PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS
Family Law and Child Support System
Debate resumed today in the Parliament on motion by Mr Wilkie:
That this House:
(1) acknowledges the large number of mothers and fathers with serious grievances with family law and the child support system;
(2) notes that there has not been a comprehensive review of the child support system since the 2005 review In the Best Interests of Children - Reforming the Child Support Scheme;
(3) calls on the Government to undertake a comprehensive review of family law and the child support system; and
(4) recommends that the Terms of Reference of this review be formulated to ensure that the safety and well being of children are paramount.
The question was agreed to.
The question appears to have been raised after a number of complaints were made to members in regard to the high level of dissatisfaction from the public relating to the operations of the Child Support Agency, a recent suicide case which is the subject of FOI and other requests to Albie Shultz, and widespread dissatisfaction at the front line service capability and interpretation of Div 4 of the Child Support (Assessment) Act and Regulations s50-51-52-53-54 that deals with a change of care. As well the Court System and lengthy delays in the FRC (Family Relationship centres), compounded with long delays in courts, a system that is unable to return matters expeditiously to court to deal with contraventions and uphold orders and startling figures from the ABS that show that the total of children who have face to face contact less than once a year OR never now totals 253,000.
An issue that has been raised in WA is the Violence Restraining Orders (VRO) initial hearings in the Western Australian Magistrates Court are almost all without exception, performed Exparte in the absence of the respondent. This has resulted in a number of results in one-sided hearings, denial of justice, a further delay in receiving justice and irrevocable harm to absent respondents and their children. VROs in some cases are being used by applicants to remove their spouses or partners from the family home to gain tactical advantage in divorce proceedings.