The Federal Government is in the final stages of creating a pilot partnership program to better foster relations between community legal centres, Family Relationship Centres (FRCs) and the legal aid commissions, the Attorney General announced last week.
Speaking on the 30th anniversary of the creation of Legal Aid NSW last Friday, at Legal Aid's annual Family Law Conference, Robert Mclelland said funding has been provided to legal centres and legal aid commissions in order to better work with FRCs to assist families in addressing their legal issues.
He said that historically, there has been too much of a divide between the assistance relationship services provide, and the assistance lawyers provide.
"Research suggests that some of the prejudices between lawyers and non-legal mediators
are, sadly, yet to be done away with," he said. "The clichés run that lawyers think mediators cross the line and provide legal advice, while mediators think that lawyers don't focus enough on children."
McClelland said improved relationships could see the development of legal information sessions for parents run at FRCs - as well as the FRCs hosting the availability of legal advice, and assistance with drafting consent orders for family dispute resolution. He added that the pilot program will also see training and mentoring provided for both FRC staff and lawyers
McCelland also praised the current development of a multi-disciplinary package of family relations training for judicial officers, counselors and lawyers, which he believes will "improve consistency in the handling of cases involving family violence, and ensure professionals are properly equipped to work with families at risk".