Catholic Welfare comments on 'overdue' Family Law changes

Catholic Welfare Australia has appeared before the Federal House of Representatives Legal & Constitutional Affairs Committee on Family Law reform, applauding the focus on the views of children involved.

The peak body for Australia's Catholic welfare agencies said in a media statement that the Government is restructuring the Family Law system to make it more accessible to families. The background note said the Government is moving away from strong reliance on legal remedies, which is the focus of the current system.

Catholic Welfare's comments came in the form of a letter of response to the draft of the Committee's report Every picture tells a story: Inquiry into child custody arrangements in the event of family separation.

Addressing Committee chair Hon Peter Slipper MP, Catholic Welfare's CEO Frank Quinlan (pictured) said Catholic Welfare Australia applauds the focus that this current legislation places on children's 'views', as opposed to 'wishes'.

"We believe the changes to the wording from 'residence' to 'lives with', and 'contact' to 'spends time with' and 'communicates with' are helpful changes that will resonate with the public," he said. The acknowledgement of the importance of relationships children have with their wider family, in particular their grandparents, and the inclusion of provisions which provide for a greater role of the extended family are to be commended."

However Mr Quinlan expressed concern that the legislation stipulates that Family Relationship Centres will be the 'single' point of entry to the Family Law system, which varies from an impression given earlier.

He also raised a concern about confusion that he believes could result from a change in the definition of the four roles: a legal practitioner, a family counsellor, a family dispute resolution practitioner and a family and child specialist. He suggests that the change may work for the professionals involved, but is likely to cause confusion on the part of the public.

Catholic Welfare Australia appears before House of Representatives Committee on family law exposure draft (Catholic Welfare Australia 25/7/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Submission to the House of Representatives Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, 15 July 2005 - PDF (Catholic Welfare Australia 25/7/05)
Opening Statement at the Public Hearing, 25 July 2005 - PDF (Catholic Welfare Australia 25/7/05)
Every picture tells a story: Inquiry into child custody arrangements in the event of family separation (House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Community Affairs)
Catholic Welfare Australia

27 Jul 2005