National Families Week emphasises the need to focus on children in separations

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National Families Week emphasises the need to focus on children in separations

May 2024

Celebrating Family Diversity and Connections

National Families begins on May 13, serving as a reminder of the importance of family bonds and connections.

This year’s theme highlights and celebrates diversity and connections within families. Today, families come in all shapes and sizes, way beyond the old-fashioned nuclear family. There is a whole spectrum of compositions and backgrounds. There are nuclear families with mum, dad, and the kids, but then there’s also extended families with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins all in the mix. Plus, there are single-parent families, stepfamilies, LGBTIQA+ families and blended families, each with their own unique dynamics.

In Australia, family structures continue to evolve, with separation and co-parenting becoming common. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, from 2017 to 2021, approximately 27% of divorces involved couples with children under 18 years old. This means that around 217,000 children experienced their parents’ divorce during this period. Supporting separating and separated families through their planning for future parenting arrangements is key to services offered at Relationships Australia Tasmania.

On May 6, amendments to the Family Law Act 1975 introduced by the Attorney-General’s Office ensure a family-centred approach whilst prioritising the best interests of the child. Two significant changes as part of the amendments are: first, what a court must consider when determining what is in the child’s best interests; second, how separated parents are to make decisions about long-term issues for their children.

At Relationships Australia Tasmania, we support families at this critical stage in their journeys – at the point of separation.
Separating is an extremely difficult and personal decision, and can come with feelings of grief and loss, fear, guilt, loss of connection, loneliness, and financial and social strain for parents and children alike.

Our Family Dispute Resolution Service assists many separating parents to make their own arrangements for parenting after their relationship ends. However, in some instances where parents cannot agree about these arrangements or would like certainty about their future parenting arrrangements, parents (or certain caregivers) can apply to the family court for parenting orders. The court must always make orders that are in the best interests of the child.

So, this National Families Week, we’d like to acknowledge the importance of supporting separating families in making the right choices for their families with a focus on their children’s best interests, and in doing so, contributing to the diverse family structures we see in Australia today.

For more information on the amendments visit: https://www.ag.gov.au/families-and-marriage/publications/family-law-amendment-act-2023-factsheet-parents

Michelle Ewington (OAM) is the Director, Family Law Services at Relationships Australia Tasmania

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Media Contact: A.Mark Thomas, M&M Communications, 0422 006 732

About Relationships Australia Tasmania

At Relationships Australia Tasmania we provide families, couples, individuals, older people, children and communities with tools and strategies, so that they have healthy, positive lives. We help more than 8000 Tasmanians every year to transform and change their lives through counselling, mediation, dispute resolution, support and training.

Our focus is on:

  • healthy relationships, conflict resolution, parenting, cultural issues and mental health
  • We offer people the services and support they need, when they need it to assist them when life presents challenges.
  • Services are available to all people regardless of cultural background, family structure, economic situation, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status.

More information about the services and support we offer can be found on our website www.tas.relationships.com.au

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