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Safe families, not cost, should drive Family Court reforms

Safe families, not cost, should drive Family Court reforms, the Green Party says.

Advice to the Government, in a regulatory impact statement on the Family Court Review, announced last week, focuses on an “urgent” need to reduce costs in the system.

“The priority should not be saving a few dollars it should be about ensuring safe, happy homes for children,” said Green Party courts spokesperson Dave Clendon.

The regulatory impact statement on the Justice Ministry website says: “Given the overall fiscal situation, urgent steps must be taken to lower the cost of the current justice system while, at the same time, delivering more effective and efficient court services. This means the options we have considered must be able to be implemented quickly.”

The same statement comments on how there had been “limited opportunity” to discuss proposals with stakeholders.

“Time should be taken to ensure the best outcomes not to start banking the savings,” said Mr Clendon.

“It’s good if quality services can be offered at lower costs but families need to be the focus.

“The push for savings could also impact on the ability of families to use the system. Women already struggling with leaving their violent partner should not have to pay.

“We also have concerns that the new mandatory family dispute resolution service will see victims of violence forced into close contact with their abusers. It’s easy to say that those people will be exempt but many women do not speak out.

“It would be good for officials to talk to Women’s Refuge and other stakeholders before changes are made,” said Mr Clendon.

ends

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