The Australian Greens have welcomed Attorney-General Robert McClelland’s announcement that the Federal Government intends to amend the family law system to place a greater focus on child safety.
Senator Rachel Siewert said today The Greens strongly opposed some of the changes to the Family Law Act introduced by the Howard Government in 2006, saying the changes were not in the best interests of the child.
“The 2006 amendments clearly put the rights of parents ahead of the interests of children, and changed the way shared custody cases were dealt with,” Senator Siewert said today.
“The Howard Government deliberately worded the amendments in such a way that there is a de facto presumption of equal time. The notion of equal shared parenting as amended in 2006 reflected a commodification of children that failed to address the best interests of the child.
“It was obvious at the time that the changes to the definition of domestic violence – along with the introduction of fines for making ‘unsubstantiated' claims of abuse – were going to put some women and children at risk.
“Unfortunately the warnings of family law experts to the Senate inquiry in 2006 were ignored, the changes went ahead, and some children suffered as a result.
“In amending the Family Law Act, the Government can still maintain shared care as an important starting point for family law, but ensure at the same time that children are not put at risk.
“The Greens strongly believe that we need to ensure that we encourage and support separated families who are seeking constructive solutions to shared parenting,” concluded Senator Siewert.