Family Law Reform

25 March 2011

Professor Patrick Parkinson, AM comments on the Federal Government's legislation that aims to alter some of the Howard government's family law reforms.

In an interview with The World Today, Professor Parkinson the new bill fine-tunes the 2006 legislation.

"Well the 2006 reforms did a whole variety of things," he asserts.

"It was a very major reform package.
"And one of the things it did was to say that there are two primary concerns for the court.

"The first one is to look at the benefit to the child of a meaningful relationship with both of the parents.

"The second primary consideration was to protect children from harm, from abuse.
And what the new bill does is just to clarify that a little bit and say, look in any case where there's a conflict between those two principles you ought to give a bit more priority to protection of children from harm."
Professor Parkinson also outlines the changes to the definition of domestic violence.

"The current definition of family violence in the Act has been around in various forms for many years now and it essentially says it's behaviour that causes somebody to be afraid.
"There's been a view amongst some of the advocacy groups that that definition ought to be much broader, much more expansive.
"And so what the bill does is to create a completely new definition which is basically saying that family violence is behaviour - physical violence, threatening behaviour, other behaviour - which coerces or controls somebody or causes them to be afraid."
View the transcript and download the audio - Family Law changes introduced - The World Today

Contact: Greg Sherington

Phone: +61 2 9351 0202

Email: 1d03520d66040e00035d5a2025400f130b01090a2e01400315447a5622