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Child protection and family law: The Australian experience

Young, L. (2012) Child protection and family law: The Australian experience. In: Sheehan, R., Rhoades, H. and Stanley, N., (eds.) Vulnerable Children and The Law: International Evidence for Improving Child Welfare, Child Protection and Children's Rights. Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London, pp. 269-282.

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The difficulties of protecting children from violence is a longstanding theme in Australian family law. Modern policy debates have seen increasing concern about child protection juxtaposed with the fear of strategically false allegations of child abuse and an overwhelming desire to try to maintain and foster father/child bonds. While the competing interests may be predictable, Australian family law has undergone very radical reforms in recent years, which have failed to appreciate the potential dangers children face ¡f those interests are not balanced in favour of child protection.

This chapter traces the background to the 2006 family law reforms in Australia, outlines those reforms in so far as they relate to child protection, and briefly identifies the critique that attended their introduction. It then considers the impact of those reforms on the protection of children from family violence, using a case example to support its argument that legislative reform, including increasing emphasis on shared parenting, has fostered a decision-making approach that minimises issues of child protection in favour of parental contact. Recent research and evaluations of the 2006 reforms are then considered; so too is whether or not current proposals for further legislative reform are likely to improve the protection of children in separated families.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Law
Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Copyright: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
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