Senate debates

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Questions without Notice

Family Law Review

2:27 pm

Photo of George BrandisGeorge Brandis (Queensland, Liberal Party, Attorney-General) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you for the acknowledgement of this very important initiative. The government has decided to undertake the first comprehensive review of the family law system not just on the Family Law Act but on the entire family law system, including the way the system overlaps with the child protection systems of the states and territories. The Family Law Act came into operation in January 1976. We've asked Professor Helen Rhoades, a much respected expert in the field, to undertake that review. She will be supported by two other commissioners: former Deputy Chief Justice of the Family Court John Faulks, and a very eminent family law practitioner, Mr Geoffey Sinclair.

The fact that we're undertaking such a comprehensive review must not arrest or abate more immediate needs for law reform. There are two the government identified and announced in the budget, one of which you have referred to–that is, parenting managing conferences. This is a pilot program, and I'm at pains to make that point. We are running two pilot programs. The first is to be commenced in the Parramatta registry in the middle of next year, and the second is to be commenced at a location yet to be announced at the end of next year. We are piloting a new mode for the resolution of disputes over children. It is paramount that the interests of children, when parents are separating, are treated with all the seriousness, care and concern that they deserve to be treated with. These are pilot programs. They don't detract from the more comprehensive review that you've referred to.


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