Children report feeling increasingly left out of family law proceedings in Australia.
As the SA Commissioner for Children and Young People, Ms Helen Connolly, says:
The system has been slow to change to reflect the importance of including the voices of children and young people in any decisions that are made about them.
They’re not passive bystanders – it’s about them and their lives and therefore they need to have active involvement in it.
The UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, which was ratified in Australia in 1990, gives several rights to children involved in family law proceedings, including the right to participate and make their views heard in processes that affect their lives.
Unfortunately, this right to participate is not actively promoted in our legal system.
Some countries around the world are trialling new ways of giving children a stronger voice in family law proceedings, including having the children meet and speak with the judges presiding over their cases.
Australia needs to do more to promote the active participation of children in family law, which is why Ms Connolly has highlighted the issue in her recent submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission.
This is something that everybody – parents, lawyers, judges, child welfare workers – should get behind. As Ms Connolly says,
This is a serious concern as a court’s primary consideration is the best interests of the child.
To find out more about this issue, have a look at this InDaily article.
If you need any advice about children’s law including custody, contact, or the rights of children, call Martin Bullock Lawyers on 02 9687 9322.