Recently, the Federal Government proposed to do away with the Family Court as a standalone court. The proposal involved merging the specialist Family Court of Australia with the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.
In response to the proposal, a coalition of more than 60 legal organisations, including the Law Council, Women's Legal Services Australia, Community Legal Centres Australia, and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service have urged the Federal Government to reconsider the proposal, on the basis that the proposed court merger could place children and adult victims of family violence at significant risk and/or at greater risk. One of the primary objections to the merger is that the safety of children and adult victims of family violence require a specialist forum to deal with family law matters involving family violence and this forum is the Family Court of Australia.
The Australian Law Reform Commission Report released in April 2019, confirmed that the majority of family law cases now involve allegations of family violence, child abuse and other risk factors. Under the proposed plan to merge the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court, the Attorney General maintains his position that the merger would not result in a loss of specialisation. Prior to the election this year, there was an attempt to have a bill passed for the merger, however, the bill did not receive sufficient support and accordingly was not passed. It is anticipated that the bill may be reintroduced into Parliament before the end of the year.
It is unclear what the fate of the Family Court will be, so we suggest you watch this space.
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