On 5 May, the SA Family Law Pathways Network hosted another sell-out Annual Forum at the Adelaide Pavilion in Veale Gardens titled, “Working with Family Violence: A Forum for Workers in the Family Law Sector”. The day examined family violence from a very personal perspective so as to assist family law professionals to better meet their client’s needs.
The day started with a Welcome to Country by Mikey O’Brien, who reminded us of the importance of supporting each other, especially through challenging times. Our keynote speaker Arman Abrahimzadeh, co-founder of the Zahra Foundation Australia, provided moving and confronting insight into living with family violence and the difficulties his family faced with the legal system following the death of his mother. Delegates were keenly reminded of the long-term impact and trauma on women and children who experience family violence.
Heidi Ehrat, Senior Researcher of the Coroners Court then provided her unique perspectives into the lessons to be learned by the family law sector from the deaths due to family violence.
Following lunch, a panel of experts including Magistrate Lynnette Duncan (Domestic Violence Court); Judge Peter Cole of the Adelaide Federal Circuit Court, David Fryer, In House Counsel (Family Law Project); Dr Sherrie Ryan (Port August Family Relationship Centre); Ashley Kent, (Legal Services Commission), Theresa Clark (Relationships Australia SA) and Debra Spizzo (WDVCAS) talked about the professional challenges in dealing with clients experiencing domestic violence. They spoke in particular about the conflict between Family Court Orders and Intervention Orders and whether it can ever be appropriate to mediate where there is or has been family violence.
Closing remarks were made by Ashleigh Saint as representative of the Federal Attorney General, who summarised the vast amount of dedicated work the sector is doing to address family violence in our community.
The feedback from the day was overwhelmingly positive, particularly in relation to Arman Abrahimzadeh’s very personal story.