On Tuesday night the Australian Government announced the new Federal budget. If, like me, you are a bit of a political nerd, this would have been quite the riveting event for you and you probably know everything I’m about to explain. If not, read on, as I am going to explain what the Federal budget will mean for family law.
From Tuesday night’s Budget announcement, here is the take home summary:
- In addition to the previously announced $150 million as a support package to reduce domestic and family violence, additional funding was announced. This will help to fund additional counselling services, such as through 1800 Respect. This will help victims of family violence by providing more much needed counselling services, including counselling that can be accessed remotely in times of Covid-19 and by victims in rural and remote areas.
- $87.3 million in additional funding for early intervention family law services (such as mediation). This will help parties by providing access for those going through a separation, to services which will assist and hopefully enable many of them to resolve their matters without the need to proceed to Court. This will ultimately help to save parties significant amounts in legal fees, save public funding by reducing the number of litigated cases Legal Aid will need to fund and reduce the number of children exposed to protracted litigation and conflict between their parents.
- $35,7 million has been committed for additional resources and Judges for the Federal Circuit
This should help to relieve the pressure Judges have to hear the overwhelming amount of cases that come before the Courts. Currently there are far too few Judges in each Registry for the amount of cases that are filed in each Registry every year. With more Judges funded and more Judges appointed, cases will be able to be determined more quickly, leading to less delays for parties, and less exposure to the litigation for the children subject to the proceedings.
- $4.8 million in additional funding for the Family Violence Cross Examination Scheme. This is a scheme which currently exists (but was in danger of running out of funding). This scheme protects victims of family violence from further trauma in the Court system, by preventing the perpetrator from cross examining them in Hearings and preventing the victim from having to cross examine the perpetrator. The scheme is funded through Legal Aid and works by appointing solicitors to represent either the victim and/or perpetrator (if they are unrepresented) at the Final Hearing.
- $2.5 million in additional funding to the Courts to allow urgent matters such as Recovery Applications to be heard on an urgent basis through a specialist Covid-19 list. This will help parties and children by ensuring that urgent Applications and matters are given the immediacy and priority they need.
- $1.8 million in funding to implement enforceable federal family violence Orders. This is the one that the least information is available for, so watch this space.
If you would like to know more or have any questions regarding the federal budget and the impact it has on family law, please contact our office on (02) 4050 0330 to make an appointment or book online.