Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Government welcomes Child Custody Inquiry report

The Australian Government welcomes the report released today by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Family and Community Affairs on the Inquiry into child custody arrangements in the event of family separation.

The Government is committed to actively considering ways to improve the family law and child support system to help separating families and, most importantly, ensure the highest priority is given to what is in the best interests of children.

The Prime Minister referred a number of family law and child support issues to the Committee for consideration in June 2003. The Inquiry followed the Government’s response to the Family Law Pathways Advisory Group’s report, “Out of the Maze – Pathways to the Future for Families Experiencing Separation”.

The terms of reference for the Inquiry reflected the Government’s commitment to ensuring that, to the greatest extent possible, children have the benefit of the love and care of both their parents when a couple separate.

Specifically, the committee was asked to examine:

  • the factors that should be taken into account in deciding the time each parent should spend with their children post separation, and in particular whether there should be a presumption that parents should spend equal time with their children and, if so, the circumstances in which a presumption of equally shared care should be rebuttable;
  • in what circumstances contact between children and other persons such as grandparents should be ordered; and
  • the fairness of the existing child support formula in relation to both parents’ care of and contact with their children.

These issues are of great concern to many people in our community and is reflected by the large public involvement in this process. The Inquiry received more than 1,700 written submissions and strong interest at the 21 public hearings held around Australia.

The Government will consider the report’s broad-ranging recommendations and respond in due course. Some recommendations, particularly those with cross-government and legislative implications, will require longer-term planning and consideration.

The Inquiry has covered many difficult and emotional issues and the Government congratulates the Chair, Mrs Kay Hull MP, and the Committee for their hard work and for bringing down a unanimous report.

The report can be accessed at Parliament of Australia website