As the 2016 political year commenced, we have seen controversial debate sparked by the banning of the burkini, the introduction of a new iPhone and the arrival of Senator Pauline Hanson. As one of her party’s core policies, the One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson has made it very clear that the Family Court has to go.
This week, those feelings have been exacerbated in Hanson’s first speech in the upper house of Parliament as the words ‘unworkable’ and ‘discriminatory’ have been used to describe the Family Law system. She has proposed that a tribunal of ‘mainstream Australians’ replace the court to ensure there is a body which can sustain the unbearable workload.
Amongst her claims, Hanson condemns the system on the basis that men are unfavourably looked upon and victims of family violence are disadvantaged in court proceedings by common practices. This includes the allowance for self-represented litigants (often the accused) to cross-examine their alleged victim.
Moving past Hanson’s unfounded comment regarding female favouritism, there are grounds for annoyance concerning the court’s workload and current lack of support. Justice Bryant has publicly asked for an increase in government funding to ensure there are better risk assessment tools for family consultants and expanded domestic awareness training.
Justice Bryant has publicly disagreed with Hanson’s views in stating that the abolition of the Family Law Courts would not only be unconstitutional but a brash response for an issue that deserves more expertise as opposed to less.
Realistically, it is inappropriate that the wait time for trial is approximately two years and cross-examination by an alleged abuser is allowed to occur. However, abolishing the system is not the answer. Family law has already seen significant reform and will continue to improve with greater funding as a result of increased research on key areas of focus such as family violence.
If you have a family law matter that you want to discuss, or are currently going through the Family Court, contact us on 02 8917 8700 to discuss your matter further.