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Problems with Family Court Counsellors

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We must change the entrenched attitudes of Mediators and Counsellors in the court system

Reference source: Refer to my previous post in the SRL forum relating to Family Law Court counselling services

In relation to that post, I quote three policy proposals (from a list of 26 that I have previoulsy posted) relevant to this situation:
No unilateral summary exclusion;
Need for an Independent Ombudsman;
Record all discussions, hearings and mediations,and make recordings freely available at no charge.

No unilateral summary exclusion

That it be illegal for either parent to be able to unilaterally exclude the child from the life of the other parent based on unsubstantiated allegations.
That any parent denied equal contact (or less as agreed) can apply for immediate relief by way of a court order protecting the child's relationship with both its parents.
That any allegations of child abuse be kept separate from child residency and property negotiations in the FRCs (Family Relationship Centres) or in the Family Court system, and be dealt with promptly by the Department of Child Safety and if warranted, in the criminal courts.

Where allegations of child abuse (physical violence, sex abuse, emotional abuse) are made, that they be dealt with even-handedly by the Department of Child Safety, where both parents are equally investigated, and with a transparent accountable process.

That access can only be denied or restricted after thorough and professional independent investigations into both parents and child find evidence of child abuse.<br />
That there be an independent body to efficiently investigate allegations of bias or unprofessionalism in the Department of Child Safety.<br />

There have been instances where a judge has excluded the father from unsupervised access to the child on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations of child sex abuse, and because the judge felt that if the father had access, the mother would "shut down emotionally".  This rationale should no longer be considered valid.


Family Law system Independent Ombudsman

That an independent Family Law system Independent Ombudsman be established to investigate claims of bias, non-professionalism, or mistakes etc for clients of the FRCs. This Ombudsman proceedure should also be transparent and accountable to prevent it from being captured by the FRC industry.


Public access to proceedings

Should an initial mediation session in the Family Relationship Centre fail to reach agreement on all issues, a further public mediation should take place, public in the sense that it should be recorded and made publicly available on podcasts, so that public scrutiny is not lost.  Public access to court processes has been a fundamental principal of courts and this should not be lost when processes move to Family Relationship Centres.

Coordinator, Equal Parenting Movement

Co-director, Fathers4Equality

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