The Court’s Child Dispute Services (CDS) is responsible for overseeing the work of family consultants. Assessments undertaken by family consultants form part of the evidence presented in court proceedings. If you are concerned about the conduct of a family consultant, or the report or memorandum they have provided to the Court, the appropriate forum for raising this is within the proceedings.
If your complaint is in regards to a Family Report then the mechanism for doing this is by cross-examination of the family consultant. This is where you, or your lawyer (if you have one) ask the family consultant questions about the contents of the report and their assessment of your family.
If your complaint is in relation to a Memorandum to Court, prepared for an interim court event, then you (or your lawyer) are still able to raise your concerns within the proceedings.
If you wish to cross-examine the family consultant who prepared your report, you (or your lawyer if you have one) must write to the family consultant at least 14 days before the hearing in order to ensure they are available.
If you are seeking to have the family consultant assigned to your case replaced with a new family consultant, this can only be done by applying to the Court within the current court proceedings. You should seek legal advice about this. Court staff cannot provide legal advice, however procedural advice may be obtained by contacting the National Enquiry Centre on Live Chat, by calling 1300 352 000, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Complaints about family consultants, or the assessment they have conducted, cannot be investigated nor brought to the attention of the family consultant while the matter is currently before the Court. This is because the family consultant is an expert witness and doing so could be considered to be interfering with a witness in a matter.
Complaints should be made by email to email@example.com. Complaints about a family consultant will be directed to a senior CDS staff member for review. The senior officer reviewing your complaint will provide you with a written response. Family consultants work within a clinical governance framework, are subject to quality assurance mechanisms and are required to participate in regular professional development and supervision. Feedback by way of complaints can assist CDS in ensuring the ongoing quality of its service.