The family law sector in Australia is abuzz with the release of the Australian Law Reform Commission’s (the ALRC) review into the Family Law system. The final report contained 60 recommendations addressing all aspects of the system from property division changes, family violence support and access to the Courts.
The second of the ALRC’s recommendations proposes the development of a national framework to guide the sharing of information relating to safety, welfare and wellbeing of families and children.
Currently, the State Governments have responsibility for child protection (through Family & Community Services) and policing (relevantly, criminal and apprehended domestic violence issues); and the Commonwealth Government has responsibility for family law.
Many families straddle the two systems. Unfortunately, for those families, information held by the respective government agencies is not easily shared – or at times even known – due to privacy restrictions and complications caused by the interface of state and federal laws, policies and procedures. This results in victims having to re-tell their (often traumatic) experiences; or very relevant and important information never coming to the attention of subsequent agencies or courts.
The ALRC recommends that the National Framework include the legal framework for sharing of information, including relevant federal, state and territory court documents, child protection records and police records.
The recommendation is supported by many within the family law sector, including the family law team at Mullane & Lindsay.