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Family Law Council to examine family surrogacy and parentage



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THE HON NICOLA ROXON MP Attorney-General Minister for Emergency Management

MEDIA RELEASE

22 June 2012

FAMILY LAW COUNCIL TO EXAMINE FAMILY SURROGACY AND PARENTAGE

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon today charged the Family Law Council with examining how issues of surrogacy and family formation are dealt with by the Family Law Act 1975.

“Surrogacy within Family Law is a complex and emerging issue that needs careful consideration as an increasing number of Australian families are being formed using artificial reproductive technology.

“Our laws need to be responsive to new family situations as well as provide adequate protections for children involved.

“The Family Law Council is ideally placed to examine the legal issues around surrogacy, parentage and family formation, while ensuring the interests of the child remain paramount.”

Under the new terms of reference issued by the Attorney-General today, the Council has until December 2013 to report back on the legal issues surrounding children born into families formed this way.

Ms Roxon also announced four new appointees to the Council:

 Justice Robert Benjamin from the Family Court of Australia, Tasmania;  Ms Kylie Beckhouse, Executive Director, Family Law, Legal Aid New South Wales;  Ms Jennie Hannan, Family Relationship Services Australia Board Chair

and Chief Executive Officer of Anglicare Western Australia; and  Ms Colleen Wall, Executive Director of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women‟s Legal and Advocacy Service, Queensland.

“I congratulate the new appointees and look forward to the valued contribution they will make,” Ms Roxon said.

“I would also like to thank the three outgoing members of the Council - Justice Garry Watts, Ms Nicola Davies and Mr Clive Price - who served for many years and provided excellent advice to the Government.

“The Australian community benefits from the important advice provided by the Council that over many years has enabled the Government to enhance and improve the family law system.”

The terms of reference and biographies of appointees are attached.

For all media enquiries, please contact the Attorney-General’s Office on 0409 945 476

Family Law Council - Biographies of new appointees

Justice Robert Benjamin

Justice Robert Benjamin was sworn in as Judge of the Family Court of Australia in August 2005 and brings a high level of judicial expertise. Before that time His Honour practiced at a private profession for 30 years almost exclusively in family law. His Honour has a strong background in mediation having studied mediation at Bond University, Harvard University and having attained a Masters Degree (with a major in Dispute Resolution) at the University of Technology Sydney. He was an Accredited Specialist in Family Law and has contributed articles and presentations in family law over many years.

Ms Kylie Beckhouse

Ms Kylie Beckhouse is an Accredited Family Law Specialist and is the Executive Director, Family Law, Legal Aid New South Wales. Ms Beckhouse was appointed to head the family law practice in Legal Aid New South Wales in May 2009. In this role she has established an external pilot of alternative dispute resolution in care and protection, established a leading role for Legal Aid New South Wales in the Family Relationships Centre legal services pilot being run in New South Wales, overseen the expansion of community legal education, family law outreach and duty court services and improved responses to family violence including the formation of the Family Violence Specialist Network.

Ms Jennie Hannan

Ms Jennie Hannan is the Chair of the Family Relationships Services Australia board. Ms Hannan is also the Executive General Manager - Services for Anglicare Western Australia, overseeing all of their programs including their successful contact orders program, „Mums and Dads Forever‟. Ms Hannan has worked as a therapist (child and family) and then as a manager in services funded under the Family Relationship Services Program for the past 30 years across a number of States and Territories and for agencies including

Relationships Australia (South Australia and Western Australia), Centacare (South Australia), and Anglicare (South Australia and Western Australia).

Ms Colleen Wall

Ms Colleen Wall is the Executive Officer of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Women‟s Legal and Advocacy Service (ATSIWLAS) in Brisbane and Chair of the Queensland South Native Title Service. Ms Wall is also on the Queensland Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Panel set up by the former Queensland Minister for Community Services and Housing and Minister for Women. Ms Wall is a member of the Domestic and Family Violence Strategy Implementation Advisory Group which advises the Minister for Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services on the implementation of Queensland Government‟s strategy to reduce domestic and family violence “For Our Sons and Daughters”.

Family Law Council Terms of Reference

June 2012

Surrogacy and Family Formation

I request that the Family Law Council consider and advise me by December 2013 on the following issues in relation to who is considered to be a parent of a child under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth):

i. Whether the provisions in Part VII of the Family Law Act that deal with the parentage of children lead to outcomes that are appropriate, non-discriminatory and consistent for children.

ii. Whether there are any amendments that could be made to the Family Law Act that will clarify the operation, interaction and effect of the relevant provisions.

iii. Whether there are any amendments that should be made to make the Family Law Act more consistent with State and Territory legislation that provides for the legal parentage of children.

iv. Are there any amendments that would assist the family courts to determine the parentage of children born as a result of assisted reproductive technology, including surrogacy, where the State and Territory Acts do not apply?

The Family Law Council should have regard to the legal parentage of children as determined by State and Territory laws.