Chief Justice Bryant said while overall delays in the Family Court were about 17 months from filing to hearing, some people have to wait up to three years to get their case to trial.
“I think the system is letting the people down.”
In 2015-16 almost 85,000 family law applications were filed to the Federal Circuit Court and more than 20,000 applications made to the Family Court.
The Chief Justice said the court was so under-resourced it had no ability to provide any post-order service to check whether family orders were being complied with.
“I feel as though the Government doesn’t understand the effect this is having on families,” she said.
Chief Justice Bryant called on the Federal Government to boost funding to the courts to provide money for registrars and family consultants to ease pressure on the system.
Last month four senators took up the call, passing a motion calling for action in the federal courts system.
In response, Queensland LNP senator James McGrath told the Senate the Government was committed to funding to courts.
“A funding injection of $22.5 million was announced in the 2015/16 budget together with many new administrative arrangements to support the financial sustainability of the courts and avoid cuts to frontline services,” he said.
Wendy Kayler-Thomson from the Law Council of Australia said the inability of the courts to provide timely access to justice was causing people to give up or settle for outcomes that were not in their interests or those of their children.
“I have been practising family law for 25 years and I have never see the resourcing of our family law system in such a state of crisis,” she said.
Ms Kayler-Thomson said one of the problems is that almost a third of people who move through the system represent themselves.
“We have a system clogged up by people who are representing themselves,” she said.
Tom* said it took him almost three years to get a family order giving him access to his children after his separation. But on his third access visit the children never arrived. That was a year ago and he has not seen them since.
He said the police would not get involved and his only option was to go back to the courts.
Read More: ABC News
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