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Hoping for change, but parliamentary inquiry a “soft option” and Royal Commission is still needed: Bravehearts

By April 5, 2017No Comments

By Gianna Huesch

Following from news that the Government has now announced a parliamentary inquiry into the family law system, and in the context that child advocacy group Bravehearts has been calling for a Royal Commission into the family law system for the past year, we asked Bravehearts if the new inquiry meant a Royal Commission is no longer necessary. 

Will this parliamentary inquiry be helpful to children and families?

“Any inquiry is better than none, but a parliamentary inquiry is a soft option for such serious issues, as it does not have the power to direct how States and Territories function. The family law system involves both State and Federal institutions, including the Courts, but also Police and Child Protection. Any real change will only come when all participants are investigated and are ultimately involved in the solution.”

Will it cover the ground that a Royal Commission would have?

“No. Only a Royal Commission has the legal framework capable of negotiating and overcoming the significant constitutional, legal (Sec 121 & other privacy instruments), international (UNCROC) and statutory (State based) hurdles necessary to properly and thoroughly investigate the failings of the current system, both State and Federal, and to instigate change.“

Is it enough?

“No. The need for transparency and accountability is critical; children’s lives are literally depending on it. This is not the best we can do for our children caught in this dysfunctional system.”

Do we still need a Royal Commission?

“Yes, a Royal Commission is still required. Courts are specialists at law, not child protection. Child sexual assault needs to be dealt with separately and distinctly (Outcome 6: National Framework for the Protection of Australia’s Children). The court needs specialist and holistic advice to emanate from the statutorily responsible source, the States and Territories. A Royal Commission would disclose the injustices being perpetrated on children and protective parents and assist to correct them.

“A Royal commission could recommend nationally consistent reform measures that would defend the human rights of our nation’s children to be protected from harm. No other legal framework has the capacity to properly and thoroughly investigate, report and remedy the tragedy being perpetrated on our children and to hold persons to account for their failure in excising their duty of care and/or professional and ethical diligence. “

Ultimately, regarding the parliamentary inquiry, Bravehearts says, “Our hope is two-fold – that it can bring about quick win changes to the dysfunction that is the family law system in Australia; and that it’s brave enough to recommend the urgent need for a far-reaching Royal Commission of Inquiry.”

The Bravehearts’ paper on the Family Law System, Abbey’s Project, has formed part of the foundation documents to be considered by the inquiry. Read about Abbey’s Project here: https://d3gjc588aqjwmy.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Abbeys-Project_Family-Law-discussion-paper-CURRENT.pdf

Do you require assistance with a family law matter?  Please contact Canberra family lawyer Cristina Huesch, or one of our other experienced solicitors, on (02) 6223 2400 for advice—your first conference is free.

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