FRSA Conference Update: ‘Long way to go’ to hear children voices in court

Australia’s top family Court judge has warned that family law services are still not doing enough to include children in family court proceedings.

“We know children want to be listened to,” Chief Justice Diana Bryant said at the Family and Relationships Services Australia conference in Adelaide,”but not make the final decisions.”

However Chief Justice Bryant, who previously launched the Family Law DOORS risk assessment framework by Dr. Jennifer McIntosh of Family Transitions and Dr. Claire Ralfs of Relationships Australia (SA), paid tribute to Australian courts’ use of the Independent Children’s Lawyer. Pointing out this was internationally recognised as good practice, Chief Justice Bryant said that the Children’s Lawyer was allowed by law to meet children before representing their best interests in court and to provide feedback to them afterwards.

Families using mediation services at Relationships Australia (SA) may be suitable for child consultancy, a process where children are interviewed and represented by specially trained children’s worker.