Enhancing access to family dispute resolution for families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

Social isolation Multiculturalism Social issues Families Human rights Australia

All services offered by the Family Support Program (FSP)—managed by the Australian Government Department of Families and Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA)—are required to be accessible, equitable and responsive. This includes engaging groups that may have barriers to access, such as families from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds. Social equity and substantive justice are promoted by enabling all Australians, including those from CALD backgrounds, to benefit from and fully participate in universal beneficial services.

This paper explores the extent to which federally funded family dispute resolution (FDR) services are accessible to families from CALD backgrounds. The paper draws extensively on literature identified for, and the findings of a qualitative research project, conducted by the author in a research partnership with CatholicCare Sydney and Anglicare.

The project sought to develop a culturally responsive model of family dispute resolution. An important part of the project was to identify strategies that would facilitate greater access to, and participation in, family dispute resolution by individuals and families from culturally diverse backgrounds.

The paper concludes that CALD families are not proportionally represented as FDR clients, and canvasses some reasons why they may not readily be using these services. Principles and practices are considered that may encourage access to FDR by CALD families and enhance their effective participation in its processes.

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