- $129 million for increased legal assistance funding to help women access justice.
- $101.4 million to increase access to Children’s Contact Services for estranged parents to safely manage the contact and changeover of children.
- $85 million in additional funding for enhanced social supports under the Family Advocacy and Support Services.
- $60.8 million to fund the reform of the family law courts to significantly shorten the time spent in litigation.
The Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, on Tuesday 11 May 2021 announced the new budget for 2021-2022. Included in this budget is an additional $416 million of funding over the next four years to be delivered to the family law system. This is to support the many women and families navigating through what can be a stressful and traumatic period involving the family courts and domestic violence.
To the family court system, the 2021-22 budget announced that the Morrison Government is committed to providing legal support for women to access justice and navigate the legal system. A legal system that has, for decades, struggled under the weight of the cases piling up. The Australian family law system is reportedly so backlogged that some judges are having to deal with more than 600 cases.
Much of this funding is geared towards the increasingly alarming issue of domestic violence within Australia. Sadly, family, domestic and sexual violence is a major health and welfare issue with 1 in 4 women and 1 in 13 men in Australia have experienced violence by an intimate partner. Therefore, this funding will be a great start towards a more accessible and efficient family law system to support these victims.
Out of the $416 million, the budget has announced $101.4 million to Children’s Contact Services. This includes the funding of a further 20 Children’s Contact Services locations to allow for more access to the service and a lessening of the wait times. A provision of $85 million of the total amount of funding is allocated for enhanced social supports. This is to be carried out through the creation of 26 new Family Advocacy and Support Services locations including in regional areas. This is especially important as women in regional and remote areas are found to be more likely to experience domestic and family violence than women in urban areas.
Additional areas receiving funding is a new initiative called the National Strategic Framework for Information Sharing between the Family Law and Family Violence and Child Protection Systems which will gain $29 million. Further, an amount of $6.3 million in additional funding to facilitate increased justice for victims of sexual assault. And finally, $4.7 million to strengthen criminal justice responses to sexual assault, sexual harassment, and coercive control.
Ultimately, this substantial amount of funding will allow for two more Family Court judges, eight more Family Circuit Court judges and an additional 80 court staff to help diminish the backlog currently worsening in the family law system. With some critics claiming that this funding is still not enough to fix the issues within the system, the impact remains to be seen.
ABOUT LARA MENON:
Lara joined the Coutts Lawyers & Conveyancers Legal team in August 2018 and is currently working as a Lawyer in our Criminal and Family Law team.
Earlier in 2019, Lara was selected by the NSW Law Society to undertake an internship with the NSW Coroner’s Court, working as a Judge’s Associate for the Deputy State Coroner.
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