The Greens welcome the introduction of family law amendments aimed at putting children’s welfare first in family law matters.

After years of inaction, and unnecessary, damaging inquiries, steps to address the regressive Howard era changes to the family court system are long-overdue.

The women’s safety sector and legal advocates have long called for a child-safety focussed court and we look forward to these reforms moving closer to that goal. But these outcomes can only be achieved with adequate resources, and both the Federal Circuit and Family Court and the National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children remain woefully underfunded.

Greens leader in the Senate and spokesperson on women Senator Larissa Waters said:

“Finally, after years of wasted time and damaging misinformation campaigns – including Pauline Hanson’s toxic family law inquiry – we may start to see real improvements to the family law system.

“Since the Howard government re-wrote Australia’s family laws in 2006, we have seen the presumption of shared care weaponised, instead of the best interests of kids coming first.

“Gendered violence is at the core of many cases in the family law system, and we know children frequently bear the brunt of violent relationships and protracted legal matters.

“We look forward to supporting amendments based on expert advice, instead of the political grandstanding that has traumatised victim-survivors, put children at risk, and provided a platform for hate and misinformation.

“The Greens will review the proposed amendments and work with stakeholders and the government to ensure a strong, fair, and safe family law system.

“While these reforms are welcome, without more funding to courts and frontline family and domestic violence services, delays, unequal representation and lack of support will continue to put women and children at risk.

“The only way to strengthen the outcomes and timeliness of family law matters is to ensure they are heard by experienced, specialist judges. Funding for judicial training, as well as wraparound support services including safe rooms, risk screening and triaging programs, and cultural liaison workers are essential to the success of any reform.

“If the Attorney General wants these reforms to work, his government needs to stump up the funding for them to do so.”

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