Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 October 2017, 16:02 GMT

Australia: Update to AUS33130.E of 4 November 1999 on the protection offered to victims of domestic violence; whether protection is extended to minors whose fathers who are alleged to have been violent to their ex-partners; whether there are laws against incest and sexual relations with minors; whether there are areas in the country where such activities are tolerated; consent required from custodial and non-custodial parents for international travel and issuance of passports for minors (2003 - April 2005)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 18 April 2005
Citation / Document Symbol AUS43462.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Australia: Update to AUS33130.E of 4 November 1999 on the protection offered to victims of domestic violence; whether protection is extended to minors whose fathers who are alleged to have been violent to their ex-partners; whether there are laws against incest and sexual relations with minors; whether there are areas in the country where such activities are tolerated; consent required from custodial and non-custodial parents for international travel and issuance of passports for minors (2003 - April 2005), 18 April 2005, AUS43462.E, available at: [accessed 17 October 2017]
Comments Corrected Feb 06
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

International human rights reports for 2003 and 2004 noted that violence against women continued to be an area of concern, predominantly within Aboriginal communities (AI 2004; Country Reports 2004, 28 Feb. 2004, Sec. 5; Freedom House 9 Sept. 2004). A 2004 federal government report commissioned by Partnerships, an Australian government initiative against domestic violence, estimated that about "353,600 women experienced some form of DV [domestic violence] in the year 2002-2003" (Australia 22 Oct. 2004).

With regard to state protection, according to an August 2003 electronic brief prepared by the Parliamentary Library, entitled Domestic Violence in Australia-An Overview of the Issues,

The states, not the Commonwealth, have the law enforcement responsibilities in relation to policing and prosecuting instances of domestic violence. Each state jurisdiction has its own laws and policies for responding to domestic violence (7 Aug. 2003).

The Domestic Violence & Incest Resource Centre (DVIRC), which is based in Victoria, noted that physical and sexual assault, as well as threats and stalking, are crimes reportable to the police (n.d.). Moreover, individuals may "apply for a court order" to protect them from future abuse or violence (DVIRC n.d.). The court order is named differently in various states; for instance in Victoria, the order is known as an "intervention order," while in South Australia it is called a "restraining order" (ibid.).

The federal government's role in combating domestic violence primarily involves prevention, particularly through its Partnerships Against Domestic Violence (Partnerships) initiative (Australia 7 Aug. 2003). As of August 2003, the Partnerships program had funded about 235 pilot projects related to domestic violence prevention (ibid.).


The Criminal Code Act outlines a number of penalties for sexual assault of minors, including sexual intercourse without consent and incest (Interpol n.d.). For instance, Section 92E from the Criminal Code states that "[a] person who engages in sexual intercourse with another person who is under the age of 10 years is guilty of an offence punishable on conviction, by imprisonment for 17 years" (ibid.).

With regard to protection afforded to minors from fathers who are alleged to have been violent toward their ex-partners, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's (AIHW) report Child Protection Australia 2003-04 outlined comprehensive information on child protection services, including reporting of child protection matters, differences among services offered by states and territories, family support services and care and protection orders (2005). According to the AIHW report,

all states and territories have some level of legislation requiring the compulsory reporting to community services departments of harm due to child abuse or neglect. The breadth of professionals and organisations mandated to report varies widely across the jurisdictions. For example, in Western Australia only a few professionals are mandated to report ... On the other hand, in the Northern Territory anyone who has reason to believe that a child may be abused or neglected must report this to the appropriate authority.

The types of child protection matters that are reported also vary across jurisdictions ... In addition to requirements under state and territory legislation, Family Court staff are also required under the Family Law Act 1975 to report all suspected cases of child abuse.

Police also have some responsibility for child protection in each state and territory, although the extent of their responsibility varies in each jurisdiction. Generally, they are involved in child abuse or neglect of a criminal nature, that is, where there is significant sexual or physical abuse, or any abuse that results in the serious injury or death of a child. In some states or territories there are protocols or informal arrangements whereby the police are involved in joint investigations with the relevant community services department.

Other areas of government also play a role in child protection. Health services support the assessment of child protection matters and deliver therapeutic, counselling and other services. The education sector in many jurisdictions undertakes preventive work with children and families, and also plays an important role in the identification of suspected harm. In some jurisdictions, childcare services are specifically provided for children in the child protection system (2005, 1).

Services for domestic violence victims

A number of government and non-governmental Websites provide lists of organizations that assist victims of domestic violence, including minors (Australia 7 Aug. 2003; ACSHP 4 Apr. 2005; South Australia 12 Apr. 2005). In South Australia, for example, the Website of Child and Youth Health (CYH), a state government-funded agency (ibid. 9 Feb. 2005), lists the following services available to domestic violence victims (ibid. 12 Apr. 2005):

The Second Story Youth Health Service (TSS)
- Central: 57 Hyde St, Adelaide
- South: 50a Beach Rd, Christies Beach
- North: 6 Gillingham Rd, Elizabeth
Contact TSS via the Youth Health line on 1300 13 17 19, or for mobile phone callers (08) 8303 1691, normal rates apply.

Police Attendance in South Australia Ph 131 444 or emergency Ph 000. Police Domestic Violence Section - Ph 8207 4807.

Domestic Violence Crisis Service (DVCS),
A service for women, providing professional counselling, referrals, links to women's shelters.
Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm
Ph: 1300 782 200.

Domestic Violence Helpline
Counselling for women and men: a service of Lifeline
Ph: 1800 800 098 (24 hour Helpline).

Kids Helpline
Ph: 1800 551 800 (24 hours).

Crisis Care
Weekends and public holidays 24 hours
All other days 4 pm to 9 am
Ph: 131611.

Nunkuwarrin Yunti, for Aboriginal women and men
Ph 8223 5011

Nunga Miminis Shelter,
9 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday 8223 2200

Migrant Women's Support and Accomodation Service
Ph 8346 9417

Women's Legal Service
Ph 8221 5553

Confronting Violence and Abuse Group for Men
Ph: 1800 800 098.

Domestic Violence Outreach Service (DVOS)
Ph: 8267 4830 (9am - 4pm).

Legal Services Commission

With regard to sexual assault, the Australasian College of Sexual Health Physicians (ACSHP) Website provides a list of referral services for states and territories, including South Australia (ACSHP 4 Apr. 2005). According to the ACSHP Website,

[t]here is one adult and two child rape and sexual assault services in South Australia, located in Adelaide. In rural South Australia forensic medical examinations of adults are generally undertaken by local general practitioners. Counselling is usually provided by the community health centers (ibid.).

International travel and passport issuance for minors

The government Website Passports Australia provides detailed information on the process to obtain children's passports (Australia n.d.a.; ibid. n.d.b.). With regard to consent, according to the 1938 Passports Act

before a passport may be issued to an unmarried child under 18, the written consent of all persons with a caring responsibility for a child must be provided. In most cases these are the natural parents who are named on the child's full birth certificate. If a parent is not named on a child's birth certificate they do not lose their parental rights and responsibilities. A natural parent's rights and responsibilities may only be removed by an Australian court (Australia n.d.a.).

The Passports Australia Website also states that if one parent refuses consent,

[t]he Passports Office cannot issue a passport without the consent of both parents unless a court order permitting the child to leave Australia or permitting a passport to be issued without full consent is obtained, or an Approved Senior Officer is satisfied that special circumstances apply.

The Australian Passport Information Service or an Australian diplomatic or consular mission overseas can provide further information if required (Australia n.d.b.)

Information on whether there are areas in the country where incest and sexual relations with minors are tolerated could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Amnesty International (AI). 2004. "Australia." Amnesty International Report 2004. [Accessed 13 Apr. 2005]

Australia. 2005. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Child Protection Australia 2003-04. Child Welfare Series No. 36. [Accessed 8 Apr. 2005]
_____. 22 October 2004. Office for Women. The Cost of Domestic Violence to the Australian Economy. [Accessed 11 Apr. 2005]
_____. 7 August 2003. Parliament of Australia, Parliamentary Library. "Domestic Violence in Australia-An Overview of the Issues." [Accessed 24 Mar. 2005]
_____. n.d.a. Passports Australia. "Children's Passports." [Accessed 8 Apr. 2005]
_____. n.d.b. Passports Australia. "Who Gives Consent?" [Accessed 8 Apr. 2005]

Australasian College of Sexual Health Physicians (ACSHP). 4 April 2005. "Sexual Assault Referral Services (Australia)." [Accessed 11 Apr. 2005]

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2004. 28 February 2005. "Australia." United States Department of State. Washington, DC. [Accessed 8 Apr. 2005]

Domestic Violence & Incest Resource Centre (DVIRC). n.d. "How Can the Law Protect Me?" [Accessed 11 Apr. 2005]

Freedom House. 9 September 2004. Freedom in the World 2004. "Australia." [Accessed 14 Apr. 2005]

Interpol. n.d. "Australia." Legislation of Interpol Member States on Sexual Offences Against Children. [Accessed 8 Apr. 2005]

South Australia. 12 April 2005. Child and Youth Health (CYH). "Relationship Violence." [Accessed 13 Apr. 2005]
_____. 9 February 2005. "Overview." [Accessed 14 Apr. 2005]

Additional Sources Consulted

Three oral sources did not respond to information requests within time constraints.

One oral source did not provide the information requested.

Internet: Human Rights Watch, World News Connection.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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