ECA urges Prime Minister to ‘put children first’ in family law system review

ECA urges Prime Minister to ‘put children first’ in family law system review

by Freya Lucas

September 20, 2019

Early Childhood Australia (ECA) have issued a statement urging Prime Minister Scott Morrison to ensure that the safety and wellbeing of children is at the heart of the Australian Parliament’s inquiry into the family law system. 

 

While the proposed Terms of Reference for the inquiry note that the Joint Select Committee will be asked to consider ‘the impacts of family law proceedings on the health, safety and wellbeing of children and families involved in those proceedings’, ECA CEO Samantha Page said this sole mention of children’s wellbeing is “almost overwhelmed” by other points of focus. 

 

ECA noted that the Terms of Reference “focus on interrogating proof, truthfulness and evidence related to family and domestic violence and family law proceedings” rather than the wellbeing of children at the centre of such cases.  

 

‘We are very concerned about the impetus behind the new inquiry, which was enunciated by Senator Hanson yesterday that women are inventing claims of domestic violence in order to deny their former partners custody rights over their children, and that legal processes therefore require change,’ Ms Page said. 

 

‘Any changes to domestic and family violence law that would—in intent or effect—diminish the safety and wellbeing of Australian children would be an exceptionally grave breach of Australia’s human rights obligations, and would simply be unacceptable to the vast majority of Australians.’ 

 

In response, ECA has written to the Prime Minister to ensure that the work carried out by the Australian Law Reform Commission on the family law system forms the starting point for the new Joint Select Committee inquiry. 

 

To further progress their advocacy in this space, ECA will seek to discuss these matters with members of the committee to reinforce the importance of children’s safety and wellbeing being at the heart of family law and responses to domestic and family violence. 

 

For more information about the inquiry and its goals, please see here

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