Family Court hit by "unacceptable" two-year delays

THE Chief Justice of the Family Court has labelled as "unacceptable" delays of up to two years in hearing cases.

But in an interview with ABC Radio on Thursday, Justice Diana Bryant said she did not believe the family court system was in crisis.

That was a claim that has been levelled at the court system by several close observers in recent months.

It follows a parliamentary inquiry into the Family Court led by conservative MPs in the last term of parliament, as Pauline Hanson called for the court to be abolished in favour of a tribunal.

Justice Bryant rejected those calls, but said a lack of judges available to hear a rising number of cases had led to "unacceptable" two-year delays.

"We do have pressure on the courts and we do have unacceptable delays and we do have to look for ideas," she said.

"Being realistic, we're not likely to achieve significant funding from the government in the short to medium term, and we have to try and innovate with what we've got."

Justice Bryant said she had called for some "discrete and modest" funding to deal with the backlog, but that funding had not eventuated.

"(But) if you're going to put more money in at all, it seems to me it needs to go into the current system," she said.

Justice Bryant also said her most recent calls for more funding had come when the government was in "election mode".

"It's a complex problem and I'm actually in favour of people putting this on the agenda and raising the issue," she said.

"But I think we have to be fairly careful about not looking for simplistic solutions to a complex problem."

She said the problem was that a rise in divorce cases involving children was putting more pressure on the courts as was a rise in family violence cases.

Topics:  family court funding politics

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