Brandis finds $468m to keep families clear of court
Attorney-General George Brandis will today announce $468 million to fund family relationship centres and other family law services that are aimed at keeping warring couples out of the courts.
The money comes as the government embarks on the first comprehensive review of the family law system since the start of the Family Law Act in 1976. The money will be used to fund family law services “along current lines” for a further three years, ahead of the outcome of the review in 2019.
The family law system review is an opportunity to deliver “transformational, once-in a generation change”, Senator Brandis will say. The review is being conducted by the Australian Law Reform Commission.
“The entirety of the family law system, legislation and services, is within its scope, with a particular focus on ensuring that the family law system prioritises the best interests of children, addresses family violence and child abuse, and supports families to resolve their disputes early and safely,” he says in his draft speech.
The government is set to trial a multidisciplinary panel to resolve family law disputes, starting in Parramatta in Sydney’s west next year.
The system is aimed at resolving disputes more quickly, informally and at less expense.
The hearings will also link into other services to support families, such as counselling, Senator Brandis will tell a Family and Relationship Services Australia conference today in Melbourne.
While courts are appropriate for large corporations and well-resourced individuals, the legal system tends to harm rather than help families because its processes “embed conflict”.
“It is time for the system to evolve and to reduce the conflict as much as possible, including by intervening early and offering therapeutic services as an adjunct to dispute resolution,” he will tell the conference.
“Recourse to the legal system should be the very last resort for a very small number of separating families,” he will say.
Family relationship centres have seen more than 720,000 clients since their introduction by the Howard government in 2006.
This is an article from The Australian posted on 23 November 2017.
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