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PQ 4. Family Justice System—Reports

4. Family Justice System—Reports

[Sitting date: 29 July 2014. Volume:700;Page:3. Text is subject to correction.]

4. JOANNE HAYES (National) to the Minister of Justice : What recent reports has she received on the Family Dispute Resolution services in the reformed Family Justice system?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Minister of Justice): Four months after the Government’s Family Court reforms came into effect, it is clear they are having a very positive effect. The new family dispute resolution service has completed 562 assessments for mediation, and a further 530 are in progress. Of the 122 mediations completed, 71 percent have resolved all matters in dispute between the parties without going to court. This means that more parents are entering into parenting plans by agreement, fewer parents are going to court to resolve disputes over their children, and fewer children are being stressed by warring parents.

Joanne Hayes : What other statistics has she recently received on the new Family Court reforms?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS : In the past 4 months 1,609 parents and family carers have undertaken the Government’s Parenting through Separation course, and 1,175 parties to parenting disputes have received or are receiving Government-funded legal assistance to prepare for family dispute resolution or standard court proceedings. Forty thousand parenting plans and booklets have been provided to agencies to assist family carers reach agreement on caring for their children, with a further 1,400 downloaded from the family justice website. The website has had around 1.7 million page views since its launch in March. Might I recommend it to the people opposite, who clearly need it.

Joanne Hayes : What impact are the family justice reforms having on the Family Court?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS : Before these reforms were introduced, the Family Court was experiencing huge delays with processing cases. The court was being clogged up with disputes over where children should spend Christmas or what after-school activities they might engage in. Most of these can now be dealt with in the family dispute resolution mediations instead of in court. Since the reforms have been introduced, the average number of guardianship applications—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! The level of barrage from my left is now at an unacceptable level. I call the Hon Judith Collins to complete the answer, please.

Hon JUDITH COLLINS : Since the reforms have been introduced, the average number of guardianship applications has dropped from 481 per week to 231 per week. This means the court can focus on more serious matters. The overall reduction in new cases has meant that the court is able to dispose of cases more quickly. The Auckland court, in particular, now has 1,000 fewer applications on hand than it did at 31 March 2014.

Hon David Parker : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I could see you becoming concerned at the level of interjection from the Opposition. The length of the answer invites disorder in the House, and it was longer than the Standing Orders would allow.

Mr SPEAKER : I will be the judge of the length of an answer, but on that occasion the answer was certainly getting towards the lengthy stage. It was not helped by the persistent level of interjection coming from two members to my left particularly

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