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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 11 Hansard (14 December) . . Page.. 3158 ..


The main change in the Commonwealth law is that the Magistrates Court will be given the power to make, revive, vary, or suspend Family Law contact orders when making or varying a protection or interim order.

Parties will be required to inform the Family Court of relevant protection orders in proceedings dealing with access. In this way, the Family Court can take such orders into account and ensure that they are consistent, where possible. In the event that there is inconsistency, persons may apply to either the Family Court or the Magistrates Court for a declaration of the extent to which a contact order is inconsistent with a family violence order. There is also provision for notification between the courts of relevant orders.

The changes to the Domestic Violence Act 1986 complement the Family Law Reforms. There is provision for parties to inform the Magistrates Court of any relevant family contact order in domestic violence proceedings. In addition, when making or varying protection or interim orders, the Magistrates Court is required to consider access and any relevant family contact order. Because the Magistrates Court will have the necessary information about contact orders, together with the power to alter them, the Court will be able to tailor orders in a way that best suits the practical needs of individual cases. The Bill also provides for exemption from the secrecy provisions, for persons who inform the Family Court of protection orders.

As a matter of practice, children are sometimes included as "protected persons" on protection orders or interim orders. Clearly the courts will be considering closely the question of the interrelationship between access arrangements and the need for protection for all concerned. The new provisions are aimed to assist the court in its deliberations.

Both the Bill itself and the Explanatory Memorandum refer to and explain the relevant provisions of the Family Law Reform Bill 1994. This is a complex area of the law, so it is important that parties and legal practitioners are given

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