We’ve just taken a strong step towards a safer family law system

The Family Court must now consider children and their safety as a priority, especially when they have experienced family violence.

The Family Law Amendment Act 2023 came into effect on Monday, May 6 2024, after a decades-long campaign from victim-survivors of family violence and the people who work with them.

The most significant change to the law is that it is now no longer a requirement for both parents to be involved in big decisions in a child’s life, like what school they go to, medical treatment or which religion they follow.

This should reduce the number of children spending time with a violent parent or carer, and mothers being controlled by them.

 The updated Family Law Act also allows Independent Children’s Lawyers to actually meet with a child they’re representing if they would like to.

And for First Nations children, the focus is how they can maintain their connection with their family, community, culture, Country and language.

The final much-needed change that happens today is that family report writers – the people who advise the court about what is in the best interests of a child – will now face consequences if they don’t meet minimum standards and requirements.

All up, this is a significant shift for Australia’s family law system.

We will continue to work across our sector to monitor the impacts of this legislative change on our clients, to ensure they are improving outcomes and keeping women and their children safe.

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You can contact Victoria Legal Aid for legal support or Safe Steps for family violence support. 


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