Catholic Welfare says Family Law reforms rely on community groups

CLICK HERECatholic Welfare Australia yesterday welcomed a major report into Family Law, but said the law "only takes us so far" and the the community organisations that will to the work on the ground "must formally be engaged in its planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation".

Changes to the Family Law Act changes are part of a broader shake-up of family arrangements, and come shortly after a ministerial taskforce recommended changes to the child support payment system. The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs yesterday tabled its report entitled Exposure Draft of the Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Bill 2005.

Catholic Welfare Australia executive director Frank Quinlan said that the Committee had "rightly identified the need to 'introduce a system of accreditation and evaluation for all Family Relationship Centres and all family dispute resolution practitioners as a matter of urgency'".

"We wholeheartedly agree and believe the best results will be achieved by establishing a consultative committee drawn from relevant industry bodies and providers," he said. "This should include not only organisations such as Catholic Welfare Australia, but representatives with Family Law expertise, expertise in child welfare and psychology, community legal centres and other relevant bodies."

Mr Quinlan said that Family Relationship Centres will affect these programs dramatically, so it makes sense to include them in the development of service models and accreditation standards.

"This is not about the interests of providers, in the end the interests of children will be better protected if all services consider these issues together," said Mr Quinlan.

"Catholic Welfare Australia has continually argued that the best interests of the child must be paramount in any reform of Family Law in this country. Adoption of the Committee's recommendations will strengthen the legislation on this issue, but the practical application of the legislation should be evaluated and closely monitored to ensure that the aims are met," he said.

"I hope that the Committee's recommendations regarding better communication and sharing of information between the Family Court and the States and Territories (Recommendations 11, 12 & 13) will be implemented," said Mr Quinlan. "We cannot allow the best interests of the children to get lost between the Commonwealth and State/Territory systems. We need to find ways to make the processes work."

Community groups will be major players in putting Family Law into action (Catholic Welfare Australia 18/8/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs | Exposure Draft of the Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Bill 2005
Catholic Welfare Australia
Submission to the House of Representatives Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, 15 July 2005 - PDF (Catholic Welfare Australia 25/7/05)

Catholic Welfare comments on 'overdue' Family Law changes (CathNews 27/7/05)

Parents without custody to be given bigger say (Sydney Morning Herald 19/8/05)
Inquiry backs family law shake-up (The Australian/Australian Associated Press 18/8/05)

19 Aug 2005