Young people encouraged to speak out on family law experience

Commissioner for Children and Young People

The Commissioner for Children and Young People, Colin Pettit is seeking contributions from young people as to how they can be better supported through the Family Court system. The feedback is in support of the national review currently being undertaken by the Australian Law Reform Commission into the family law system.

Mr Pettit said he wanted to ensure that the views of children and young people in WA were included in the review process.

‘The Family Court’s role in assessing the best interests of the children when making orders is very important, so children and young people need to be well supported to have a say in issues that affect them. I am interested to hear from young people who have been through this experience on what they found helpful in the process, and any ideas they have to improve the experience for children and young people,’ Mr Pettit said.

Mr Pettit added, ‘During family separation and divorce proceedings children can be exposed to conflict between the important people in their lives and are often asked to disclose personal family information. This presents real challenges in ensuring that children are supported to speak up and have their voices heard in matters that affect them, such as how parenting orders will be determined.’

‘The mental health of children undergoing separation and family law proceedings requires very close attention. They need to be adequately supported at all times throughout the process,’ Mr Pettit added.

During 2017, the Family Court of WA received 5341 divorce applications and 1831 applications for parenting-only final orders. Excluding matters that proceeded to trial, the average length of time for final decisions on parenting orders in 2017 was 45 weeks.

The Family Court of WA and the Australian Law Reform Commission so that the findings can be incorporated into the national review of the family law system.

‘I encourage any young people who have experience of the Family Court and are comfortable in sharing their views in confidence to contact my office,’ Mr Pettit said.

Young people aged 12 to 18 can share their views confidentially in a range of ways, by writing to the Commissioner, participating in an interview or completing a survey. To participate, young people can contact the Commissioner on 1800 072 444 or email info@ccyp.wa.gov.au