Put children first in family law reforms

Put children first in family law reforms

CHILDREN must be at the heart of decision making in any changes to the family law system, says a key support and advocacy group.

Save the Children has written to the parliamentary inquiry into the family law system outlining a number of proposed reforms.

CEO Paul Ronalds said it was a significant opportunity to make real change to a long-broken system.

“The focus of this inquiry should be on ensuring children are at the heart of decision-making and have a voice,” he said.

Currently the courts consider a child’s view during proceedings, but there is no requirement to provide the opportunity for a child to express their views.

Save the Children has written to the federal parliamentary inquiry into the family law system outlining a number of proposed reforms.

Similarly, independent children’s lawyers are not currently required to meet with the children whose interests they are representing.

“Our central concern is that the system is still failing to listen to the very people it is entrusted to represent and protect – children,” Mr Ronalds said.

The submission also recommends all MPs undertake family violence awareness training to ensure the inquiry itself does no harm.

The inquiry got off to a rocky start with advocacy groups calling on committee deputy chair Pauline Hanson to be replaced, given her call for an investigation into why “women lie” about domestic violence in divorce cases.

The Law Council has called for the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court to be better resourced and for easier access to legal aid for families.