Good Shepherd backs strong measures to tackle forced marriage

8 June 2018

Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand welcomes today’s announcement by the Australian Labor Party (ALP) to tackle early and forced marriage in Australia.

The commitment by the ALP would de-link support for victims from criminal reporting to the Australian Federal Police, introduce forced marriage protection orders (as is the case in the United Kingdom) and establish a centralised coordination unit at the federal level.

This approach reflects international best practice and goes beyond the constraints of the criminal justice system.

“It will be a game changer,” said Stella Avramopoulos, CEO, Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand.

Around the world, 650 million women were married as children, and without consent. And we know that early and forced marriage is an emerging issue in Australia. It affects families across our community and has a disproportionate and long-term impact on women and girls.

Good Shepherd has long called for prevention and early intervention measures to address forced marriage. “I look forward to working with government at all levels to address forced marriage in Australia,” added Ms Avramopoulos. “Yesterday I announced Good Shepherd’s commitment to addressing forced marriage through innovative service responses that work with families. We will draw on expertise from Scandinavia to further develop this approach.”

“The ALP’s position is a significant step forward in the implementation of a robust rights-based response,” said Laura Vidal, Good Shepherd’s forced marriage specialist and 2016 Churchill Fellow. “We know that some women and girls will report to the police, but most won’t. We have a responsibility to ensure their safety. To be effective, we need measures that include civil protection and supports that draw on family violence approaches.”

Listen to Laura Vidal on Radio National's report on forced marriage and the ALP's announcement.
8 June 2018

Forced marriage was the topic of Good Shepherd’s “Good Conversations” forum on Thursday, 7 June 2018 at Melbourne Town Hall.