Despite the good face being put on it by Michelle Meares, I doubt that the changes to the Family Court system will bring about the benefits that she predicts (“Merged court system should benefit vulnerable families”, CCN 310).
Disadvantaged women, in particular, have no idea how the system works now, and these changes might look significant from a legal perspective but they are largely insignificant from the viewpoint of the intended client group.
The idea that amalgamating two courts into one will automatically improve access is absurd.
Women who are in a desperate situation are hardly in a position to appreciate the niceties of legal protocol involved in the new arrangement which has been widely criticised.
It certainly does not represent “a new and considered approach to case management”, no matter what Ms Meares says.
It is merely a measure designed to squeeze a little more performance out of a structure that is hopelessly underfunded and sinking under the weight of the load placed on it.
If the government were really concerned about the welfare of Family Court clients, it would increase the number of judges, so that cases could be heard in a timely manner.
As it is, cases can drag on for years with no resolution, causing untold mental hardship to the participants.
It is a little ironic that enormous concern is being expressed about the mental health effects of lockdowns (in which people sit in their own houses, suffering only from a little boredom of their own making), while so many who have been in genuine distress for years, as their cases drag on, apparently don’t warrant any consideration at all.
Email, Sep 30
Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy