Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Australia says Yes to Marriage Equality

Australians have clearly said Yes to marriage equality. So what do we do now?

 

Australia Says Yes to Marriage Equality

Australians have clearly said Yes to marriage equality. So what do we do now?

Cassandra Pullos says what happens next may not be as simple as you might think. The Yes result does not automatically legalise same sex marriage. It was a non-binding survey with no legal clout.

However Australians have clearly supported same sex marriage with more than 61 per cent of more than 12 million respondents saying Yes.

We will now see the second stage of the marriage equality debate begin because it’s not as simple as just passing a new law.

There will be debate over what the proposed legislation will look like, probably argument over the fine print and so on.

Although the result – 61.6 per cent Yes, 38.4 per cent No- sends a clear message to our legislators, Cassandra says we can now expect renewed focus on parliament in Canberra where competing factions will debate over what form any legislation may take.

Those hoping that same sex marriage would be made legal by Christmas should not get their hopes up yet.

A same-sex marriage bill has to pass both the House of Representatives and the Senate before it can be made law by the Governor-General.

How our politicians decide to vote is, ultimately, up to them but they will do this mindful that the vast majority of Australians surveyed in the poll want marriage equality.

Cassandra says family lawyers are closely following developments as the legalising of same sex marriages represents one of the biggest changes ever to Australian family law.

If you need advice or assistance, call us on 07 5526 3646 or email us at cjp@pulloslawyers.com.au and one of our expert family lawyers will be able to assist you.


 

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Friday, October 20, 2017
Govt Urged to Clarify Southport Domestic Violence Court Magistrate Numbers

Cassandra Pullos has welcomed the appointment of two new Magistrates to the Southport Domestic Violence Court, but says the State Government should clarify whether they are in addition to magistrate numbers or are replacing previous magistrates.

Govt Urged to Clarify Southport Domestic Violence Court Magistrate Numbers

Cassandra Pullos has welcomed the appointment of two new Magistrates to the Southport Domestic Violence Court, but says the State Government should clarify whether they are in addition to magistrate numbers or are replacing previous magistrates.

The Attorney General has announced four out of eight new magistrates appointed in Queensland will be based on the Gold Coast, with two of them specialising with domestic and family violence cases.

Cassandra welcomed the appointment of Clare Kelly and Louise Shepherd who will take up their specialist roles at the now-permanent Southport Domestic and Family Violence Court in a few weeks.

However she says there is some uncertainty on whether they represent an increase in magistrate numbers or just replace the previous magistrates.

Cassandra applauds the recognition of the need to have permanent DV magistrates, but experience showed more than the two announced are needed.

“The DV magistrates we have had have worked tirelessly to address a staggering workload."

“Their expertise has eased the stress for litigants and gone someway to address the delays – but delays are still there and we need a “running review” and the capacity to move extra DV magistrates into the roles when needed,” she says.

In June Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath announced funding for two permanent DV magistrates at Southport Courthouse.

The two magistrates sitting in the Gold Coast’s Specialist Domestic and Family Violence Court at that time were previously temporary positions.

Cassandra says the current magistrate situation at the DV court is unclear.

“Are these two new Magistrates in addition to the existing one - or are they replacements for the original two magistrates we had, in which case we would be back to the earlier status quo”.

As a matter of urgency the Attorney-General should clarify magistrate numbers for the Southport DV court.

“Our DV Court Magistrates have been highly regarded for their commitment but the volume of matters before the court has been accelerating and more resources are needed”.

“I would suggest ALL magistrates need specialist DV training, regularly updated – both in the law and the social science around DV for both victims and perpetrators so we have as much flexibility in our magistrates Courts as possible to deal with the DV workload as it is required,” Cassandra says.

“We are committed supporters of the specialist Domestic Violence court and we recognise the dedication of the Magistrates and the court staff.

Cassandra believes a bigger DV court budget would enable more court staff for administration tasks, and better funding for Legal Aid is another priority to fund more duty lawyers.

“Our DV court is an invaluable resource for the Gold Coast. I welcome the appointment of two new DV Court Magistrates but I’m hoping they represent an expansion of DV Court services, not just a maintaining the status quo situation”, she says.

If you need advice or assistance, call us on 07 5526 3646 or email us at cjp@pulloslawyers.com.au and one of our expert family lawyers will be able to assist you.

 

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Friday, September 29, 2017
Family Law Review Must Rectify Under Funded, Over-worked System

Australia’s family law system – subject to its most comprehensive review in 40 years - is chronically under-funded and its Judges chronically over-worked. Cassandra Pullos says the family law review, due to begin in October, is long overdue and a priority should be to increase funding and resources because Judges are swamped with the sheer volume of matters they have to consider each day.


Family Law Review Must Rectify Under Funded, Over-worked System

Australia’s family law system – subject to its most comprehensive review in 40 years - is chronically under-funded and its Judges chronically over-worked. Cassandra Pullos says the family law review, due to begin in October, is long overdue and a priority should be to increase funding and resources because Judges are swamped with the sheer volume of matters they have to consider each day.

“I had a matter on the Judge’s List recently and the Judge had to get through 40 matters in one day. It means on average judges have barely 10 minutes per matter which is an intolerable burden on them and does not accord the proper amount of time each matter may need,” she says.

Cassandra says the community should strongly endorse the wide-ranging review, and be open to embracing alternative means to resolve divorce and parenting issues in a non- adversarial way.

Attorney-General George Brandis announced the review will be led by the Australian Law Reform Commission headed by Professor Helen Rhoades, and has until March 31, 2019 to report its findings.

Cassandra says the current Family Law system works on an adversarial approach to every family law matter. While there will always be cases that need to go before a Judge, more could be done to find non-adversarial solutions.

“At present every case goes through an adversarial “funnel” so we need to find a better way which reduces pressure on the courts and those needing their separation and parenting matters resolved,” she says.

“Over the next year or so you’re going to see heightened focus on the issues and what needs to be done to salvage our family law system.”

Cassandra strongly supports Collaborative practice, parenting co-ordination and increased use of arbitration and mediation as measures worth more investment.

The review’s terms of reference are broad but will address ensuring the family law system prioritises the best interests of children, measures to address family violence and child abuse, supports families and allows disputes to be resolved quickly and safely with minimal financial burden.

Cassandra agrees with an Australian Law Council assessment that any meaningful, long-term reform will need significant funding.

“Family law specialists would support measures which reduce congestion and pressure on the Family Court because, by extension, they could ease the process of separation for couples.

“In particular I strongly support measures that ensure the best interests of children are protected during the divorce process.

“Too often children are the unseen casualties of divorce wars fought by their parents, which is why an increasing number of family law specialists advocate the Collaborative Law approach to separation.

“Under this method couples resolve to find agreements outside the court system, mindful that it can take several years for a divorce to make its way through the Family Court logjam. This can impose enormous pressures on the children of separating partners,” she says.

An important new avenue to explore is parenting co-ordination, well established in America and Canada, and now offered in Australia. It employs a parenting coordinator, a person trained in dispute resolution, who can help parents achieve post-order parenting plan goals without having to constantly seek a Judge’s decision on every problem.

“Parenting co-ordinators work well in the American and Canadian family law systems and I believe they could be a major asset in Australia’s family law system too,” Cassandra says.

Increasingly, family lawyers view the under-resourced Family Court with its lengthy wait times for a final hearing- in some cases up to 3 years- as a major cause of disenchantment with the system.

“An avenue to explore is how we can enhance court resources while working to resolve most separation and parenting matters away from the courts through collaboration and co-operation, and have only the most extreme cases, where participants have no hope of resolution, go before the court for a decision,” she says.

Cassandra feels the next year could be the most important in family law for Australia since the Family Law Act was established in 1975.

“We welcome the review and should embrace what it represents to bringing stability and trust back into our family law system,” she says.

If you need advice or assistance, call us on 07 5526 3646 or email us at cjp@pulloslawyers.com.au and one of our expert family lawyers will be able to assist you.

 

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017
A Reminder to Mothers and Fathers – You're Both Still Parents Post-Divorce

Too often children are the biggest casualties of a relationship breakdown. It can be hard work to recreate your parenting relationship into a functioning, healthy one post separation.


A Reminder to Mothers and Fathers - You're  Both Still Parents Post-Divorce

Too often children are the biggest casualties of a relationship breakdown. It can be hard work to recreate your parenting relationship into a functioning, healthy one post separation.

Often following a separation, children live primarily with one parent, and this can sometimes leave the other parent feeling marginalised and unsure of their role. This might happen at the point you separated, one parent usually takes a decision to leave the home. It may have been a feature of your parenting relationship before you separated.

Parenting roles and involvement evolve and change over the short term and the long term. Separation is challenging and difficult for parents to manage their own emotions and feelings, and sometimes those adult emotions get in the way, either for a short time or a much longer time, of positive, supportive parenting of the children who are also going through a very difficult period in their young lives.

Some parents choose to walk away, some think it’s too hard to do otherwise. Others think it’s the right thing to do for the children. In my experience it almost never is either the easy or the right thing to do.

In my over 30 years in practice I have seen the effects on children of having no relationship with a parent post-divorce.

As a family law specialist I emphasise to separating couples the need for them to continue their roles as parents and take an active and ongoing role in their children’s’ lives.

If a parent moves out of the family home, it does not and should not mean that they vanish from their children’s lives, nor does their role need to diminish, in fact it can grow in importance with children needing more positive input from both their parents to help them through the difficult time of their parents separation.

The popular media obsesses about the “me” factor. Who gets what in the split? The money, the material assets and “who gets the kids”. Parents will do better for their children by focusing on what arrangements are best for their children’s care and development than on what percentage of time they want to pursue.

Separation and divorce are among the most traumatic experiences people can endure so imagine the potential psychological impact on children. Many children think they are somehow responsible for their parents divorcing, many feel like they are stuck in a tug-o-war with the 2 people they love and trust most in the world. Many can’t express those feeling to either parents and are left feeling lost and afraid.

At such times both parents need to show unity in reassuring their children and striving to achieve a sense of ongoing parental normality post-divorce.

For the parent with whom the children live, this means ensuring they remain connected to the other parent, keeping the lines of communication open, regular visits where possible and shared parenting if this is workable.

Do not assume your children understand or accept the life-changing events that follow a marriage or relationship breakdown. If your child says little about it, it could just be they are unable to express their conflicting emotions.

Embrace the fact that you will always be their parent and that doesn’t change even though you and your partner have parted ways. It is crucial for children in such circumstances to retain relationships with both parents.

It may not be easy, especially if the children don’t live with you all the time. In such circumstances ensure that neither parent retreats from their children’s’ lives. This is the worst thing you could do.

Your role as a Mum or Dad does not stop when the divorce is finalised.

Resist any thoughts that the children will be fine with the parent they live with and won’t need you in their lives. Worse would be assuming that if your ex has found a new partner, this step-parent can assume your role.

To your child, this attitude could be interpreted as you rejecting them and generate enormous emotions of guilt and unworthiness.

Your children will grow to adulthood and your relationship with them now could influence how they regard you for the rest of their lives.

Family lawyers encourage separating couples with children to collaborate on ways to maintain a sense of normalcy for their children. This can mean setting aside any of the issues which contributed to the end of the relationship, and focussing forward on the children’s best interests.

A dispute resolution process known as parenting co-ordination, popular in America and Canada, is also gaining traction in Australia. In its broadest sense it’s aimed at helping children of parents locked in unyielding divorce conflict.

If you find yourself in a high conflict parenting relationship we can advise you about appointing a parenting coordinator. Cassandra Pullos, our firms founder, is a trained parenting coordinator and is available to assist you in that role or to refer you other trained parenting coordinators if that is more appropriate.

The benefits of adopting one of the non-adversarial approaches to working out arrangements for your children post separation, or of appointing a parenting coordinator if you are in a high conflict situation, can be lifelong - for you and your children.

If you need advice or assistance, call us on 07 5526 3646 or email us at cjp@pulloslawyers.com.au and one of our expert family lawyers will be able to assist you.  For more information on dispute resolution, contact us here.

 

 

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Thursday, September 14, 2017
Review of Family Law Act Welcomed

One of the most significant reviews of Australia’s Family Law Act in 40 years has been endorsed by the outgoing Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant AO.

Review of Family Law Act Welcomed

One of the most significant reviews of Australia’s Family Law Act in 40 years has been endorsed by the outgoing Family Court Chief Justice Diana Bryant AO.

 

In an interview with Fairfax Media she noted the need for a “thorough overhaul” of the structure of the Act and that attention should be given to making it “a much more comprehensive statute to read”.
 
“This task will be considerable in itself,” the Chief Justice told Fairfax in an article featured in the legal publication Lawyers Weekly. Pullos Lawyers supports the review of the Family Law Act and is sharing this information as we believe the wider community needs to be aware of the changes.
 
Attorney-General George Brandis announced plans for the review during the Federal Budget in May, and revealed that the Commonwealth would commit an additional $80 million to family law and family violence services.
Of that allocation, $12.7 million will establish parent management hearings and $3.56 million will go towards the pilot of new specialist domestic violence units.
 
Mr Brandis said in a statement that the review would be used to “contemporise” the family law system, with a final report due in 2018 that provides a roadmap for making dispute resolution simpler.
 
The extra resourcing for the Family Court system was welcome by the outgoing Chief Justice, who will retire in October. She applauded the funding made available for an extra 17 family consultants to support the Family Court, Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of WA; as well as support for a trial workload management program boasting three new registrars.
 
“I am hoping we can demonstrate the usefulness of this resource and make a case for additional registrars when the evaluation concludes,” the Chief Justice said.
 
“There is a compelling need to provide resources to support the judges.”
 
Family lawyers across Australia have also welcomed the measures and the extent to which the additional resources can alleviate pressures on the courts.
 
Cassandra Pullos says family law specialists would support measures which reduce congestion and pressure on the Family Court because, by extension, they could ease the process of separation for couples.
 
In particular she strongly supports measures that ensure the best interests of children are protected during the divorce process.
 
“Too often children are the unseen casualties of divorce wars fought by their parents, which is why an increasing number of family law specialists advocate the Collaborative Law approach to separation.
 
“Under this method couples resolve to find agreements outside the court system, mindful that it can take several years for a divorce to make its way through the Family Court logjam. This can impose enormous pressures on the children of separating partners.”
 
Terms of reference for the comprehensive review are expected to be made available by the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) soon. It will be the first major review of the legislation since it was introduced in 1976.
 
If you need advice or assistance, call us on 07 5526 3646 or email us at cjp@pulloslawyers.com.au and one of our expert family lawyers will be able to assist you. For more information on dispute resolution options contact us here.

 

 

 

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Monday, August 21, 2017
Has Your Ex Okayed Your Overseas Holiday With The Kids?

Separated and planning a school holidays ski trip to NZ with the kids? Make sure you don't get stopped at the airport if you don't have your ex's okay for the kids to travel overseas.

Has your Ex Okayed Your Overseas Holiday with the Kids?

Separated and planning a school holidays ski trip to NZ with the kids?  Make sure you don't get stopped at the airport if you don't have your ex's okay for the kids to travel overseas.

Cassandras Pullos says with the September school holidays approaching, separated people intending to do any overseas travel with children are reminded that there may be some travel complications to resolve.
 
“If you have any orders in place relating to your children then, unless you have an Order allowing you to take your children overseas, or unless you have the consent of both parents, (that permission needs to be in writing and the signature “authenticated” – a peculiar and specific legal requirement you will need advice about), then you will be committing an offence if you take your children outside the Commonwealth of Australia.
 
“It’s punishable by a fine and/or a jail term and should be taken seriously.  There’s also the embarrassment, frustration and loss of fares plus the lost holidays factors if you are stopped at the airport or cruise terminal if the other parent has placed the child’s name on an airport watchlist,” Cassandra says.
 
The rules are in place to prevent a parent abducting their children and fleeing overseas with them.
 
Cassandra says the requirement does not apply to couples who are still together but taking separate holidays, with no orders in place regarding their children.
 
The Family Law Act only requires the formal written consent, in writing and authenticated, where there are Orders in place in relation to a child.  However, even if you have no orders in place – you should still have the consent of the other parent for travel with the children, to avoid potentially significant problems down the track.
 
If you need advice or assistance, call us on 07 5526 3646 or contact us here and one of our expert family lawyers will be able to assist.

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Monday, August 14, 2017
Marriage Equality Debate Deserves Respect

Cassandra Pullos says the Government's decision to put marriage equality to a postal ballot should not be a signal to unleash hate attitudes o the subject of same sex marriage.

Marriage Equality Debate Deserves Respect

Cassandra Pullos says the Government's decision to put marriage equality to a postal ballot should not be a signal to unleash hate attitudes on the subject of same sex marriage.
 
She urges Australians to discuss legalising same sex marriage free of ugly or divisive abuse from people holding strongly opposing views.
 
As a family lawyer Cassandra feels a voluntary, non-binding postal ballot at an estimated cost of $122 million is not the best way to determine marriage equality.  Instead, Australia's politicians should do what they were elected to do as our representatives in government - introduce legislation to the parliament and vote on it.
 
She recognises, however, that the argument on that point, for the time being, is over - we now have a postal "vote", that is not binding.  It isn't a "vote".  It's an opportunity to express, in a poll to be conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, individual support or opposition for marriage equality.
 
Former High Court Judge and marriage equality advocate Michael Kirby is quoted in media reports saying "It's a completely novel, voluntary, non-binding, non-compulsory vote of a few citizens and it's just something we've never done in our constitutional arrangements, and it really is unacceptable."
 
In the days since the issue erupted in the media, people holding opposing views have voiced strong opinions both for and against legalising same sex marriage here.
 
Cassandra says sadly, some of those views are extreme and personal with social media forums such as Facebook especially vulnerable to hateful and bigoted attacks.
 
"Many people feel the fact that same sex marriage is still not legal in Australia is discriminatory and a breach of fundamental human rights and we are lagging behind many nations that now have marriage equality.  Others reject this view."  
 
"What matters is everyone is entitled to an opinion on this subject.  Everyone's view deserves to be regarded with respect, whether you agree with it or not."  
 
As a family lawyer Cassandra notes that Australian law already recognises same sex couples in many areas, including under the Family Law Act in recognising that a defacto relationship includes a relationship between two people of the same gender.  
 
Cassandra believes now is the time for the Australian community to show we can have the marriage equality debate in a respectful way without descending into insults and, worse, disrespect and hate speech.  
 
"We need to have a balanced and reasoned public debate conducted with respect and dignity."  
 
Now there are reports that supporters of both sides of the issue plan to spend up to $30m each on their respective advertising campaigns.  
 
"In the face of such campaigns with that sort of reach it is our responsibility as citizens of a civilised nation to maintain the capacity to respect each other's views and engage in informed and reasoned debate."  
 
"If we can't have the ability to step into the shoes of people with opposing views and see the issue from their perspective - whilst not agreeing with them - we risk dividing our nation in a way that might take us as a society many years to recover from," she says.  
 
If you need advice or assistance, contact us and one of our expert family lawyers will be able to assist you. 

 

 

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Wednesday, August 02, 2017
Stop Dithering - Legalise Same Sex Marriage

Cassandra Pullos has a strong message for Australia’s politicians - stop dithering and make same sex marriage legal.

Stop Dithering - Legalise Same Sex Marriage

Cassandra Pullos has a strong message for Australia’s politicians- stop dithering and make same sex marriage legal.

She says reports of political in-fighting with same sex marriage as a bargaining lever would anger Australians who believe we should have marriage equality now, as a significant number of other countries have already done.
 
Cassandra says the fact that same sex marriage was still not legal in Australia was discriminatory and we are lagging behind many nations that now have marriage equality.
 
New Zealand legalised same sex marriage in 2013 - the first Asia/ Pacific country to do so and Britain voted to make it legal in 2014. Internationally, laws making it legal for same sex couples to marry have been enacted in many countries as diverse as the United States, the Netherlands, Ireland, Argentina, Mexico, South Africa and Germany.
 
“Germany just recently voted for marriage equality after German Chancellor Angela Merkel said politicians could follow their own conscience rather than the party line on the issue.
 
“There was very little debate or fuss over the German vote, yet here in Australia same sex marriage is being used as a political weapon for party in-fighting while others continue to push some Victorian-era mindset about what constitutes marriage,” she says.
 
“If Germany and New Zealand can introduce marriage equality without drama, why can’t we?” Cassandra says.
 
It is ridiculous that a same sex couple could legally marry in New Zealand but their marriage is not recognised in Australia.
 
More than 760 million people in the world live in more than 22 countries which legally recognise same sex marriage. Against this background, Australia was lagging behind the rest of the world.
 
Cassandra does not feel there is a need for a national referendum on the issue.
 
“This is not a referendum issue, there is no requirement to change the Constitution to bring it in. Our elected representatives need to do the job we elected them to do and introduce the legislation into parliament and vote on it as our representatives as they do on every other piece of legislation.
 
“As with other pieces of legislation that have a moral element to them they should also be allowed a conscience vote and not be required to vote along party lines. If we had a plebiscite every time a difficult piece of legislation came before parliament the nation would come to a standstill.
 
“It’s simple, introduce the legislation, have the usual parliamentary debate followed by a parliamentary vote in which politicians in all parties are allowed a conscience vote rather than being required to vote along party lines. It needs to be done immediately,” Cassandra says.
 
If you need advice or assistance, call us on 07 5526 3646 or contact us and one of our expert family lawyers will be able to assist you.


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Tuesday, July 11, 2017
Fair Work, Employers Groups Fail Workers on Domestic Violence Leave

The Fair Work Commission is being urged to re-think its rejection of a union bid for 10 days of paid domestic violence leave for all employees.

Fair Work, Employers Groups Fail Workers on Domestic Violence Leave

The Fair Work Commission is being urged to re-think its rejection of a union bid for 10 days of paid domestic violence leave for all employees.

Cassandra Pullos says the full bench of the Fair Work Commission should review its "preliminary view" that while it is necessary to make provisions for family and domestic violence leave, it rejected an application for 10 days of leave to be covered under all modern awards for all employees.
 
Cassandra says it is extremely disappointing that the commission has said it did not approve the Australian Council of Trade Unions application because it was not satisfied "at this time, that it is necessary to provide 10 days paid family and domestic violence leave to all employees covered by modern awards.
 
She is especially critical of remarks from employer groups, welcoming Fair Work’s stance and saying paid leave, unpaid leave and flexible working arrangements are already available options where employees experience domestic violence.
 
“Comments by the employer groups that carers leave and annual leave suffice might work for those workers who have leave entitlements owing – but what about those who don’t?
 
“Domestic violence isn’t usually a one off event. It often causes incremental and increasing absences from work and is in addition to the burden of days lost by illness of both the parent and their children, and on occasion parents that the domestic violence victim might also be caring for,” Cassandra says.
 
She has acknowledged Fair Work’s preliminary view that all employees should have access to unpaid family and domestic violence leave and in addition its preliminary view that employees should be able to access personal/carer's leave for the purpose of taking family and domestic violence leave.
 
However she feels much more could be done and reiterates her view that domestic violence leave should be a compulsory element in every workplace in 2017, the same way personal and holiday leave is provided for by law.
 
“We as a community are starting to take big steps in recognising the widespread prevalence of domestic violence, across all socio economic groups as a whole of community issue. As a whole of community issue it needs a workplace response as one, essential, part of a whole of community response to domestic violence.
 
“Enabling victims to access personal and carers leave for the purposes of family and domestic violence leave is one step – but it’s not enough. Specific Family and domestic violence leave is also needed,” she says.
 
“Not only does it provide victims with the workplace support they need in a more meaningful way than being restricted to whatever personal and annual leave they have available to them, if any, it also send a very strong and powerful message about the communities response to domestic violence and a recognition that this is a whole of community responsibility” .
 
Cassandra says Queensland public sector workers are entitled to paid domestic violence leave and it should become a standard provision in all workplaces.
 
“Domestic violence is a growing national crisis and paid leave for those affected by it should be seen as necessary and not confined to just public sector employees,” she says.
 
Late last year Queensland became the first jurisdiction to legislate paid domestic and family violence for public sector workers. Several Australian law firms are now offering domestic violence leave to staff but it was on an ad hoc basis with no formal, profession-wide policy.
 
“We support this call for domestic violence leave to be available across the board to everyone affected by it as one of the ways in which the business community can recognise the toll domestic and family violence can take on employees,” Cassandra says.
 
The State’s provisions for its employees entitles them to up 10 days of paid leave to attend medical, legal and counselling appointments and arrange alternative accommodation and child care assistance.
 
Cassandra says the legal profession should take a prominent role in advocating change to protect DV victims and advocate tougher penalties for those who commit domestic violence.
 
She believes the business community could play a crucial and influential role for change especially in opening the closed doors of a behaviour that still carries a worrying stigma for many victims, and which perpetrators of domestic and family violence exploit to their own benefit.
 
“One of the key messages we need to convey in 2017 is to push for change on the understanding that domestic violence leave is not and should not be just seen as a holiday.
 
“Domestic violence is so widespread and ingrained, it needs a whole of Government and Community approach to eradicate it. Up until now various groups and agencies have been working almost independently and in isolation on DV solutions.
 
“The current splintered approach needs to refocus around a robust policy to protect and help victims and deter and appropriately punish domestic violence offenders,” she says.
 
Legislating domestic violence leave as an entitlement for all workers, irrespective of their profession or industry, is a worthy target for addressing DV in 2017, Cassandra says.
 
If you need advice or assistance, call us on 07 5526 3646 or contact us and one of our expert family lawyers will be able to assist you.


 

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Monday, May 15, 2017
Federal Budget - Implications for Family Law

The 2017-18 Federal Budget, released Monday 9th May, has been received with mixed feelings by the Family Law Section.

Federal Budget - Implications for Family Law  

The 2017-18 Federal Budget, released Monday 9 May, has been received with mixed feelings by the Family Law Section.

Disappointingly, the budget did not include the significant funding increase required to solve some of the current challenges faced by the existing Family Court framework. Extended delays within the court system are set to continue without the economic attention necessary to address them. Legal Aid funding also failed to receive the budget consideration it requires.
 
A welcome injection of $10.7 million to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, the Family Court of Australia and the Family Court of Western Australia will help to support vulnerable families by engaging more family consultants.
 
The establishment of ‘Parenting Management Hearings’ has been afforded $12.7 million. Attorney-General, Hon George Brandis QC, outlined these hearings as an innovative solution to resolving “more straight-forward family law disputes between self-represented litigants”.
 
These hearings will be introduced with the aim to lessen the stress placed on the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court. Diversified resolution options should help streamline the litigation process and help to unclog the court system, encouraging a more timely litigation process. It appears that hearings will be trialled in Parramatta, with a second site yet to be identified. The Federal Court of Australia will have administrative responsibility.
 
Particularly important was the announcement that Australian family law will undergo a comprehensive review by the Australian Law Reform Commission. This review will be focused on ensuring that the contemporary needs of modern Australian families are being met by Australian family law. Of particular interest will be frameworks for addressing family violence and child abuse. The Commission will present its report by the end of 2018.
 
Accompanying the Budget was the Attorney-General’s assurance that public consultation regarding proposed changes to the Family Law Act would commence shorty. The proposed changes detail measures to ensure that victims of family violence are not put in the position of being personally cross-examined, or having to cross-examining their alleged perpetrator/s of violence.
 
If you need advice or assistance with any family law issue, call us on 07 5526 3646 or contact us.

 

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