Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Community Input Sought on Wide-Ranging Family Law Reforms

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Philip Ruddock MP, Attorney-General

A discussion paper released today seeks input from the community into the implementation of wide-ranging reforms to the family law system, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock and Minister for Families and Community Services Kay Patterson have announced.

Mr Ruddock said the discussion paper was a major step forward in achieving the most significant changes to the family law system since 1975.

‘In proposing these major reforms, the Government is committed to improving outcomes for families by ensuring at all times the focus is on the best interests of the children involved,’ Mr Ruddock said.

‘Changes to the law will promote the objective of both parents having a meaningful role in their children’s lives.’

Mr Ruddock said the proposed reforms would mean significant changes for separating families particularly with the establishment of a new network of 65 community based Family Relationship Centres.

The Centres would help parents resolve disputes and reach agreement on parenting arrangements after separation as well as provide couples with access to relationship education and help to families experiencing relationship difficulties.

‘This is a significant community issue,’ he said. ‘Many Australian families are affected directly or indirectly by conflict, separation and divorce.

‘Our aim is to reduce the emotional costs to families and children of conflict and separation while also providing practical assistance to families to avoid separation,’ he said.

Minister Patterson said such far-reaching changes needed to be implemented carefully through close consultation with the community.
‘This discussion paper reflects the genuine desire of the Government to seek further community input to these important reforms,’ she said.

The discussion paper is available on the Attorney-Generals website and the Prime Minister of Australia’s website or by ringing 02 6234 4895. Submissions are required by January 14, 2005.

The Ministers thanked members of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on the Family and Community Affairs Inquiry into Child Custody for their report ‘Every Picture Tells a Story’.