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Event: Reforming family law Australian-style

Date:13 AUG 2018
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The Network on Family, Regulation and Society’s first annual public lecture by Professor Helen Rhoades, Commissioner, Australian Law Reform Commission, takes place on the evening of Friday 5 October 2018 at the University of Exeter on the subject of ‘Reforming family law Australian-style’. The Australian Law Reform Commission is conducting the first independent comprehensive review of Australia’s family law system since the commencement of the Family Law Act in 1976. This will be the first UK discussion of its report which is to be published on 2 October 2018 – at a time when family law reform is a prime focus for concern in England and Wales. The lecture will be followed by a discussion of family law reform issues being addressed in both Australia and England and Wales led by an expert panel:
  • Professor Gillian Douglas – Dean of Law, Kings’ College London and editor of Child and Family Law Quarterly;
  • Professor Nick Hopkins, Law Commissioner (England and Wales); 
  • Sir James Munby – Immediate Past President, Family Division; and chaired by 
  • Professor Anne Barlow – University of Exeter. 
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The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has been tasked with conducting the first independent comprehensive review of Australia’s family law system since the commencement of the Family Law Act in 1976. Since that time, Australian social and political life has seen significant change, including a diversification of family structures, accession to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and growing policy recognition of the prevalence of family violence among the population of separating parents. However, recent reports have suggested the family law system has not kept pace with these shifts, and that the costs and adversarial nature of court proceedings pose access to justice barriers for many families and individuals, particularly those with safety and support needs following separation – issues that are increasingly familiar in other family law jurisdictions. This paper reports on the progress and preliminary proposals for reform of the ALRC’s inquiry. 

Professor Helen Rhoades was appointed as ALRC Commissioner from 1 October 2017 to lead the Review into the Family Law System. She was Acting President of the Australian Law Reform Commission between 31 October 2017 and 9 January 2018. Professor Rhoades is on leave from her position as Professor of Law at Melbourne University, where she has been based since 1994. She is a co-convenor of the Family and Children’s Law Research Group and a Member of the Research Committee at Melbourne Law School. Between 2010 and 2016, she was Chair of the Family Law Council and between 2010 and 2013, a Member of the National Advisory Board, Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia. Since 2011, she has been on the Editorial Board of the Australian Journal of Family Law. Professor Rhoades has also written extensively on the family law system.

To book a place at the lecture apply by 21 September 2018 to: ssis-researcheventbookings@exeter.ac.uk. Travel and accommodation information can be provided on request.