The Hon. Chief Justice Peter Quinlan,
Chief Justice of WA Supreme Court
Peter Damien Quinlan was appointed to the Supreme Court of Western Australia on 13 August 2018. He was appointed as a Judge of the Court, a Judge of the Court of Appeal and as the Chief Justice of Western Australia.
Hon. Wayne Stewart Martin QC AC,
former Chief Justice of Western Australia
The impact of family violence is devastating on victims, their children, their families and communities.
Although family violence occurs across cultural and socio-economic groups, the data suggests that the impact on Aboriginal Australians is significantly higher than on non-Aboriginal Australians. Dispossession and the injustices of the past have created cycles of intergenerational trauma, disadvantage and violence.
As a judge of the Supreme Court, I have travelled to regional Western Australia to preside over homicide trials involving the death of an Aboriginal person at the hands of their partner far too often. Substance abuse, especially misuse of alcohol, mental health issues and a prior history of violence are common features of such cases.
In serious instances of family violence, the courts will, and should, respond with appropriately severe sentences. However, the safety and well-being of victims is paramount, and in less serious cases the safety of victims in the medium to longer term is not always improved by a custodial sentence. Sometimes the best way to protect victims is to respond in a way which maximises the prospect of behavioural change and reduces the risk of reoffending, increasing the prospect that the family can reunite and live peacefully together. That outcome is in the best interests of all members of the family and of the community.
Intervention programs, like the AMHC, will enable men that use violence to live in supervised accommodation with access to rehabilitation programs. There is a body of evidence that the most effective programs are those that are culturally appropriate and are designed and delivered by Aboriginal people. The AMHC is such a program.
I am very pleased to support the AMHC and to serve as a patron.
I wish Devon and the team every success.
The Hon. Justice Stephen Thackray,
former Chief Judge of the Family Court of Western Australia
One in six Australian women experience violence at the hands of their partner. The effects of this on families can be seen every day in the Family Court, where violence is the most common denominator in disputes about children.
The impact of family violence on children is profound and lifelong. It severely affects both them and their carer, leading to poor physical and mental health, and is a leading cause of homelessness. The effects are particularly severe for aboriginal children, since aboriginal mothers are 32 times more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence than non-aboriginal mothers.
The long-term answer is not to be found in punishment, but in addressing the underlying causes and attempting to rehabilitate the perpetrators, who themselves have usually been victims of violence. There are programs seeking to achieve this goal in metropolitan areas but there are major gaps in the remote areas of our vast State. Culturally appropriate local services are desperately needed for aboriginal men who have inherited the whirlwind of generations of repression, dispossession and rampant racism.
I am proud to be associated with the Aboriginal Males Healing Centre and the highly professional drive being led by Mr Devon Cuimara and his Board to build a unique facility to house perpetrators who would otherwise end up in prison, separated from their families, their community and their land. It is a project worthy of support of government, private enterprise and citizens who want to build a better future for our precious aboriginal children.