Journalists who have questions relating to the Family Court and family law are encouraged to contact the Court’s Media and Public Affairs Manager regarding their enquiry.
The Family Court appreciates that journalists may be interested in reporting cases that are before the Court and on issues that are relevant to the work of the Court. The Court will assist journalists to ensure well-informed, fair and accurate reporting can be achieved, whilst adhering to the publishing restrictions under section 121 of the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth).
The Court operates within an open justice system and journalists (and members of the public) can attend proceedings (except in very limited circumstances). It is important to be aware however, that whilst details of those proceedings can be published, the identity of parties and others who are involved in those proceedings, as well as details that may lead to the identification of those people, cannot be published or broadcast.
Section 121 of the Family Law Act makes it an offence to publish details of proceedings or images that may identify the people involved. This is unless a Publication Order has been made or another section 121 exemption applies.
See: Missing Children
See: Missing Children
The Family Law Rules 2004 (1.19) state that a court event, such as a hearing, cannot be photographed or recorded by electronic or mechanical means unless approved by the Court.
The Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia
When reporting on courts exercising jurisdiction under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) it is important to understand that there are two Commonwealth courts where that jurisdiction is predominantly exercised. In addition, family law cases filed in the State of Western Australia are dealt with by the Family Court of Western Australia.
The Family Court of Australia is a superior court which has original jurisdiction to hear family law matters and which also acts as an appeal court from decisions of single judges of the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia.
The number of cases that are now dealt with in the Family Court, at first instance, represents a small percentage of all family law cases as the majority of parenting cases are now dealt with in the Federal Circuit Court. Since the establishment of the Federal Circuit Court (then Federal Magistrates Court of Australia) in 2000, there has been a progressive shift in the balance of filings between the two courts, with the majority of all family law parenting cases now filed in the Federal Circuit Court.
The Family Court deals with the most complex and intractable parenting disputes requiring substantial court time. These cases often involve allegations of physical or sexual abuse of children; family violence; mental health issues; and substance abuse. Other areas of family law affecting children that the Family Court deals with include domestic and international relocation; international child abduction and the Hague convention; and medical procedures requiring court authorisation.
Media related enquiries:
If your enquiry is not media related, please contact the National Enquiry Centre.
Media and Public Affairs Manager, Denise Healy
Phone: (03) 8600 4357
Mobile: 0409 743 695
Follow the Family Court on Twitter @FamilyCourtAU