Professor Patrick Parkinson comments on recent improvements to Australia's Family Law System

15 July 2008

Professor Patrick Parkinson commented on recent improvements to Australia's Family Law System in an article in The Australian.

Recent changes included an increased emphasis on alternative dispute resolution, with all parents now forced to attend mediation before lodging an application for a parenting order, and the launch of new family relationship centres around Australia since 2006, which provide support services including early intervention.

Professor Parkinson believes these will be seen as "monumental advances" in Family Law in years to come.

"We know that conflict damages children, and if we are successful in reducing conflict -- and the early signs from all of these things is that we are -- that has to be unequivocally good for children and good for families," Professor Parkinson said.

"The cost of litigating is such that if we can resolve problems without it, who could criticise?"

However, Professor Parkinson believes that the biggest problem with Australia's Family Law system remains unresolved - the way that the Family Court deals with domestic violence.

"And the probelm is not with the law, the problem is with the evidence," he said

He said that in cases where women spoke little English or who were extremely fearful of their husbands, often the evidence needed for courts to make protective decisions was not put before them.

"In many of these situations what you need is the state stepping in, investigating, reporting, and taking responsibility for the protection of the most vulnerable people in society."

Professor Parkinson recently called for the creation of a federal child protection service.

To view the entire article - Family law revolution still has a long way to go

Contact: Greg Sherington

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