Evidence of the prevalence of a history of past and/or current family violence among separated parents, and the presence of ongoing safety concerns for themselves and their children as a result of ongoing contact with the other parent, has created an impetus for the family law system to find more effective ways of dealing with families affected by family violence.
In July 2009, the Federal Government announced funding for a pilot program to provide assistance, including family dispute resolution (FDR), to such families. Subsequently, Women’s Legal Service Brisbane (and other consultants) were funded by the Attorney- General’s Department (AGD) to develop a model for coordinated family dispute resolution (CFDR). CFDR is a service for separated families who need assistance to resolve parenting disputes where there has been a history of past and/or current family violence. It is being implemented in five sites/lead agencies across Australia: Perth (Legal Aid Western Australia), Brisbane (Telephone Dispute Resolution Service [TDRS], run by Relationships Australia Queensland), Newcastle (Interrelate), Western Sydney (Unifam) and Hobart (Relationships Australia Tasmania). TDRS made adaptions to the model to accommodate its telephone-based service.
The pilot commenced operation at most sites in the final quarter of 2010. Implementation in one location (Brisbane) was delayed until mid-2011 to allow time to finalise the composition of the partnership.
This report presents the findings of an evaluation of this process.