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Professor Thea Brown corrects errors in report

Professor Thea Brown Corrections to a publication and media release from Monash University

This is one of the pieces of 'research' that the Government is using as a basis for it's Family Law amendments and roll-back but none of the opposition MP's seem bothered with any truth in matters they just hop on the political party bandwagon… A picture of lemmings comes to mind.

Corrections released to a publication and media release from Monash University.

The following statement seeks to correct the public record with respect to some minor and inadvertent inaccuracies that were contained in the book  Child Abuse and Family Law that was published in 2007 by Allen and Unwin and co-authored with Professor Thea Brown.  The following material statement also seeks to correct the media release that was issued by Monash University's Media and Communications Unit in August 2009.

Incorrect statements in the Book
On page 20 of the book, there is a statement which reads as follows:

Domestic violence is increasingly reported as a cause of partnership breakdown, with two thirds of couples in Australia attributing the separation to domestic violence and one third to severe domestic violence, (FLPAG, 2001).

The statement is incorrect.

The book cites a 2001 FLPAG Report as the source of this data.  However, the material relied on was not taken from the FLPAG Report itself, but rather was drawn from a verbal presentation to the FLPAG Committee on which Professor Brown served.
Professor Brown is aware that the presented data was drawn from another AIFS study, the "Spousal Violence and Post Separation Financial Outcomes Study", which itself used the data base of an earlier study, the "Divorce Transitions Project" to identify suitable families to interview.
The presentation to the FLPAG Committee suggested that figures for family violence accompanying or as a cause of divorce identified in the earlier Divorce Transitions Project study (Wolcott and Hughes 1999 Towards understanding the reasons for divorce, Working Paper 20, Australian Institute of Family Studies) were an underestimation of the true situation showing that some 65% of women and 55% of men stated domestic violence was part of their former failed relationship, however the couples did not attribute their separation to domestic violence, the presenters to the FLPAG Committee did.  Professor Brown failed to make this important distinction in the book.

The statement in the book states (and again references the 2001 FLPAG Report) that one third of couples in Australia attribute their separation to severe domestic violence.  This statement is incorrect.  The presenters to the FLPAG Committee (not the couples themselves) assessed one-third of the domestic violence experienced by 65% of women and 55% of men in failed relationships as severe.  Thus, it is at most 33% of 65% of couples whose separation could be attributed to severe domestic violence, and not "one-third" of such couples as stated in the book.
Secondly, on page 111 of the book there is a statement which reads "some 30% of all marriages in Australia fail because of domestic violence".  This statement is also incorrect and the figures that have been relied upon in making this statement are incorrect.

Incorrect statements in the 2009 media release
The 2009 media release is incorrect for the same reasons as noted above.

In particular the media release is incorrect in so far as it states that:
(a) "earlier studies suggest that domestic violence is the major cause of parental separation in 66% of parental relationship breakdown"; and
(b) it is the couples themselves who nominated violence as the reason for their separation.  As noted above, it is the researchers/ presenters to the FLPAG Committee who made this assumption, not the couples.

The original source

Family violence and family law in Australia
The experiences and views of children and adults from families who separated post-1995 and post-2006

    Thea Brown, Dale Bagshaw
    Attorney-General's Department

Read the full text
PDF   Family violence and family law in Australia

08 July 2010This report was commissioned by the Commonwealth Attorney-General's Department in early 2009 to examine the impact of family violence, which had occurred before, during and or after parental relationship breakdown, on post-separation decision making and arrangements as viewed by children and parents. More specifically the brief was to discover parents and childrens perspectives on:

1. The effect that a history of or existence of violence within the relationship has on the decisions that people make about accessing the courts and dispute resolution services

2. The effect that a history of or the existence of violence within the relationship has on the decisions people make while they are at court and at dispute resolution services

3. The effect that a history of or the existence of violence within the relationship has on post-separation parenting arrangements.

The project surveyed a broad sample of parents and children to examine how family violence has affected their access to courts and dispute resolution services, and post-separation parenting arrangements.

    Family Violence and Family Law in Australia Volume 1 [DOC 4MB]
    Family Violence and Family Law in Australia Volume 1 [PDF 3MB]


    Family Violence and Family Law in Australia Volume 2 [DOC 5.99MB]
    Family Violence and Family Law in Australia Volume 2  [PDF 5.93MB]

Reseachers: Associate Professor Dale Bagshaw and Professor Thea Brown (Co‐Directors)

with
Dr Sarah Wendt, Dr Alan Campbell, Dr Elspeth McInnes, University of South Australia
Beth Tinning, James Cook University
Dr Becky Batagol, Dr Adiva Sifris, Dr Danielle Tyson, Monash University
Dr Joanne Baker and Ms Paula Fernandez Arias, Research Assistants

Executive Secretary - Shared Parenting Council of Australia
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I went to the Monash site and follwed the tag on the correction page to "correction of public record".

There was just one publication listed - that of Brown et al. What a great achievement…
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