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Australian Law Reform Commission Review of the Family Law System

Media Release

The Australian Law Reform Commission's (ALRC) final report into the Family Law System has been publicly released after being tabled in Federal Parliament today.

This is the first time the family law system has been comprehensively reviewed since the commencement of the Family Law Act in 1976.

The ALRC was asked to undertake a broad and far reaching review of the family law system, focusing on key areas of importance to Australian families. These included ensuring the family law system prioritised the best interests of children, best addressed family violence and child abuse, and supported families, including those with complex needs to resolve their family law disputes quickly and safely while minimising the financial burden.

The Attorney-General noted today that the Government had already pursued in Parliament a clear and cautious plan to merge the family court system to end the delays and costs to Australian families that have been widely agreed are caused by a split federal court system that has multiple family law courts in the one federal jurisdiction.

"The Government is completely committed to ending unnecessary costs and delay for Australian families and was disappointed that Labor rejected sensible reform to the family court system to create a single integrated court with a single set of rules and procedures with increased funding for the court after the proposed merger," the Attorney-General said.

"The Government has demonstrated a clear plan and is committed to fixing the well-known inefficiencies that cost Australian families arising from the split family law courts system. If re-elected, the Government will remain fully committed to a clear path forward of merging the Federal Circuit Court with the Family Court into a single, new and more efficient court and would also be fully committed to considering and developing individual responses to the complex issues raised in each of the 60 recommendations made in the final ALRC report.

"I have asked my department to commence its consideration of the ALRC's report and to develop comprehensive advice about each of the reforms suggested by the ALRC to ensure that the family law system supports modern Australian families to resolve their disputes safely and as efficiently and cheaply as possible.

"Now that the ALRC's recommendations are publicly available the Government envisages a further period of engagement with key stakeholders would also be necessary in developing options for reform and responding to the report, to ensure the family law system is reformed in a manner that delivers just, effective and safe outcomes for Australian families.

"I thank the ALRC, the Advisory Committee and the Commissioners for their dedication and hard work. I would especially like to thank Professor Helen Rhoades and the Honourable Justice Sarah Derrington who have ably led this review."

The final report, as well as further information about the review, is available on the ALRC's website.