Yesterday (October 6, 2020) the Morrison government delivered its 2020-21 budget, promising significant funding towards family law and family relationship services. We’ve summarised the main takeaways for you and provided our expert comment on these important issues.

  1. $2.5m over two years from 2020-21 for federal family law courts to maintain specialised court lists for urgent matters arising as a result of COVID-19.

Our comment: This is a welcome pledge, as COVID-19 and its consequential border closures and travel restrictions have led to a spike in parenting disputes which in turn has added extra pressure to an already congested court system.  

  • $132.1m over 4 years from 2020-21 to expedite the handling of family law matters and other matters in the Federal Circuit Court.

Our comment: It is hoped that this measure will feed more resources into alternative dispute resolution and help to bring down the wait-time for a contested trial, which can be anywhere from 18 – 24 months.   

  • $4.8m has been provided for the Family Violence and Cross Examination of Parties Scheme, which helps protect victims of family violence in family law proceedings and $1.8m towards implementation of the National Domestic Violence Order Scheme which allows for nationwide registration and enforcement of state-made domestic violence orders.

Our comment: The National Domestic Violence Order Scheme commenced nationally in 2017 and its aim is to increase protection for victims of domestic and family violence across the country. The scheme has been effective in increasing perpetrator accountability regardless of where the offence takes place and where the order was made. Any additional funding to enhance the effectiveness of the scheme is welcomed

  • $7.7m over 4 years from 2020-21 for works to improve the safety and security of the Rockhampton and Launceston Federal Circuit Court buildings.

Our comment: This comes two months after the conviction and sentence of a man for the 1980 – 1985 for three murders and a string of bombings, including a family court judge and his wife. No person should ever be made to feel unsafe or threatened because of their work, much less those who dedicate their career to a public service such as a judicial officer. Court registries located in our capital cities have extensive security systems in place and it is high time that our regional registries are afforded the same treatment.     

Written by MBA Lawyers Senior Associate Joelene Seaton. For Family Law advice please contact Joelene at Joelene.seaton@mba-lawyers.com.au