Legal Aid No Funds For Family Court
In the Family Court, there is no rule that prevents a victim of family violence from being cross-examined by (usually her) aggressor. This is happening more often because Legal Aid Victoria cannot afford to fund all needy people in the Family Court. A funding decision has been made that if one person is self-represented, then funding will not be available for their spouse partner.
Funding Decision In Family Court with Consequences
One consequence of this is that victims of violence are able to be cross-examined by the person who has abused them, if that person is self-represented.
To be cross-examined in the witness box is stressful for anybody. To be cross examined by someone with whom you have dysfunctional personal involvement, who has abused you, and therefore has absolutely no respect for you, should not be allowed to happen.
The Family Court judges are powerless to prevent this from happening, as the rules of evidence permit it. And whatever their personal assessment of the situation, a judge cannot intervene to assist one person more than the other when they are both in court without a lawyer.
The Problem Needs Fixing
As a family lawyer I am aware of this dreadful consequence of a cost cutting measure.
This situation requires political decision-making to fund state legal aid bodies. Nothing else will fix the problem. George Brandis and Robert Clark, over to you.