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Review of the Family Law System (2018)

Rights Rights and Freedoms

Australian Law Reform Commission

Summary

As Australia’s family law system becomes ever more complex and needs to respond to a greater diversity of clients, it is timely to review how it protects the human rights of individuals and their families, in particular the most vulnerable in our communities, including children and victims of family and domestic violence.

1 Introduction

1. The Australian Human Rights Commission (the Commission) makes this submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) in its Review of the Family Law System (this Review).

2. The Commission commends the Australian Government and the Australian Law Reform Commission for this Review. In particular, the Commission welcomes its comprehensive nature, noting that the ALRC will ‘consider the redevelopment of the family law system as a whole, in an integrated and holistic, rather than piecemeal, way’. The Review is a unique opportunity to assess and evaluate whether the system as a whole is functioning at its best in meeting the needs of individuals and family members, including children.

3. As the ALRC points out in its Issues Paper, this Review builds on a number of earlier reviews that examined aspects of the family law system. There are also several Bills before Parliament proposing amendments to the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (the Family Law Act), which the Commission has made submissions to in relation to children’s rights.

4. This submission does not seek to address every question outlined in the Issues Paper. It concentrates on particular human rights issues raised with us by organisations and individuals, including children, or issues examined by the Commission in its previous work. This includes those relating to the human rights of: children; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; people with disability; lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people; people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities; and people experiencing family and domestic violence. These issues have been dealt with in this submission by reference to headings provided in the Issues Paper.