Last week the Commonwealth Government confirmed that there will be a joint parliamentary inquiry into the Family Law and Child Support system to be led by the Kevin Andrews, co-chaired with Pauline Hanson. According to the PM’s media release, the inquiry will focus on “specific areas where there may be scope for improvement in the family law system, the courts or other policy areas such as child support… It will also look at how the family law system, state and territory child protection systems and family and domestic violence jurisdictions can communicate better”.
This inquiry comes four months after the Australian Law Reform Commission report into family law was released – and 60 recommendations from that have yet to be actioned. Peak domestic violence groups say that the inquiry should be abandoned. The arguments made by these peak bodies stem from the commentary made by Sen Pauline Hanson’s stated belief that women lie about domestic violence to gain custody of their children or for support benefits.
The CEO of ACT’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service (DVCS), Mirjana Wilson, also stated in a RiotACT article, “Until there is a justification for another enquiry, and evidence provided by Ms Hanson around the commentary she is making regarding false allegations of violence, then this sector will continue calling for that enquiry not to proceed”.
According to a media release from Australian Women Against Violence Alliance (AWAVA), “We have had enough enquiries. There are steps the Government can take right now to make the family law system safer for women and children. Safety is what we should be focused on now, not setting up a platform for those who choose not to believe victims/survivors”.
Overall, the previous inquiries found that the needs of the child were often not placed above the rights of the parents.
And a Sydney Morning Herald article by Bianca Hall found that “According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, regardless of allegations made in the Family Court, fathers retained visiting or parenting rights in 97 per cent of cases.”