Message from the Chair
Dear Friends and Colleagues
Reform of Family Law in Australia has already been the subject of a number of inquiries. This week, another inquiry moves to its next stage. The Senate Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Family Law System began hearings in Canberra on 17 February. Despite previous recommendations, reforms are still necessary. We know that one in four Australian women have experienced at least one incident of violence from an intimate partner since the age of 15, and one in 19 Australian men have experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former partner. It is not too surprising then that 50% of matters before the Family Court relate to family violence. Yet there are no appropriate mechanisms to address issues of family violence properly. It is therefore essential that the people on this Senate Committee have family violence awareness training in order to be able to properly assess witness statements and to analyse the nearly 600 submissions received. The Women’s Legal Services of Australia (WLSA) have drawn up a Plan for having the safety of women and children treated as a priority in family law. They recommend a strengthening of the family violence response in the family law system. In addition the Australian Law Reform Commission made 60 recommendations for reform in their 2019 Inquiry into the Family Law System. It is time to make the process of using the Family Court system more responsive and safer for women and children.