On 21 September 2018 senior staff of Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand (GSANZ) appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs at a public hearing into the practice of dowry and the incidence of dowry abuse in Australia.
This inquiry was established in June amid growing concerns about cases of dowry-related violence.
Left to Right: Senator Louise Pratt (Committee Chair), Julian Hill MP, Stella Avramopolous (CEO Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand).
GSANZ was one of eight parties selected to give verbal evidence to the hearing in Melbourne following a joint submission with inTouch Multicultural Centre against Family Violence to the inquiry.
At the hearing, GSANZ CEO, Stella Avramopoulos and Laura Vidal, Policy & Research Specialist argued that dowry abuse be included in the definition of family violence to provide increased protections for individuals at risk.
"The whole service system needs to respond to family violence in an integrated way, so dowry abuse needs to be named to ensure that services are available and accessible.
"Including dowry abuse in the definition of family violence is the first step towards empowering the women whose lives have been damaged as result of these practices.
“We do not believe that the system of dowry itself is exploitative—but it can become exploitative when practised in a way that involves force, fraud, coercion, threats and violence.”
The Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs is expected to hand a final report back to the Senate Thursday 6 December, 2018.
Listen to The World Today interview with Laura Vidal advocating for increased protections for individuals at risk of dowry abuse.