Statement on proposed Family Court merger

Monday, 23 November 2020

Statement on proposed Family Court merger

The Law Council of Australia released a statement today condemning the proposed merger of the specialist Family Law Court into the Federal Circuit Court. The ACT Law Society agrees with this position, and supports the continued independence of the Family Court of Australia.

Law Council President, Ms Wright said, “The report on the merger by Government Senators is entirely unsatisfactory because it does not engage in any meaningful way with concerns raised by more than 110 stakeholders who work in the family law system and witness daily, the impacts on children.”

“The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Bill 2019 (Cth) would give effect to a proposal announced by Attorney-General Porter in May 2018 to collapse the stand-alone, specialist Family Court into one of Australia’s busiest courts, the lower level generalist Federal Circuit Court, to the detriment of vulnerable families.

“The merger bill was developed without consultation with court users, most judges or key stakeholders. By collapsing the present world-acclaimed stand-alone specialist Family Court into a generalist court, the merger will in effect abolish the Family Court as we know it and harm vulnerable children and families in need of specialist family law assistance.

“Despite this, the merger has been pursued by Attorney-General Porter with flagrant disregard for the concerns raised by Women’s Legal Services Australia, Community Legal Centres Australia, NATSILS, family violence service providers, the legal profession and others about the merger’s risks to families. Those concerns have once again by ignored by the government in this inquiry.

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“The Law Council urges the Parliament to do what this inquiry has not: listen to stakeholders and abandon the flawed merger bill,” Ms Wright said.

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