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Government increases choice in dispute resolution and boosts funding to community organisations.



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28 February 2001

GOVERNMENT INCREASES CHOICE IN DISPUTE RESOLUTION and BOOSTS FUNDING TO COMMUNITY ORGANISATIONS

Once again, Labor has been making claims about the funding of the Family Court which have no basis in fact.

Yesterday Labor’s shadow spokesman claimed during Question Time that Family Court counsellors no longer visit regional centres because of "budget cuts".

This is wrong.

Funding for family law matters has not been cut.

The Family Court has agreed to transfer money to the Federal Magistrates Service to reflect the fact that federal magistrates have taken over much of the less complex work of the Court. In addition, the Family Court’s budget has been reduced to reflect savings from the abolition of wholesale sales tax.

The Family Court is a self-administering body and it alone determines the allocation of its budget funding.

The Court has made some changes to service delivery and now gives priority to court-ordered counselling over voluntary counselling. The Court has advised that it will maintain services wherever possible in rural and regional areas and that it will not reduce services without first consulting with the local community.

The Commonwealth spends about $30m annually on family counselling, mediation and contact services. In addition, we have allocated a further $15.7 million over three years for the expansion of primary or non-litigious family law dispute resolution services. Of this, $1.75 million will go to community

GOVERNMENT INCREASES CHOICE IN DISPUTE RESOLUTION and BOOSTS FUNDING TO COMMUNITY ORGANISATIONS

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organisations in metropolitan areas where voluntary counselling will not be available through the Family Court to ensure that they are appropriately equipped to deal with the work formerly undertaken by the Court.

A further $1.2 million has been allocated over three years from the 1999-00 Budget to the Federal Magistrates Service to fund dispute resolution services from community-based organisations. The Service will call for tenders for community based services as well as using available Family Court counselling and mediation services, thus providing as wide a choice as possible for clients.

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GOVERNMENT INCREASES CHOICE IN DISPUTE RESOLUTION and BOOSTS FUNDING TO COMMUNITY ORGANISATIONS

http://law.gov.au/aghome/agnews/2001newsag/927_01.htm (2 of 2) [01/03/2001 6:54:11]