Comparison’ (2009) 16 Psychiatry, Psychology and Law 36


  • Legislation

Criminal Procedure Act 2009 (Vic)


  • Other

Australian Law Reform Commission, Examination and Cross-Examination of Witnesses, Uniform Evidence Law Report 02 (8 February 2006)

Australian Women Against Violence Alliance, Sexual violence: Law reform and access to justice issues paper (17 May 2017) <;

Booker, Chloe and Perkins, Miki, ‘Top judges defend Victorian courts’ handling of child sex assault cases’, The Age (online), 23 March 2017 <;

Centre for Innovative Justice, ‘Innovative justice responses to sexual offending – pathways to better outcomes for victims, offenders and the community’ (Discussion Paper, RMIT University, May 2014)

Clark, Haley Catherine, A fair way to go – Criminal justice for victim/survivors of sexual assault (PhD Thesis, University of Melbourne, 2011)

 Fileborn, Bianca, ‘Sexual assault laws in Australia’ (Resource Sheet No. 1, Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault, February 2011)

Hulls, Rob, ‘Adversarial Justice: Pure Gold or Fool’s Gold?’ (Paper presented at Broadening Restorative Perspectives: An International Conference, MCG, 18 June 2013)

Hulls, Rob, ‘Justice reform: a better way to deal with sexual assault’, The Conversation (online), 23 November 2013 <;

Robertson, Josh, ‘Ex-wife of former One Nation adviser says being grilled over her rape ‘re-traumatised’ her’, ABC News (online), 17 July 2018 <;

Victorian Law Reform Commission, The history of the common law adversarial criminal trial and the experiences and needs of victims of crime, Victims of Crime: Consultation Paper (20 September 2015)

Victorian Law Reform Commission, The role of victims in the trial, Victims of Crime: Consultation Paper (20 September 2015)

University and Community Paralegal Clinics: A Decade of Collaboration between Indonesia and Australia

by Cate Sumner, Director, Law & Development Partners.

Cate Sumner and Nani Zulminarni, National Coordinator, PEKKA, Empowering Women Headed Households CSO, presented at the first of our public events on 5 December 2018 on  FEMINIST PERSPECTIVES ON FAMILY LAW AND CHILD MARRIAGES CASES IN THE COURTS OF INDONESIA. Cate and Nani  also presented at the University and Community Paralegal clinics in Indonesia at the International Journal of Clinical Legal Education Conference hosted by Monash University 28-30 November 2018. A more detailed analysis of women’s access to the family law courts in Indonesia can be seen at: The Second Decade – Looking Back, Looking Forward: Women’s Access to the Religious Courts of Indonesia, Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society, Faculty of Law,  Melbourne University The Second Decade – Looking Back, Looking Forward: Women’s Access to the Religious Courts of Indonesia No 16 (2018) by Cate Sumner with Nani ZulminarniThis blog post draws from their presentations. 


Cate Sumner, Nani Zulminarni and Rachel Spencer at Monash University’s newest law clinic in Melbourne’s CBD.


The hosting by Monash University of the International Conference on Clinical Legal Education and the first symposium of the Feminist Legal Studies  Group were occasions to reflect on how Monash University’s Law Clinics have contributed to improving women’s access to the family courts in Indonesia over the last decade in partnership with DFAT’s Australia Indonesia Partnership for Justice.

This year Monash University celebrates 43 years of running legal clinics that simultaneously support clinical legal education opportunities for students while delivering legal advisory services to thousands of citizens who would otherwise not be able to afford a lawyer. In November 2005, Monash University’s Family Law Assistance Programme (FLAP) legal clinic at the Dandenong Family Court of Australia welcomed judges and court administrators from Indonesia’s family courts for its Muslim citizens, the Religious Courts, for the first time.

Fast forward to 2010 and a visit to the Monash FLAP clinic from Indonesia’s Supreme Court Vice Chief Justice, judges, officials from Indonesia’s Agency for National Development Planning  and CSO activists involved in drafting a Supreme Court practice direction that provided the legal basis for legal aid posts in the Religious Courts. By 2018, the number of Religious Courts with legal aid posts has risen to 229  and the number of clients assisted at these legal aid posts in 2017 alone is over 185,000 women and men. As women are applicants in seven out of 10 cases brought to the Religious Courts, these legal aid posts are a service supporting women’s access to the courts for their family law cases, along with circuit court services in remote areas and the waiver of court fees for women and men facing financial disadvantage.  These legal aid posts have been funded through the Indonesian national budget process since 2011 and the numbers of women and men assisted will soon reach over a million people.

In 2014 and 2015, a number of Monash University Law Faculty travelled to Indonesia to collaborate with their peers from twelve Indonesian law schools to discuss clinical legal education methods and materials. This collaboration included the community paralegal clinics run by PEKKA, the largest female heads of household CSO in Indonesia. When PEKKA was established in 2001, it aimed to address the multi-faceted poverty women heads of household face in Indonesia, particularly in conflict areas, and initially focused on women’s economic empowerment. In 2006, PEKKA began its legal empowerment programme in response to the range of legal identity and family issues faced by the PEKKA community and in 2014 commenced its community legal clinics (Klinik Hukum or KLIK). Twelve years on, PEKKA paralegals have assisted over 150,000 women and children with birth and marriage certificates, other legal identity documents as well as support to access health insurance and education scholarships.

Nani Zulminarni, founder and Director of PEKKA, emphasised at the first symposium of the Feminist Legal Studies Group that, ”The Monash University student clinics as well as Women’s Legal Services Victoria were very important examples for PEKKA to observe as we thought about how to establish a community paralegal service in Indonesia five years ago.”

With more than a decade of collaboration and exchange between Indonesian university legal clinics, PEKKA community paralegal clinics and Monash University, a range of student mobility scholarships now open up new possibilities for knowledge sharing and research. Law students undertaking a research subject as part of their degree can apply for Monash University travel scholarships to enable them to undertake primary research overseas. Both the New Colombo Plan and ACICS Law Professional Practicuum  enable students to combine clinical legal interests and exchanges in Indonesia. 125 New Colombo Plan scholarship recipients were announced for 2019, including 14 students who will be based in Indonesia:

As Jazmine Elmolla, a recent Law graduate from Monash University commented on her time in Indonesia: “The most important thing was it gave me the opportunity  to see how research is carried out in the field. I observed that the process of conducting student legal clinics at the UIN [Universitas Islam Negeri] was the same as at Monash University but carried out with fewer resources. Same process, same goal, same enthusiasm.

 Connecting Monash University’s Law Clinics and student mobility grants, aimed at providing students with a global perspective and network, should enable new multi-disciplinary exchanges that benefit communities both in Australia and Indonesia. The next decade of collaboration between Indonesian and Australian universities and CSOs will probably explore technology solutions that will bridge the gap between student clinics offered in state/ provincial capital cities and community paralegals, like those working in PEKKA’s clinics, at village level. The Australia Indonesia Partnership for Justice supports a Women and the Law programme as part of its five-year collaboration with government and CSO partners in Indonesia.


Nani Zulminarni is the founder and Director of the largest female heads of household
organisation in Indonesia – PEKKA. For over 17 years, PEKKA has changed the way women heads of households are considered and the public services they can access for themselves and their children. In 2006 PEKKA developed a legal empowerment program in response to the marriage and family issues faced by the PEKKA community. Since then, PEKKA has trained over 2000 women as paralegals who, in turn, have assisted over 125,000 women and children with their legal issues. In 2014, PEKKA launched its legal aid clinics (KLIK), through which it provides legal advisory services to individuals at village level. Ibu Nani has received many awards in Indonesia and internationally. In 2014, she received the Lotus Leadership Award in the US for her commitment to improving the lives of young women in Asia.

For 25 years, Cate Sumner has worked in the Middle East, Asia and the Pacifc, focusing on access to justice, legal identity, human rights and judicial reform. Her career spans work with the international law frm Baker &amp; McKenzie in Cairo, the United Nations (as a Refugee Affairs Offcer in the Gaza Strip and as Legal Offcer in Jerusalem) and the International Development Law Organisation in their offices in Manila and Sydney. Cate established Law & Development Partners in 2005 to bring together law and development specialists working in Asia and the Pacifc. Its focus is on improving access to justice for women, people with a disability, and vulnerable children. A particular focus has been how these groups are able to access the formal justice system and civil registration systems. Cate has worked in Indonesia since 2005 as an adviser on access to justice and legal identity programmes and has contributed analytical and policy papers to a range of international organisations and policy think-tanks ranging from UN Women, the World Bank Justice for the Poor Series, the Centre for Global Development and the Lowy Institute for International Policy.


Family Violence, Gender Equality and Sustainable Development at Monash University

On World Human Rights Day, the last day of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, I wanted to share with you the text of the keynote address I gave at Monash University on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, on 27 November 2018.

This piece was published in Monash Lens today.

I’m keen to hear your thoughts, please comment below. Thanks!

Gender equality: it’s everyone’s business

On 6 December 1989, Marc Lépine walked into an engineering class at École Polytechnique de l’Université de Montréal. He separated women from the men in class and shouted to the women, “You are all feminists” as he shot the women, killing 14 and injuring 13. He then killed himself. Lépine, it appears, was disgruntled at how he perceived women were able to advance at the expense of men.

The anniversary of this event falls in what we now recognise in the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign. These 16 days are a UN campaign run from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day. These are the days when we galvanise action to end violence against women and girls around the world.

I want to be clear about what gender equality is. Gender equality means that women, men and gender-diverse people are able to participate fully in all spheres of Australian life, contributing to an inclusive and democratic society.

Gendered violence

Globally, the first systemic international review of the prevalence of violence against women found that gendered violence affected more than one third of all women. An average of 137 women across the world are killed by a partner or family member every day.

Across Australia, one in three Australian women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15. More than one in six women in Australia (16 per cent) aged over 18 has experienced physical violence at the hands of a current or former intimate partner since the age of 15 years. This compares with one in 17 men.

So far this year, 66 Australian women have died from violence, far more than the often-quoted figure of one women per week. In case you thought things were getting better, in 2017 this was 53 deaths. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 3.1 times more likely to report experiencing violence than non-Indigenous women. A disabled woman in Australia is twice as likely to experience violence from a cohabiting partner than a woman without a disability.

On university campuses, the picture does not, unfortunately, look better. The Australian Human Rights Commission showed us that about half of all university students in Australia reported being sexually harassed at least once in 2016, and 6.9 per cent of students were sexually assaulted on at least one occasion in 2015 or 2016. Female students were almost twice as likely to be harassed and more than three times as likely to be sexually assaulted than male students.

Men were most likely to be the perpetrators. Very disturbingly, students who identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander were more likely than women who did not identify as Indigenous to be sexually assaulted or harassed at university. Students with a disability and those who identify as bisexual or gay, lesbian or homosexual were more likely to report sexual harassment or assault in university settings than other students.

Students reported knowing the perpetrator about half of the time. Where they knew the perpetrator, more than two thirds of those harassed said that the perpetrator(s) of the most recent incident was a student from their university.

And these numbers, we know, do not represent the true picture of family violence; 82 per cent of women and a whopping 95 per cent of men who experienced violence by a current partner have never reported it to police.

Gender equality

In 2015, I worked as a policy and research officer at the Royal Commission into Family Violence. There I led the commission’s work on the intersection of family violence with family law and child protection. The commission produced a blueprint for identifying, responding to and reducing family violence in Victoria. The Victorian government has committed to an ambitious whole-of-government reform agenda to create the most comprehensive response to family violence in any jurisdiction, ever.

At the royal commission I learnt about the connection between family violence and gender inequality. In his opening address, counsel assisting the royal commission Mark Moshinsky stated:

“What causes family violence? … Some things are clearly known, and they can be a useful starting point. In the context of intimate partner violence against women, multi-country surveys indicate that in countries where men and women have more equal relationships, the prevalence of intimate partner violence against women is measurably lower. This suggests a strong correlation between gender imbalances and violence against women.”

In other words, there is a clear causal link between family and sexual violence and gender inequality. We tend to look at the causes of violence against women from a range of perspectives, including individual, relationship, community and societal level risk factors that led women to experience intimate partner and sexual violence (known as the “ecological model“).

Focusing on the big picture, what are the causes of family violence on the community and societal level?

At a community level, factors that support violence against women include:

  • weak community sanctions against violence;
  • limited access to sanctuary for abused women; and
  • poverty.

At a societal level, factors that support violence against women include:

  • where men are viewed by society as superior and of higher social status compared to women;
  • where men are socialised to believe that they are superior to women, should dominate their partners and endorse traditional gender roles;
  • where men have economic and decision-making power in households;
  • where women do not have easy access to divorce; and
  • where adults routinely resort to violence to resolve their conflicts.

These factors point us in the clear direction of gender equality when we as a community are trying to think about family and sexual violence prevention. If we want to make our community feel and be safer for women, it can’t just be gender and women’s specialists who do the work.

Nor can we see violence against women solely as a women’s issue. The same social structures that enable men to harm women also restrict men. Last month, the Men’s Project realised the first comprehensive study on the attitudes to manhood and the behaviours of young Australian men aged 18 to 30.

They found that among these young men, a set of beliefs that they brilliantly termed “The Man Box” is alive and well in Australia today. This set of beliefs within and across society places pressure on men to be a certain way:

Young men who most strongly agree with these rules reported poorer levels of mental health, engaged in risky drinking, were more likely to be in car accidents and to report committing acts of violence, online bullying and sexual harassment.

We need to think about the problems that men and women face not as competing priorities for change but as part of the same toxic social problem.

It’s all of our job to fix this.

Global evidence gathered to date clearly demonstrates that improvements in gender equality accrue significant economic benefits, including greater productivity, higher GDP and reduced government spending. Every day that we fail to deliver gender equality, we pay the economic price.

Sustainable development

Sustainable development connects and balances environment sustainability, social inequality and economic development. Sustainable development does address living within our environmental means, but it’s much more than that. It also enables us to consider what we need to create strong, healthy and just societies that meet the needs of diverse people. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by United Nations members in 2015 aim to promote economic prosperity and a fair go for all while safeguarding a thriving environment.

Sustainable development holds great potential for us in thinking about our most difficult social problems, including gender inequality and violence against women and girls.

We can look at gender equality across all of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Additionally, goal five relates specifically to gender equality and requires us to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”. The goal has nine targets associated with it:

What I think is most remarkable about sustainable development is that it requires us to work in interdisciplinary ways. By connecting social inequality with environmental sustainability and economic development, we have to think big and beyond the traditional disciplinary boundaries that tend to thrive within universities.

No matter what you do or who you are, it is your job to make our community safer for all of us, regardless of gender, sexuality, race or disability.

We can no longer claim that the task of addressing gender is someone else’s business. We need to be the change we want to see in the world.

This is an edited extract of a speech delivered by Dr Becky Batagol at the International Day For the Elimination of Violence Against Women, at Monash University.

This article was first published on Monash Lens. Read the original article

Our first public event: International Feminist perspectives on family violence and family law

We’re super excited to be hosting our first public event.
The Monash Feminist Legal Studies Group  invite those working in policy, practice and academia in family violence, family law, child protection, law and development, criminal law and immigration law to join us for lunch and critical conversations.

Professor Jennifer Koshan, University of Calgary

Join the Feminist Legal Studies Group from Monash Law for a lunchtime seminar series, featuring presentations by Ibu Nani Zulminanrni and Cate Sumner (PEKKA seminar), and Professor Jennifer Koshan (Faulty of Law, University of Calgary).
Wednesday 5 December 2018
Auditorium 1, 2 & 3 Ground Floor
Monash University Law Chambers
555 Lonsdale Street
Melbourne 3000
Seminar one – 11.30-12.30pm
‘Feminist perspectives on family law and child marriage cases in the
Courts of Indonesia’. Cate Sumner and Ibu Nani Zulminanrni (PEKKA)
Seminar two – 1-2pm
‘Family Violence before the Canadian Courts: The Exclusion of
Intersections, Impacts and Identities’. Professor Jennifer Koshan
A light luncheon will be provided to attendees.
Register here by 28 November.
More info.
Family violence cases present unique access to justice issues, especially when litigants are required to navigate multiple legal systems.
In Canada, parties affected by family violence may face legal issues encompassing numerous laws, including criminal, family, child protection, civil protection, housing, social assistance, immigration and refugee laws, each of which has its own legal processes.
The situation is even more challenging for Indigenous persons, who face jurisdictional complexities resulting from the different levels of government regulation to which they are subject. State actors, including judges, have generally not recognized the diffculties and dangers that may arise for litigants when these laws and legal systems intersect.
Particularly problematic is the fact that litigants may encounter competing demands in how they conduct themselves both in response to the violence and to the laws and processes governing that violence. Abusive (ex)partners may take advantage of these contradictions by mobilizing laws and legal systems against their partners.
This seminar will examine reported case law from several Canadian jurisdictions to explore the extent to which judges account for these challenges in their treatment of family violence and related legal issues.
Our initial fndings indicate that judges often ignore intersecting legal issues and systems or proceed on problematic assumptions about other laws and processes. They also fail to attend to the complexities presented by litigants’ identities, such as their Indigeneity and immigration status and tend to minimize the impact of domestic violence on women and children, thereby jeopardizing their safety and impeding their access to justice.
Professor Jennifer Koshan joined the Faculty of Law at the University of Calgary in 2000 after practising as Crown counsel in the Northwest Territories and serving as the Legal Director of West Coast LEAF, the British Columbia branch of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF).
Her teaching and research are in the areas of constitutional law, equality and human rights, state responses to violence, and feminist legal theory / activism.
In 2016, Jennifer was awarded a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Insight Grant and leads a team of five researchers studying access to justice in domestic violence cases at the intersection of multiple legal systems (with co-investigators Wendy Chan (Simon Fraser University), Michaela Keet and Wanda Wiegers (University of Saskatchewan) and Janet Mosher (Osgoode Hall Law School)).
Jennifer is a founding member of the Women’s Court of Canada feminist judgments project and continues to contribute to the legal work of LEAF.
This research was conducted in conjunction with Professor Janet Mosher and Professor Wanda Weigers.