Malcolm Turnbull has acknowledged serious issues confronting Australia’s family law system, telling child-protection advocate Hetty Johnston yesterday he would turn his mind to what the Bravehearts founder calls “the most dangerous institution for children in the country”.
Ms Johnston presented the Prime Minister with a Change.org petition with 50,000 signatures calling for a royal commission into the family law system that would expand on frameworks built by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
To highlight the need for reforms, she also handed over a 277-page report canvassing insights from 320 families and professionals with experience of the Family Court that used 15 case studies where children were placed at direct risk of sexual harm by family law systems.
“We had a good meeting,” Ms Johnston said. “No promises yet but he’s certainly acknowledged that the issues exist and he’s going to turn his mind to it. We’ll give him some time to have a look at what we’ve given him. He was genuinely interested.”
The meeting coincided with the release by federal Attorney-General George Brandis of the Family Law Council’s final report on families with complex needs and how they intersect with family law and child protection.
The report recommends a “comprehensive review” of aspects of the Family Law Act to increase the focus on child safety and calls for “early whole-of-family risk assessments” that are admissible in court.
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