The family law system is facing a crisis and urgent action must be taken
to remedy it. However, the Australian Greens consider that the Family Law
Amendment (Parenting Management Hearings) Bill 2017 (the bill) is rushed and
The bill received many submissions from groups and organisations which
promote the safety of women, children and other disadvantaged groups and work
to prevent domestic and sexual violence and abuse. Submitters shared a concern
that the model for Parent Management Hearings (PMH) as outlined in the bill
endangered victim-survivors of child abuse, family violence and domestic
The Australian Women Against Violence Alliance noted that 'the format
and approach of the PMH is not conducive to managing the risks arising from family
violence for victim/ survivors and their children'.
Women's Legal Services Australia noted that:
Innovative practice, new ideas and a culture of continuous
improvement should be encouraged in any court system. However, when the
outcomes of untried and untested processes can have enormous ramifications on
the safety of women and children, such as the introduction of PMHs, we advocate
any new model should be based on research and evidence and informed at every
step by domestic and family violence experts.
The Australian Greens agree with Women's Legal Service Australia's
On 27 September 2017, the Commonwealth Attorney-General
commissioned the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) to undertake the most
comprehensive review of the family law system in Australia that has ever been
undertaken. In our view, it makes sense that the PMH model be delayed and its
implementation be specifically considered by the ALRC in their review before
piloting such an untested model.
The Australian Human Rights Commission raised a concern that the bill does
not comply with Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of
the Child (CRC). Article 12 'sets out a child's right to express their views
on all matters affecting the child, and to have those views given due weight in
accordance with the age and maturity of the child'.
The Australian Greens share the Australian Human Rights Commission's
view that 'the proposed amendments do not give children who are affected by a
parenting matter before the Panel sufficient opportunity to express their views
in accordance with article 12'.
The Australian Greens recommend that the bill not be passed.
Senator Nick McKim
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