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Thursday, 21 November 1974
Page: 2678

Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) - I have not lived with this measure in the way that everybody else who has spoken tonight has lived with it in the past few months. I have not been able to give to it the time that other speakers have been able to give to it. I sense that this debate is being carried on between people who have lived with the proposal for a long time. I do not think anyone has explained what is sought to be achieved by this provision. I acknowledge what the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) said at the outset of this discussion. What purpose is to be served if a notice is to be filed when a party believes that a marriage has broken down or if a notice is to be given that the counselling facilities are to be availed of? The consequent step as it seems to me is that the Director of Counselling and Welfare, who in the eyes of the people concerned would be an officer of the Marriage Guidance Bureau or the Department, may arrange for an interview to take place. To me, the whole concept seems ill-defined and certainly undeveloped. If a person wants to use the facilities of the Family Court or of the Marriage Guidance Bureau he can do so under a subsequent proposed new clause which suggests that the Director of Counselling and Welfare is to advise where facilities may be obtained.

I think this is one of the basic problems under the existing legislation. I guess it will be a problem under this legislation. How do we make people aware of the availability of these facilities? How can we assure people that they will be received sympathetically and that they can get help if they are prepared to trust in the advice which can be given? I wonder whether the formality of filing a notice and then depending on someone to arrange an interview will be helpful. This concept of filing a notice seems to me to be one of the legalisms which this legislation is designed to avoid. Why is this proposed clause being inserted? I would be grateful if a member of the Standing Committee would explain why.

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