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Family violence reforms generate strong reaction

Family violence reforms generate strong reaction

The Gillard Government's has released proposed amendments to the Family Law Act, which seek to provide better protection for children and families at risk of violence. With more than 400…

The Gillard Government's has released proposed amendments to the Family Law Act, which seek to provide better protection for children and families at risk of violence.

With more than 400 submissions received during the public consultation process, the Family Violence Bill has attracted a predominantly positive response from peak bodies and organisations within the family law system.

The Family Law Amendment (Family Violence) Bill focuses on prioritising the safety of children by strengthening the role of family courts, advisers and parents in preventing harm to children, while continuing to support the concept of shared parental responsibility and shared care where children are safe.

Seventy-three per cent of respondents have expressed support for the new measures, which include broader definitions of family violence and child abuse, the removal of the mandatory costs orders provision and changes to the 'friendly parent' provision.

"The public interest generated by the Family Violence Bill demonstrates that family violence is a significant concern within the Australian community," said Attorney-General Robert McClelland.

Along with the Family Violence Bill, the Gillard Government has implemented complementary measures to strengthen the family law system's response to family violence and child abuse. These include training packages for lawyers, judicial officers and counsellors to improve consistency in the handling of family violence cases; a pilot of coordinated family dispute resolution for families experiencing violence; the development of minimum guidelines for screening and risk assessment for family violence and improving collaboration between the federal family law and the state and territory child protection systems.

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