An inquiry into family violence has heard of the insidious and pervasive nature of the problem in Australia, in an opening statement from the peak national body representing the legal profession.
The Law Council has told a parliamentary inquiry into the issue the COVID-19 pandemic has served to heighten and magnify the prevalence of family violence.
President Pauline Wright said the family courts were not adequately resourced to deal properly with violence and its effects, in her written submission to government.
"From the absence of a court environment in which litigants are, and feel, consistently safe, through to the inadequacy of resources to investigate allegations and risk and the inaccessibility of victim support services, the system is comprehensively underfunded," Ms Wright wrote.
"A significant number of inquiries have looked into this issue and whilst some progress has been made, many recommendations have been ignored.
"It is a key role of the Australian parliament and the government to ensure that the Australian family law system is properly designed and resourced to deliver justice and to provide protection for victims of family violence."
Support services EveryMan and Toora Women Inc have joined forces to address family violence in Canberra.
EveryMan coordinator Simon Port said there had been a significant increase in demand from support services for violence prevention programs since the onset of COVID-19.
"COVID19 has put a lot of pressure on families because of the confinement of being together a lot more than what they have previously been used to. Normal activities have reduced, and financial pressures on families have increased," he said.
The Building Respectful Families Program seeks to minimise the effects on children living in disruptive environments.
"Through the conflict resolution and parenting modules participants begin to understand the effects that their abuse has on children in the home, where their reactivity comes from and what their triggers are," Mr Port said.
"We discuss the impact of trauma and violence on children and commit to a non-hurtful and strength-based approach to parenting."
Family violence incidents have been climbing in the ACT despite a steep drop in 2017.
There have been 1522 family violence offences since January, with 374 of reported cases apprehended by police.
Legal Aid family violence team leader Margie Rowe said coronavirus lockdown had exacerbated pre-existing abuse in relationships.
Ms Rowe said while fewer people sought Legal Aid during lockdown, likely due to the increased difficulty in accessing services, it had since seen a big increase in people seeking help with family violence orders.
"We're speaking with a lot of clients who are recognising that they've been in an abusive relationship which has often come to a head during the COVID lockdown period," she said.
Ms Rowe said people living in closer quarters more than before had exposed them to higher rates of abuse.
"Lockdown brought people together in the same area with their children, it put a lot of tension on people, financial stresses, homeschooling children and job losses sometimes," she said.
"I think that was the perfect storm."
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