The Greens welcome the announcement of family law amendments aimed at putting children’s welfare first in family law matters.
After years of inaction, and unnecessary, damaging inquiries, we welcome the government’s willingness to listen to the experts instead of the political grandstanding that has traumatised survivors of family and domestic violence and provided a platform for hate and misinformation.
Fair, child-safety focussed outcomes can only be achieved with adequate resources, yet both the Federal Circuit and Family Court and the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children remain woefully underfunded.
As stated by Greens leader in the Senate and spokesperson on women Senator Larissa Waters
“Finally, after years of wasted time and damaging misinformation campaigns – including Pauline Hanson’s toxic family law inquiry – we may start to see real improvements to the family law system.
“The evidence has repeatedly shown that gendered violence is a core problem at the heart of the family law system, and that children frequently bear the brunt of violent relationships and protracted legal matters.
“The sector has long called for removal of the presumption of equal shared parenting, strengthening the obligations of Independent Children’s Lawyers (ICLs) and family report writers, and definitions of family that respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and kinship. We are pleased to see the Labor government listening to the experts and implementing these changes to centre children’s safety.
“Children’s safety must be a key consideration in all situations, including matters under the Hague Convention. We know that many perpetrators of family and domestic violence have been able to weaponise the court process to continue their abuse and control. The proposed amendments will give the courts more capacity to identify and prevent systems abuse, and help to keep women and children safe.
“The Greens will review the proposed amendments and work with stakeholders and the government to ensure a strong, fair, and safe family law system.
“Failing to adequately fund the courts and frontline family and domestic violence services has created delays and gaps in the system that continue to put women and children at risk.
“The only way to strengthen the outcomes and timeliness of family law matters is to ensure they are heard by experienced, specialist judges. Funding for judicial training, as well as wraparound support services including safe rooms, risk screening and triaging programs, and cultural liaison workers are essential to the success of any reform.
“The National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children, released last year to great fanfare, has laudable goals. But ambitious aims need to be backed with funding.
“The women’s safety sector has repeatedly called for a $1B per year investment to ensure funding meets demand, and the Greens support these calls. The Government’s budget response was nowhere near this amount, leaving frontline services about $700m short.
“If the Attorney General wants these reforms to work, his government needs to stump up the funding for them to do so, as well as properly resourcing frontline domestic, family and sexual violence support services and prevention programs including age-appropriate education.”