South Australian Family Law Pathways Network
Newsletter: May 2014
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Hi everyone and welcome to the new and improved edition of the South Australian Family Law Pathways Network (SAFLPN) Newsletter. We hope you enjoy this new format. There are a number of featured articles which we trust will be of interest to you.

The SAFLPN has been extremely busy since the last Newsletter, including distributing a new brochure for the SAFLPN Kiosk. The Kiosk is the information and referral service which is held at the Family Law Courts on duty days (Monday - Wednesday, 9:30am - 1pm). An article about the role and functions provided by the Kisok was published in the March edition of the Law Bulletin, issued by the SA Law Society. Pathways has received some extremely positive feedback from many legal practitioners as well as the Court about the usefulness of the Kiosk since the article was published.

Pathways has also been heavily involved in the preparations for the annual Pathways Forum. On 9 May 2014, the SAFLPN held an all day Forum "The Child's Voice" at the Australian Institute of Social Relations. The Forum included many key speakers who are experts in dealing with children in the family law system. The Forum was opened by Dr Susan Cochrane, Adviser to the Attorney General. The Forum was a great success thanks to all involved. An article detailing the Forum is featured in this edition.

Pathways has also been making many plans and has some fantastic new initiatives in the pipeline for the remainder of 2014, including the development of a South Australian Pathways website, which plans to have a number of links and information relating to family law services and resources available via the various organisations in South Australia. Pathways hopes to have the final website up and running as soon as possible, so keep an eye out!

Pathways also continues to update and provide the Directory for Family Law Services in South Australia to Pathways Members at the commencement of each school term. If you are an agency which will be offering courses or events in the latter part of the year, please forward details of those services to the SA Pathways Project Officer, Rene Earles at as soon as possible, so the Directory can be accurately updated for the Term 3.

If you would like to include anything else in the Pathways Newsletter or showcase a particular service, please contact the SAFLPN Project Officer on 8419 2000 or via email

Happy reading.

In this issue:

South Australian Family Law Pathways Network presents: "The Child's Voice"

On 9 May 2014, the SAFLPN hosted an all day Forum for approximately 100 delegates at the Australian Institute of Social Relations. The site is also the venue for the Hindmarsh Children's Contact Service (run via Relationships Australia (SA)).

The Forum was formally opened by Dr Susan Cochrane, Adviser to the Attorney General. In the first session, the delegates heard presentations from Justice David Berman of the Family Court about his experiences as a relatively new judicial officer in dealing with children's matters. Barrister Graeme Hemsley gave a presentation about the role of the Independent Children's Lawyer. Dr Michelle Fernando, Senior Lecturer from Uni SA was unable to attend to give her presentation on possible inclusion of children in the judicial system, however, a copy of Dr Fernandos' presentation has been kindly made available: CLICK HERE to read more.

After morning tea, the delegates heard from Dr Jamie Lee, psychologist Relationships Australia (SA); Clare Swetenham, Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner at Centacare; Stewart Bruinsma, Social Worker and Private Family Report Writer; and Helen Francis of the Australian Centre of Child Protection. Each delegate provided their view about the role of children in the 'adult based' family law system.

During the lunch break, delegates were provided an opportunity to take a guided tour of the Hindmarsh Children's Contact Service.

Following the lunch break, a panel of experts addressed the theme of "the Child's Voice" using a case study, which was well received. The audience listened to the guest speakers working on a hypothetical case scenario (see below). The Case Study was facilitated by Ric Trevaksis, Regional Co-ordinator of Child Dispute Services at the Family Law Courts. Members of the panel included:
  • Judge Alexandra Harland from the Federal Circuit Court (Darwin)
  • Jacqui Beall, Family Consultant, Family Law Courts
  • Dr Jamie Lee, Pyschologist, Relationships Australia (SA)
  • Rob Winter, Independent Children's Lawyer, Legal Services Commission
  • Theresa Clark, FDR Practitioner, Relationships Australia (SA)
  • Ryan Thomas, Solictor, Andersons Lawyers
  • Alicia Furman, Solictor ( David Burrell & Co) & Deputy Chair of the Family Law Committee
  • Robin Howard, Anglicare, Kids are First program and
  • Kathy Jones, Child Specialist, Relationships Australia (SA)
The panel addressed a series of questions relating to a scenario involving 'Bonnie and Barry', who have recently separated and have 2 children. The scenario followed Bonnie and Barry through the various steps in the family law system, from the onset of separation through to trial.

The Forum was sold out and again proved to be very successful. Pathways would like to extend a big thank you to all that contributed to the Forum, especially members of administration staff at Relationships Australia (SA) who assisted in the running of the Forum on the day. Also, a huge thank you to the presenters who each voluntarily gave up their time to participate. And finally, thank you to the delegates who attended and for providing such helpful feedback about improving the Forum in the future. We look forward to seeing you all again next year!

Australian Institute of Family Studies: Independent Children's Lawyers

Does having an ICL involved in family law proceedings improve outcomes for the child?

The Attorney-General's Department commissioned the Australian Institute of Family Studies to conduct research into the role and efficacy of Independent Children's Lawyers in the family law system. The final report was released in May 2013 and details findings of the research carried out between June 2012 and April 2013 which comprised several different studies designed to examine the core research question:

To what extent does having an ICL involved in family law proceedings improve the outcomes for the child?

The studies involved quantitative and qualitative approaches to collecting data from professional stakeholders including judicial officers, ICL practitioners, non-ICL lawyers, and non legal family law system professionals (including family consultants), with a total of 528 professionals contributing to the research. Importantly, the perspectives of parents and children involved in a matter with an ICL have contributed to the findings.

The findings indicate that considerable value is placed on the role, especially by judges. There are three overlapping aspects to the ICL role, relating to participation, litigation management and evidence gathering. The ICLs are seen to bring a child focus to proceedings that would otherwise be conducted bilaterally and adversarially. The capacity of many ICLs is recognised to be excellent. It is also clear from the range of responses that there are concerns about the capacity and commitment of some practitioners.

Although it is apparent that there are various individual and systemic issues that have an impact on effective ICL practice, questions as to the level of independence, impartiality and professional rigour were raised in responses to the survey and interviews. Respondents also considered that mechanisms for selection, training, monitoring performance and ensuring accountability needed to be strengthened.

For a full copy of the report, CLICK HERE

New Brochure: Child Abduction

The Attorney General’s Department has recently published a new brochure on international child abduction.

For further information, CLICK HERE.

YouTube channels to help navigate divorce

The Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia now have official YouTube channels to provide informational videos aimed at helping unrepresented litigants with court procedures.

The courts receive about 45,000 divorce applications a year. Of those 45,000 applications, almost 70% have no legal representation. Serving documents has been identified a one aspect of the divorce process which causes confusion to some clients and is the subject of the first video: 'How to apply for a divorce: serving divorce papers'.
This video is the first in a series of videos planned to provide court users with simple information in a digital format which differs from the usual printed fact sheet.

Check them out:

The Family Law DOORS Launch in Adelaide

Prof. Jennifer McIntosh from Family Transitions and Dr. Claire Ralfs from The Australian Institute of Social Relations present the latest practice, research and training news on the Family Law DOORS, with special guest:
  • The Honourable Chief Justice, Diana Bryant AO QC
The event will cover:
  • New insights into risk presentations across the family law system
  • New online training is introduced, to help all family law professionals better detect, evaluate and respond to patterns of risk in clients of the family law system: adults, children and infants.
When: Tuesday, 8 July 2014
Time: 5:30pm – 7:30pm
Location: Hilton Hotel, Adelaide
Cost: Free

For more information and to register, CLICK HERE.

Webinar Invitation: Guiding & Controlling Hearings for Unrepresented Litigants

Date and Time: 22 May 2014, 2pm - 3pm AEST

Presenters: The Honourable Justice Mark Le Poer Trench, Family Court of Australia, and David Edney, Family Law Specialist, CE Family Lawyers

The Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court are inquiring into establishing procedures and aids to assist unrepresented litigants. This project arises from the concern that there are an increasing percentage of cases being conducted in each court by parties who cannot afford or chose not to engage lawyers to conduct the litigation on their behalf. The courts have created a working party with diverse representation to assist in the project.

This webinar will discuss matters being considered by the working party, and outline procedures that are currently being utilised by judges in both courts to create a more structured and judicially guided preparation of a case for hearing.

The webinar will also discuss the role and responsibility of Independent Children’s Lawyers with respect to unrepresented litigants.

About the presenters

The Honourable Justice Mark Le Poer Trench was appointed to the Family Court of Australia on 10th October 2001 and currently sits at the Sydney Registry. His Honour is one of the chairs of a Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court working party in relation to self-represented litigants. Since his appointment His Honour has taken a particular interest in the outcomes for children of final parenting orders where there are high levels of acrimony within the family. His Honour was the chair of the working party which in 2003 presented to the Chief Justice a proposal which developed to become the Children’s Cases Program. That program was then used as the model for the amendments to the Family Law Act which became effective in July 2006.

David Edney is an Accredited Family Law Specialist and Partner of CE Family Lawyers, which is a Specialist Family Law Firm. David works as a child representative and in the past has been actively involved in the Law Institute as Chairperson of the Children and Youth Issues subcommittee of the Law Institute, and Chairperson of the Family Law advisory committee with respect to Specialisation. David also served on the Family Law Section Executive for many years.


For more information and to register, CLICK HERE

This webinar is a collaboration between Child Family Community Australia and the Family Law Pathways Network.


Service Directory

CLICK HERE for the latest version of the Service Directory.
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