MEDIA RELEASE - SENATE INQUIRY SHINING A LIGHT ON DOWRY ABUSE - 6 SEPTEMBER 2018

With Chair of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee Senator Louise Pratt and Julian Hill MP.

Today Labor representatives held a roundtable with community stakeholders to discuss the Senate Inquiry into the practice and incidence of dowry abuse in Australia.

This Senate Inquiry is underway throughout 2018 to conduct a thorough investigation into the practice and the prevalence of dowry in Australia, as well as its potential links to family violence.

Important feedback has been received from members of the community and peak bodies through the Senate Inquiry process.

This Senate Inquiry is helping to raise awareness about the issue in the wider community, and provide an avenue for community members to have their voices heard.  

Michelle Rowland represents a large and growing Sub-continent population in her electorate of Greenway in North West Sydney and has received representations from local women’s support services, legal support services and constituents about dowry abuse.

“It’s important that the Australian Parliament examines the need for a comprehensive national response to dowry abuse,” Michelle Rowland MP said.
 
“Dowry abuse and family violence have a terrible impact on women and families. It is crucial the government does all it can to reach out to women in need and support families in our community.

“Labor is passionate about ensuring all women from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds are treated with respect and can live free from all forms of violence, including in the form of dowry abuse,” Ms Rowland said.

“The practice of requiring dowries can result in abuse and have devastating impacts on women and their families. Despite laws prohibiting it in Australia, we know this practice still exists,” Chair of the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee Senator Louise Pratt said.

“We therefore are looking closely at what needs to be done to stop dowry abuse,” Ms Pratt said.

Julian Hill raised the issue of dowry abuse in Parliament which generated a strong community response. This helped begin the conversation and pave the way for the inquiry to be initiated.

“Women are not property – cultural or religious practices that suggest so are not welcome in Australia. I believe the practice of dowry is completely inappropriate in modern Australia,” Julian Hill MP said.
 
“Dowry perpetuates a culture of ownership of women, which runs against the cause of equality. Dowry extortion has been recognised as a direct cause of family violence and horrific murders and suicides. The detailed submissions received from across Australia show the extent of concern and point the way to changes that may be needed in family law, criminal law, migration systems and policing responses,” Mr Hill said.

The final report is due back to the Senate on Thursday, 6 December 2018.  
 
Labor looks forward to the outcomes of this important inquiry and relevant actions arising from the inquiry where necessary.