The crisis

Our family law system is in crisis.

Every day women are left traumatised and children are left in the hands of abusive parents as the family law system struggles to recognise and respond to risk.

The key problems in the system: 

  • There are no domestic violence specialists based in the Federal Circuit Court or Family Court registries that can identify and manage risk to children at an early stage in a case.
  • There are no support services based at the Federal Circuit Court or Family Court that can link families in with drug and alcohol programs, child and youth support programs and domestic violence and housing services.
  • Women and children from communities that are at the highest risk of domestic violence are the least likely to be able to access the family law system. This includes women and children from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities.
  • Domestic violence victims are being directly cross-examined by or at risk of direct cross-examination by the perpetrator of the violence in family courts.
  • Over 30% of parties in the Family Court are unrepresented. The most disadvantaged Australians struggle to access assistance in family law cases from community legal centres and legal aid commissions due to limited Federal funding. This Fair Agenda video tells the story of why community legal centres are necessary to support family violence survivors.
  • There is limited understanding of domestic violence, trauma and cultural issues amongst family law professionals. Family law professionals include family consultants (expert witnesses), independent children’s lawyers, family lawyers and judges.
  • It is difficult to access safe and legally assisted mediation, forcing parties to engage in protracted court battles.

See our Safety First 5-step Plan for how things could change.