The Law Council of Australia has applauded the Senate’s passing of a motion which calls for adequate funding of the Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court.
The motion, which passed 39 to 27, concluded three key aspects. Firstly, that the Federal Circuit Court and the Family Court have inadequate funding. Secondly, that inadequate resourcing of the family law system has created a snowball effect, the social and economic cost of which will be felt by the community for years to come. And thirdly, that a clear plan for the future is needed, a statement from the LCA said.
In addition, the LCA noted that the motion also calls for the “tabling of the 2014 KMPG report into the funding of the federal courts, and the Ernst & Young associated costings, prior to the Senate voting on the Family Law Amendment (Parenting Management Hearings) Bill 2017”.
“This motion makes patently clear that the Australian Senate recognises our Federal Circuit Court and our Family Court are in crisis,” said LCA president Morry Bailes.
“On behalf of all Australians who will engage with our justice system, we urge the government to heed the Senate’s concerns and provide our courts with the funding required to effectively fulfil their role.”
Currently, parties can be forced to wait up to three years before a final hearing, which Mr Bailes described as being unacceptable.
“It is unacceptable that in a nation as prosperous as Australia, we are seeing families facing the prospect of being forced to wait up to three years before finalising cases involving disputes around children and property and allegations of family violence,” he explained.
“These delays add unnecessary stress to what is likely a very painful and difficult time for the families involved.”
Mr Bailes added that “while the Law Council recognises the importance of the current review of the family law system, we would urge the government not to cite it as a reason to delay increasing funding”.
“We are grateful the Senate has recognised the justice crisis and that it has expressed its collective view so powerfully,” he said.
“The upcoming budget is a chance for the Australian government to recognise the crisis in our courts and take steps to ensure Australians have timely access to justice.”