Review of the family law system: Issues and opportunities

Friday 27 July, 0830 – 0930


Helen Rhoades
Commissioner, Australian Law Reform Commission

On 17 August 2017, the then Attorney-General of Australia, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, asked the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) to review the family law system. The inquiry constitutes the first independent comprehensive review of the family law system since the Family Law Act and the Family Court of Australia commenced operation in January 1976, over 40 years ago. Among other things, the terms of reference for this review ask the ALRC to consider what reforms are needed or desirable in relation to ‘the protection of the best interests of children and their safety’, the ‘opportunities for less adversarial resolution of parenting and property disputes’ and ‘collaboration, coordination, and integration between the family law system and other Commonwealth, state and territory systems, including family support services and the family violence and child protection systems’.

These questions build on the growing evidence that many clients who engage with the family law system hold safety concerns for their children, and that many separated families have multiple legal and support needs. This evidence suggests that reforms to the family law system can no longer be considered in isolation from other systems and services affecting the safety and wellbeing of children and raises questions about how best to support separated families and their children.

The presentation will draw on the publicly available submissions to the ALRC’s Issues Paper to provide an overview of the ALRC’s work on the family law system review.