On 19 August 2016, the Colin Biggers & Paisley Foundation hosted the launch of Women's Legal Service NSW new multipurpose report, "Sense and Sensitivity: Family Law, Family Violence & Confidentiality".
The report was written to encourage discussion between the professions involved in family law. It's victim focused/informed approach addresses the ethical and legal problems associated with accessing therapeutic records in family law proceedings, which often happen without objection.
Rosie Batty, 2015 Australian of the Year, launched the report. Stressing the importance of victims being supported by great legal representation, Ms Batty described her experience in the family court as another form of abuse by her perpetrator. For Ms Batty, the system expects the victim to take responsibility for their safety, and that of children, leaving them with no support. The challenge lies within the culture of the family law system. Ms Batty stressed, "this isn't about men and women and parent entitlement to children - this is about the safety of children".
Dr Garry Galambos, Chair of the NSW Branch of Psychiatrists, also addressed the launch. Dr Galambos drew a direct correlation between the abuse of subpoenas in the family court and the undermining of victim's therapeutic treatment. The lack of privilege over therapeutic treatment records in family court proceedings have resulted in psychiatrist and patient relationships being used as a weapon of abuse. Dr Galambos identifies a "competition to win [being present in the family court system] but children are in the middle of the war… the secondary victims". As agents of social change, Dr Galambos recognises the opportunity for legal and health professionals to join forces and advocate for better education of the issues within the legal industry, and ultimately law reform that creates a stronger privilege over therapeutic records.
The central objective of the Colin Biggers & Paisley Foundation is to promote and protect the rights of women and children in Australia and abroad. In line with this objective, Women’s Legal Service NSW is a priority community client in New South Wales.
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