The Gillard Government will introduce new measures to strengthen Australia's laws dealing with international parental child abduction.
Announced today (19 September) by Attorney-General Robert McClelland, the measures will include new criminal offences under the Family Law Act, extend the coverage of existing offences, allow the family law courts to stop child support payments for parents who have abducted their child overseas and provide new information gathering powers to the courts to assist in locating children abducted from Australia.
"On average, two to three children are wrongfully removed from Australia or retained in another country every week by one of their parents," said McClelland. "Australia is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which provides a strong mechanism for lawfully seeking the return of abducted children."
The proposed changes are based on advice provided to the Government by the Family Law Council. Draft legislation is expected to be ready by the end of this year to be introduced in Parliament in the first half of 2012.
The Government will also consider the recommendations of the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs which is inquiring into the issue of international child abduction.