By Gianna Huesch
With the 2016 Federal Election fast approaching, the Law Council of Australia has released a policy platform document outlining its key confirmed policy positions on a number of national issues, including family law reform.
The Law Council, which acts and speaks on behalf of more than 60,000 lawyers across the country, sets out the key areas for improvement of the law and policy, where the national professional body considers change is imperative in the national interest and in order to promote justice within the Australian community.
In relation to family law, the Law Council outlines its members’ concerns regarding under-resourcing and staffing of the Family Courts and Federal Circuit Courts:
“The Law Council remains concerned that Judges in the federal court system are under significant pressure due to increasing workloads, the stressful nature of high-conflict proceedings, the absence of uniformity in access to judicial pensions and the failure to quickly fill all judicial vacancies as they occur.”
In contrast to recent assurances from the Attorney-General that our family court system is adequately resourced and staffed, the Law Council outlines how “judicial vacancies result in unacceptable delays in the listing of matters, particularly in some registries of the Family Court”. The Law Council points out that judicial vacancies arising due to judges’ retirements “can be planned for well in advance of each retirement”, and that retirements due to illness can also often be planned for.
The Law Council calls on the next government to urgently address the problem of inadequate resourcing for courts dealing with family law matters and the “present capacity constraints”:
“The provision of adequate judicial resourcing for both the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court, and the timely filling of judicial vacancies in these courts, are matters requiring urgent attention.”
At present, it notes, delays in the system are potentially “placing children and their parents at risk in matters involving family violence”.
Therefore, the Law Council calls on political parties to “properly fund courts dealing with family law matters, as well as family violence support services”. It also reiterates the need for the incoming government to “develop and implement domestic violence strategies particularly for vulnerable groups” and to come up with measures that will help reduce the widespread problem of family violence.
You can read the Law Council’s policy platform document here: http://www.lawcouncil.asn.au/lawcouncil/images/LCA_2016_Federal_Election_Policy_Platform.pdf
Do you need help with a family law matter? Please contact Cristina Huesch or one of our solicitors here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400. Your first no-obligation conference is free of charge, so please call us today to make an appointment to discuss how we may help you.