FRSA’s submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Australia’s Family Law System was published on 23 January.
With the Parliamentary Inquiry following close on the heels of the Australian Law Reform Commission review of the Family Law System, FRSA’s submission has drawn heavily on our contribution to that review, which represented members’ views, experiences and knowledge.
In our submission we urged the Committee to keep the best interests of the child at the forefront of its deliberations. We argued that it is vital family law professionals take into consideration the experiences and perspectives of children by ensuring their participation in family law processes, as well as their safety.
Other key points covered in our submission include:
- Family and relationship services are well equipped to provide whole-of-family, multidisciplinary supports across the lifecycle and in close co-operation with family law services. We recommended that changes to the family law system be considered through the lens of a public health model that prioritises prevention and early intervention.
- Support for the principle of improving information sharing between the family law, family violence and family protection systems in order to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of children and families at risk. Getting the balance right between client confidentiality and the courts’ need to have relevant information is critical.
- Support for the idea of mandatory Family Dispute Resolution (when appropriate) prior to using the courts to resolve property and financial matters. Family Dispute Resolution provides a more affordable and non-adversarial option for families. It is a particularly compelling option for matters involving small asset pools, and it can help parties to consider the needs of children in relation to property and financial decisions.
We will keep readers updated as the inquiry progresses over the coming months. The parliamentary committee is due to report on 7 October 2020.