Opening the DOORS to Family Law

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Chair of the Family Law Council of Australia, Mr Rick O’Brien recently announced a national audit of family violence training to identify best practice.

The Law Council’s Family Law Section has undertaken a range of training and practice development initiatives over the 28 years since its establishment.  From August 2013, the Family Law Section will offer seminars to inform and train Family Law practitioners in the Detection of Overall Risk Screen (DOORS) framework; a programme designed to assist family lawyers and other professionals in the field to identify safety risks for clients, especially for families exposed to family violence and child abuse.

Dr Jennifer McIntosh and Dr Claire Ralfs are responsible for the development of the DOORS program; a standardised “front line” screening tool developed to assist in the detection of safety and wellbeing risks for people across the family law spectrum.

Further amendments to the Family Law Act are anticipated to better address inconsistencies between family violence orders and orders in the Family Law Courts.

As a group, family lawyers generally engage in furthering their legal education and training with enthusiasm and an appreciation of the dynamic challenges of practising in a field of law that is subject to frequent reform and scrutiny. Increasing awareness of the more subtle indicators of violence and further training in undertaking these important conversations with our clients is always welcome.

These initiatives follow up the recommendations from the Australian Law Reform Commission and the NSW Law Reform Commission Report into family violence.  Improved information sharing between agencies and organisations in family law, family violence and child protection systems, has also been recommended.

Visit Family Law DOORS for more information about the DOORS programme.

Di Simpson is a Director at Dobinson Davey Clifford Simpson Family Law Specialists, 18 Kendall Lane, New Acton, Canberra ACT 2601 and can be contacted on (02) 6212 7600.