A woman with a young child is forced to fight to stay in her own home after her violent ex-husband is released from prison.
Alicia and Mick met through family friends and soon began a relationship. Alicia became pregnant with their first child and the couple moved in together. During Alicia’s pregnancy, Mick began using the drug ice and became increasingly aggressive towards her. After the birth of their son, Jake, Mick regularly assaulted Alicia.
One evening Mick attacked Alicia with a hammer, leaving Alicia in hospital with significant facial and head injuries. As a result of this incident, Mick was charged with attempted murder and was imprisoned for two years. Alicia broke off all engagement with Mick during this period, changed the locks on her home and began to rebuild her life with Jake.
When Mick was paroled, after serving his sentence, a worker from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) called Alicia and told her that she would have to relocate into a refuge with Jake for their safety. Alicia initially refused, as she had not had any communication with Mick since the attack and had taken all precautions to ensure Jake’s and her own safety. The department representative insisted that Alicia move into temporary housing and advised that, if she did not, they would apply for an order to remove Jake from her care.
Alicia and Jake had been living in refuge housing for a few weeks, away from their home, employment, family and support networks. When she told DHHS she wanted to go home, an application was made to remove the toddler-aged Jake from Alicia’s care. A WLSV child protection duty lawyer met Alicia at court and represented her.
Our lawyer advocated that Alicia had done everything in her power to ensure the safety of her home, including changing the locks and installing a security system. DHHS insisted to the court that a particular service should change the locks again and install a security camera, a process that the service provider claimed could take up to six months to complete. Our lawyer successfully demonstrated the injustice of this extended disruption to Alicia and Jake’s lives. She submitted that Alicia and Jake were the victims rather than the perpetrators of violence and that there was a clear record of the safety precautions that Alicia had already taken. The court ruled that Alicia and Jake could return to their home while they waited for the security service to install CCTV cameras in the coming months.