Parliamentary inquiry into a better family law system to support and protect those affected by family violence

This submission partially responds to the request by the Royal Commission into Family Violence Summary , (as published by WLSV, 2016), that the Australian Institute of Family Studies, (AIFS) is provided with a framework to conduct research into the practices and assessments of family consultants.

This author addresses the fifth terms of reference and suggests that many of the proposals could be applicable for further critical analysis of anyone performing a similar function to family consultants, inclusive of court report writers, assessors, family dispute practitioners, and child protection workers/assessors by for example, the AIFS.

Past reports have often been more heavily weighted on the legal professional’s side rather than the victims’ voice. Looking for answers within a struggling system weighted with the very practitioners who are complicit and benefit from the current service delivery, limits public confidence with some conclusions from historic relevant inquiries. The current inquiry’s invitation for the victims and court participant’s voice via the questionnaire is a welcome inclusion of a balanced perspective.
The family and children’s courts have an opportunity to protect families from violence. To do this effectively the health and safety of victims of violence must be prioritised through protective legislation. The most dangerous cases are where contested cases are used to control and punish the protective parent as an extension of violence. These cases need to be managed much differently to consented proceedings if we are to efficiently protect against family violence.
The family courts are in current crisis because they are regarding myths and opinions over sound research and fact. They are not endorsing standards or principles or employing practices which meaningfully identify and interpret the truth of the matter. Family violence has been grossly mismanaged through the court system as it stands, with horrific consequences.