Rethinking confidentiality, the wicked problem and the absent moral debate; Lessons from FRC’s, the Canadian experience, restorative and innovative justice.

Family Law
Friday 27 July, 1010 – 1030


Ian Connop

Confidentiality provides a safe space for parents to speak freely in federally funded programs such as the Parenting Order Program (POP) under section 70NEF, Information is also confidential in Family Dispute Resolution (FDR). Often programs are run by the same NGO, or by NGO’s that are required to compete for funding. These create structural silo effects that have the unintended consequence of pushing services to work in isolation. Well-meaning and incremental changes address some post separation circumstances; however a radical rethink of systemic failures to address post separation/re-partnering issues is required. We need to consider where confidentiality, privacy, protection and secrecy intersect and how we can prevent a parent telling and retelling their story multiple times to numerous services. Further consideration is given to shared information that may assist in accountability and decision making across current silos/jurisdictions and maintaining safety for all while preventing abuse with, and of, the current system. The function of mediation in the overall system relies on interpersonal respect and trust, whilst lacking delegated authority and an opaque view of neutrality through the facilitation model. Informed by challenging intercultural experiences and attempts to engage the sector in a moral debate to add to the legal and ethical frameworks, I propose several ways ahead, drawing on; other jurisdictions, the application of parenting coordination and arbitration/conciliation models, inquisitorial legal systems over adversarial approaches, a wide ranging systemic provincial reform currently underway in Alberta and international recommendations over the last 20 years across several countries in the western world.