Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department: Exposure draft of the Family Law Amendment Bill 2023
This submission applies both ANROWS and external research to the Attorney-General’s exposure draft of the Family Law Amendment Bill 2023.
The submission supports the exposure draft of the Family Law Amendment Bill 2023 and its focus on ensuring the best interests of children are prioritised in and at the centre of the family law system. It builds on previous ANROWS submissions to inquiries and reviews of the family law system, including our submission to the Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Family Law System and our submission relating to improving the competency and accountability of family report writers.
The submission supports the drive to make the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) clearer and more concise in plain language, drawing upon our evidence relating to self-represented litigants from “No straight lines”: Self-represented litigants in family law proceedings involving allegations about family violence (Wangmann et al., 2020). It also draws upon ANROWS research, Compliance with and enforcement of family law parenting orders: Final report (Carson et al., 2022), to highlight the need to prioritise recovery needs for children and non-offending parents experiencing domestic and family violence.
This submission recommended:
- ensuring the family law system prioritises the recovery needs of children and non-offending parents from domestic and family violence by using “recovery” in the best interests factor relating to safety, which is consistent with the National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022–2032
- mechanisms to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are not disadvantaged by the separate consideration of culture and language from the best interest factor in s 60CC relating to the consideration of views expressed by the child
- giving further consideration to how the amended Act could help family law system actors resolve the inherent tension between supporting child-focused decision-making and punitive responses to contravention
- ensuring Independent Children’s Lawyers (ICLs) meet with children and young people with mechanisms to ensure this occurs in a trauma-informed and culturally safe way for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people
- ensuring vexatious litigation/systems abuse is understood and responded to in the broader context of coercive control
- balancing expanding the overarching purpose of family law practice and procedure with a clear mechanism that encourages and facilitates the raising of domestic and family violence and child abuse as required.
Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety. (2023). Re: Exposure Draft of the Family Law Act Amendment Bill 2023 [Submission]. ANROWS.