Government Response to Joint Select Committee Family Law Inquiry
Minister for Social Services
The Hon Amanda Rishworth MP
Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme
Minister for Government Services
The Hon Bill Shorten MP
The Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP
Joint media release
The Albanese Government has today released its response to the inquiry conducted by the Joint Select Committee on Australia’s Family Law System.
The Committee’s inquiry was wide-ranging and covered issues such as additional training, accreditation and monitoring of family law professionals and services, delays and legal costs in the courts, enforcing court orders, addressing family violence, and the operation of the child support scheme.
The response includes agreement from Government to consider simplifying and clarifying legislation on the resolution of parenting matters and the enforcement of parenting orders.
“The Government is committed to restoring the family law system so that it is accessible, safer, and simpler to use” the Attorney-General said.
“This includes addressing the backlog of recommendations from family law inquiries under the former Government, such as the reports of the Joint Select Committee and Australian Law Reform Commission’s 2019 report, Family Law for the Future.”
The Government is already progressing work that implements a number of the Committee’s recommendations. The 2022-23 Budget confirmed $87.9 million over four years to continue to expand the successful Lighthouse Project approach to managing family safety risk in the Courts to 15 Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia registries, nationwide.
The Government is also considering innovative approaches to support families to resolve post-separation financial matters, and measures to improve standards for critical professions and services, such as family report writers and Children’s Contact Services.
Minister Rishworth said that changes to the family law system to make it safer and easier to use would ensure the welfare of victim-survivors of family violence, including children, was paramount.
“It is critical that the family law system protects those at risk of violence – including children and young people – who are victims and survivors of family violence in their own right,” Minister Rishworth said.
“We know that long, complicated and adversarial court proceedings can have negative effects on the health and wellbeing of people who are already in a fragile emotional state dealing with the breakdown of a relationship – including children.”
The response also includes agreement from Government to implement key recommendations to improve the operation of the child support scheme.
Minister Rishworth said the Government is committed to ensuring Australia’s child support system is effective in the assessment and collection of child support to ensure children are financially supported by their parents after separation.
“The Government will bring together key stakeholders and experts to provide a strong voice on child support issues and ensure our system remains fit for purpose and achieves better outcomes for children.”
“The recommendations reflect the crucial role played by Services Australia and the child support scheme in providing information and support to families during a difficult and emotional time,” Minister Shorten said.
“The agency understands that family disputes are difficult so we want to make the process as easy and as seamless as possible.”
The Committee concluded its two-year inquiry on 22 November 2021, when it released the last in a series of reports outlining its recommended improvements to Australia’s family law system and child support scheme.