Law Council warns against reintroduction of family court merger bills

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The Law Council of Australia has joined a coalition of domestic violence service providers, specialist family law and child protection legal assistance providers, academics, and legal practitioners in urging the Federal government not to reintroduce family court merger bills in the 46th Parliament.

In a joint statement, Women’s Legal Services Australia (WLSA), Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia, three academics of the UTS Faculty of Law, and the Law Council of Australia called on the Government to abandon the merger proposal and instead explore holistic alternatives for reform.

The organisations are asking on the Parliament to refuse to reinstate the merger proposal; consider and consult on alternative models of structural, holistic reform to benefit children, families and victims of family violence; and invest further funds and resources in legal assistance, the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court.

“The Government has acknowledged that the merger proposal was only a ‘short-term fix’ but it is not even that,” said Arthur Moses, president of the Law Council of Australia. “Families need real, long-term solutions that will improve the cost, length and accessibility of justice, not mirages or band-aid fixes that increase confusion and complexity. The merger was not passed by the 45th Parliament with good reason and should not be passed now. The Australian Law Reform Commission’s recent review of the family law system raises prospects of alternate reform and holistic structural change that differ significantly from the merger and deserve careful consideration, as do other proposals including the model proposed by the Semple Report.”