NOW'S OUR CHANCE TO CHANGE THE FAMILY LAW SYSTEM – WE NEED YOU!

A 2016 Family Law Council report stated that over 50% of children’s matters in the family law courts involve domestic violence and safety concerns for children. The Family Law system should be keeping children and victims of domestic violence safe from risk.
For the first time since 1975, the Family Law is undergoing a comprehensive review.
Now is the time to make a submission in support of greater protections for children and victims of domestic violence.
Gowland Legal will make a submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission (The Commission)’s review into the Family Law system in support of better protection for children and victims of domestic violence.
In our submission we will recommend the implementation of the Five Step Plan to Put Safety First in Family Law.
We are calling on members of the Inner West Mums community to make submissions to the ALRC in support of Family Law reform that protects the rights of mothers, children and victims of domestic violence.
WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE
Gowland Legal supports the five key steps of the Safety First in Family Law plan, prepared by the Women’s Legal Service (WLS) and backed by Rosie Batty.
The five-step program is a pathway for how the Family Law can be reformed to provide better protection from risk for women and children:

  1. Develop a specialist pathway for domestic violence cases in family courts
  2. Reduce trauma and support those who are most at risk of future violence and death
  3. Intervene early and provide effective legal help for the most disadvantaged
  4. Support women and children to financially recover from domestic violence
  5. Strengthen the understanding of all family law professionals on domestic violence and trauma

Gowland Legal also supports these key recommendations by the WLS to improve protections for women and children in the Family Law system:
. Early risk assessment by specialist domestic violence workers;
. Removing the language of “equal shared time” and “equal shared parental responsibility” to shift the focus on safety for children;
. Improve the family system for clients of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds;
. Fully fund and effectively implement and enforce the National DVO Scheme in Australia;
. Protect domestic violence victims from cross-examination by abusive ex-partners who are self-represented;
. Implement better processes for child protection agency involvement in Court proceedings;
. Implement and fund a National Legally-Assisted Family Dispute Resolution Program for domestic violence cases supported by specialist domestic violence lawyers and domestic violence and trauma informed practitioners;
.More funding to legal assistance services including community legal centres, specialist women’s legal services, domestic violence prevention and legal services and ATSI legal services;
. Amend the Family Law Act so the Court must consider the impact of domestic violence on the ability for victims to contribute; and
. Domestic violence and cultural competency training for Judicial Officers, Court Staff and Family Law professionals.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Ensure your voice is heard by making a submission to The Commission * before 7th May 2018 in support of the changes proposed in the Safety First in Family Law plan. You can make a submission in response to specific questions in the Issues Paper, to any of the background material or analysis, or any other matter within the Terms of Reference.
Upload your submission publicly via The Commission’s website here: https://www.alrc.gov.au/content/family-law-system-ip48-submission
For confidential submissions, mark as “Confidential” and post to:
The Executive Director
Australian Law Reform Commission
GPO Box 3708
SYDNEY NSW 2001
SUBMISSIONS CLOSE ON THE 7TH OF MAY 2018.
If you need assistance with your submission, we want to help! We are offering members of the Inner West Mums FB group free half-hour appointments at our Dulwich Hill practice where a member of our team will assist you with the drafting of your submission.
If you would like our help, please email paralegal@gowlandlegal.com.au.
*For further information regarding making submissions, submitting and confidentiality contact the Australian Law Reform Commission or see the Issues Paper.
To read the Issues Paper visit:
https://www.alrc.gov.au/publications/family-law-system-ip
To read the full Women’s Legal Service Safety First in Family Law program visit:
http://www.wlsnsw.org.au/law-reform/safety-family-law/
 

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