family law act to provide better protection for children and families at risk of violence or abuse
following the introduction of the family law legislation amendment (family violence and other measures) bill 2011 to the senate on 14 june 2011, the senate granted an extension of time to the senate standing committee on legal and constitutional affairs on 15 june 2011 to report on its inquiry into the bill. the committee is to report to the senate by 16 august 2011.
The Bill was introduced into Parliament on 24 March 2011 by the Attorney-General, the Hon Robert McClelland MP and was passed by the House of Representatives on 30 May 2011.
The Bill proposes to amend the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) to provide better protection for children and families at risk of violence or abuse. The key proposed changes are to:
- Prioritise the safety of children in parenting matters;
- Include harmful behaviour in the definitions of ‘abuse’ and ‘family violence’;
- Require family consultants, family counsellors, family dispute resolution practitioners and legal practitioners to prioritise the safety of children;
- Improve reporting requirements so that the courts have better access to evidence of abuse and family violence; and Provide for State and Territory child protection authorities to become involved in proceedings where appropriate.
The explanatory memorandum to the Bill explains that the Bill responds to concerns regarding the limitations of the Act in protecting children and families at risk, which were raised in reports received by the Government into the 2006 reforms. The explanatory memorandum states that the amendments address these issues by strengthening the role of the family courts, advisers and parents in preventing harm to children while continuing to support the concepts of shared parental responsibility and shared care (introduced as part of the 2006 reforms), where this is safe for children.
The Bill has been the subject of much commentary and many submissions by interested parties, including submissions by the Family Law Council and the The Law Society of New South Wales.
Disclaimer : This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice. It is prudent to obtain legal advice from a family lawyer.