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Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Family Law System

The submission to the inquiry of the Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Family Law System was prepared by the Executive of the Family Law Section, with assistance from the Business Law Section.

On 25 September 2019, the Law Council provided the Joint Select Committee with preliminary submissions focused on the scope of the inquiry. This follow-up submission engages directly with the Terms of Reference and provides substantive views on the matters before the Joint Select Committee.

The Law Council and its Family Law Section (FLS) are committed to promoting the administration of justice and development of meaningful policies and law reform in the best interests of the families, children and community we serve. This inquiry provides a critical opportunity to examine all options for holistic reform with full stakeholder consultation and engagement.

Where parties cannot resolve matters themselves following relationship breakdown, the Australian family law system must deliver justice in the form of multiple avenues by which a timely, efficient and cost-effective resolution of disputes can occur and which provides protection for the vulnerable and for victims of family violence. However, there will always be a need for a properly resourced and functioning court system to provide both a forum within which disputes can be resolved and a just means by which those not otherwise able to be resolved, can be determined.

To this end, the Law Council views the proper resourcing of the court system as a critical issue requiring urgent consideration. Those in government have a duty to ensure the FCoA and FCC are properly resourced, and the Joint Select Committee must not overlook the dire need for more resources for the family law system.

The Law Council considers recent attempts to restructure the family law system as shortsighted, and intended improvements are better and more effectively achieved by proper funding of the existing court system, timely appointment of judicial officers, improved case management, more intensive use of Registrars, proper funding of Legal Aid, and/or the structural reforms to the family law courts system put forward in the Semple Report and by the New South Wales Bar Association.

You can read the full submission below.

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