Federal Budget - Implications for Family Law
The 2017-18 Federal Budget, released Monday 9 May, has been received with mixed feelings by the Family Law Section.
Disappointingly, the budget did not include the significant funding increase required to solve some of the current challenges faced by the existing Family Court framework. Extended delays within the court system are set to continue without the economic attention necessary to address them. Legal Aid funding also failed to receive the budget consideration it requires.
A welcome injection of $10.7 million to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, the Family Court of Australia and the Family Court of Western Australia will help to support vulnerable families by engaging more family consultants.
The establishment of ‘Parenting Management Hearings’ has been afforded $12.7 million. Attorney-General, Hon George Brandis QC, outlined these hearings as an innovative solution to resolving “more straight-forward family law disputes between self-represented litigants”.
These hearings will be introduced with the aim to lessen the stress placed on the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court. Diversified resolution options should help streamline the litigation process and help to unclog the court system, encouraging a more timely litigation process. It appears that hearings will be trialled in Parramatta, with a second site yet to be identified. The Federal Court of Australia will have administrative responsibility.
Particularly important was the announcement that Australian family law will undergo a comprehensive review by the Australian Law Reform Commission. This review will be focused on ensuring that the contemporary needs of modern Australian families are being met by Australian family law. Of particular interest will be frameworks for addressing family violence and child abuse. The Commission will present its report by the end of 2018.
Accompanying the Budget was the Attorney-General’s assurance that public consultation regarding proposed changes to the Family Law Act would commence shorty. The proposed changes detail measures to ensure that victims of family violence are not put in the position of being personally cross-examined, or having to cross-examining their alleged perpetrator/s of violence.
If you need advice or assistance with any family law issue, call us on 07 5526 3646 or contact us.