The current Family Court is overly expensive, slow, formalistic, intimidating, inaccessible, does not give an effective voice to children (due to failures in the role of the ICL) and does not respond adequately to claims of family violence or child abuse. There is widespread dissatisfaction with its results. Lives are being endangered by a flawed adversarial legal system which serves mainly to entrench conflict and impoverish the parties.The Family Relationship Centres do not adequately address the problem as they are unsuitable for complex cases or where family violence is involved as these cases still end up being referred to the Family Court.
The adversarial court system needs to be replaced with a less formal, inquisitorial tribunal designed to be easily navigated by individuals who are self-represented. Tribunal members should include individuals with qualifications and training in domestic violence, child psychology and mediation as well as law. The tribunal should also be endowed with the power to make family violence and child care and protection orders as required. This would enable families, including those with complex needs, to deal with only one tribunal, rather than having to navigate several courts in different jurisdictions.