Women’s Legal Service Queensland (WLSQ) says the meagre three week consultation on radical proposed changes to Australia’s family court system is woefully deficient.
Last Thursday the Attorney-General introduced two bills into the House which are designed to amalgamate the Family and Federal Circuit Courts.
The Government announced its plans to rush the Bills through Parliament so courts merge on the 1st January 2019. The senate voted for a longer reporting period until April 2019 to allow consideration of the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) wholesale review of the family law system to hand down its report. The Government controlled Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee changed this setting a rash submission closing date of 14 September.
WLSQ is pleading with the PM to step in and force proper consultation so the interests of vulnerable, high users of the court system such as domestic violence victims may be considered.
“These are radical, extreme and potentially dangerous changes to our family law system as the proposed model moves from a specialist approach to adopting a generalist court model and yet the Government appears determined not to listen to experts,” Angela Lynch CEO of Women’s Legal Service Queensland said.
“They expect us to review over 600 pages of really complex legislation in just three weeks. That is fanciful.”
“The reality is you can’t separate family law and family violence. The fact this reform is being put forward without speaking to the people who deal with victims going through the system is frightening,”
“Victims turn to the family law system for their and kid’s safety. Our message to the PM is that there has been a failure to properly consult with experts and it’s time he stepped in if domestic violence is actually a national priority.”
“Victims of family violence and their children are the losers out of this terrible process. Unfortunately, this can mean devastating outcomes.”