Families, policy and the law

Selected essays on contemporary issues for Australia
Collection – May 2014


About the authors

Dr Tom Altobelli was appointed a Federal Magistrate in 2006, and is currently sitting as the Federal Circuit Court Judge in Wollongong. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the School of Law, University of Western Sydney. Before his appointment, Dr Altobelli was accredited as a specialist in the areas of family law, children's law and mediation. He was formerly Special Counsel at Watts McCray Lawyers, and an Associate Professor at the University of Western Sydney, and is an experienced family mediator. He was also a member of the Executive of the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia.

Professor Fiona Arney is Chair of Child Protection and Director of the Australian Centre for Child Protection at the University of South Australia. Her career has been motivated by the desire to see children's lives transformed through enhancing the responsiveness of families, communities, service providers and systems to the needs of vulnerable children. She has led concentrations of multidisciplinary research teams in South Australia and the Northern Territory, prior to returning to South Australia to take up the leadership of the national Centre.

Professor Deborah Brennan is a Professor at the Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales and adjunct Professor in the Centre for Children and Young People, Southern Cross University. An expert in comparative welfare, family policy and gender and politics, she is the author of The Politics of Australian Child Care (Cambridge University Press, 1998) and of numerous scholarly articles on gender, politics and family policy.

Dr Leah Bromfield is is Associate Professor and Deputy Director of the Australian Centre for Child Protection at the University of South Australia and Professorial Fellow to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Previously she was a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Family Studies National Child Protection Clearinghouse. She is a well-regarded research expert in issues affecting child protection systems, chronic maltreatment and cumulative harm, and research to practice. She has worked closely with government on establishing and implementing child welfare reforms.

The Hon. Diana Bryant AO is the Chief Justice of the Family Court of Australia. She is currently the Patron of Australian Women Lawyers, and a board member of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. She received a Centenary Medal in 2001 for her role in the establishment of the Federal Magistrates Court and an award within the Order of Australia in 2011 for her distinguished service to the judiciary and to the law, particularly to family law policy reform and practice, through the establishment of the Federal Magistrates Court, and to the advancement of women in the legal profession.

Dr Claire Cartwright is a Senior Lecturer in the Doctor of Clinical Psychology programme at the University of Auckland. Over the last 12 years, she has examined the development of children's relationships with step-fathers and step-mothers, the experiences of step-mother families, the development of step-couple relationships, and the effects of relationships with ex-spouses on step-couples. Currently she and her students are investigating the development of step-father roles, from the step-father perspective, and the effects of negative stereotypes on step-mothers. Dr Cartwright aims to develop knowledge about step-family functioning that is useful for therapists working with step-families in Australia and New Zealand.

Associate Professor Judy Cashmore AO is an Associate Professor in socio-legal studies in the Faculty of Law at the University of Sydney and Adjunct Professor at Southern Cross University, where she chairs the Advisory Board for the Centre for Children and Young People. She has a PhD in developmental psychology and the focus of her research is on children's experience of and involvement in legal proceedings and other processes where decisions are made about their lives. She is currently working on the Pathways of Care study in NSW. Together with her colleague Professor Patrick Parkinson, she was awarded the Stanley Cohen Distinguished Research Award by the international Association of Family and Conciliation Courts in 2013.

Emeritus Professor Bettina Cass AO is a Professorial Fellow at the Social Policy Research Centre, University of New South Wales, and a Professor at the Centre for Children and Young People, Southern Cross University. She is an expert in Australian and international studies of welfare, family policy, family carers, ageing and gender. She is the author of many scholarly articles and reports on social and family policies, policies for children and caregivers.

Dr Phillipa Castle is senior psychologist with Uniting Care Connections' Clinical Services program, providing consultation, assessment, training and therapy to "at risk" and traumatised children and their families. A particular priority is given to children in the child protection system living in out-of-home care. Prior to this, Dr Castle worked in the Uniting Care Connections' Adoption and Permanent Care service. She presented the findings from her 2010 PhD thesis on mothers' experiences of open adoption at the AIFS and National Adoption conferences in 2012. Dr Castle also has a private practice.

Professor Richard Chisholm AM is Adjunct Professor at the ANU College of Law, a member of the AIFS Advisory Council, and the chair of the Expert Advisory Group to the Australian Gambling Research Centre. He was a judge of the Family Court of Australia between 1993 and 2004, and before that an Associate Professor at the University of New South Wales Law School, where most of his research, teaching, publication and law reform work was in the areas of family law and children's law.

Professor Rosalind F. Croucher was appointed to the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) in 2007, and in 2009 became its President. Prior to this she was Dean of Law at Macquarie University (1999-2007), where she still holds a Chair. Professor Croucher has lectured and published extensively, principally in the fields of equity, trusts, property, inheritance and legal history. Two of the inquiries she led at the ALRC concerned family violence: Family Violence: A National Legal Response (2010) and Family Violence and Commonwealth Laws: Improving Legal Frameworks (2011). Professor Croucher also continues her academic writing where she can, around the exigencies and demands of ALRC inquiries.

Professor Denise Cuthbert is Dean of the School of Graduate Research at RMIT University and a research team member of the History of Adoption project, funded by the Australian Research Council. She has published widely on adoption, especially intercountry adoption, in Australian and overseas journals. In 2009, she co-edited the collection, Other People's Children: Adoption in Australia, and journals in which her work appears include Social Policy and Society, Australian Journal of Politics and History, Journal of Australian Studies, Australian Feminist Studies, American Indian Quarterly and Australian Social Work.

Julie Deblaquiere is a Senior Research Officer at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. Since joining the Institute in 2008, Julie has worked in the family law and family transitions area, including contributing to the Evaluation of the 2006 Family Law Reforms and a number of national evaluations examining service provision to separating families. In mid-2013 Ms Deblaquiere joined the Australian Gambling Research Centre at the Institute.

John De Maio has been a researcher at the Australian Institute of Family Studies since 2008. His work has focused on family law and family transitions, including the Evaluation of the 2006 Family Law Reforms project. He has also been involved in evaluating family law programs aiming to improve collaboration between family law service organisations and assist parents resolve their post-separation parenting arrangements where there has been an alleged experience of family violence. Since mid-2013, he has been examining the settlement experiences of recent humanitarian migrants. Prior to joining AIFS, he worked at the Institute for Child Health Research, investigating the health, education and wellbeing of Aboriginal children and families.

Sam Everingham is a healthcare research professional with a background in psychology and public health. He founded the non-profit consumer association Surrogacy Australia in late 2010 to provide a forum for the many hundreds of Australian families accessing surrogacy every year. He uses his research skills in a voluntary capacity to support research and accountability in surrogacy practice. He engages with politicians, media, surrogacy professionals, researchers and many hundreds of families and surrogates globally through convening best practice conferences in Australia, the US and Europe for intended parents. Sam and his partner are raising two girls born via surrogacy and is the author of three books.

Deputy Chief Justice John Faulks was appointed a Judge of the Family Court of Australia in 1994 and appointed Deputy Chief Justice in 2004. His judicial workload includes first instance and appeal work and he assists the Chief Justice in the administration of the Family Court. Prior to his appointment, Deputy Chief Justice Faulks practised in family law and was President of the Law Council of Australia (1987-88), Chairman of the Family Law Council (1992-95) and President of the Law Society of the ACT (1984-85). He is currently the Chair of the Lu Rees Archives of Australian Children's Literature Inc. Board.

Professor Belinda Fehlberg is a professor of law at the University of Melbourne. Her research has included projects on spousal guarantees, pre-nuptial agreements, children's contact services and links between post-separation parenting and financial arrangements. With Juliet Behrens, she is the author of Australian Family Law: The Contemporary Context (Oxford University Press, 2008). She has a particular interest in how "law in books" is understood, applied and experienced by professionals and families.

Dr Patricia Fronek is Senior Lecturer in the School of Human Services and Social Work, Griffith University, and the Population and Social Health Research Program, Griffith Health Institute. Her research focuses on several areas, including ethical practices and non-traditional ways of forming families, in particular intercountry adoptions. Dr Fronek's work is published widely and she is a regular speaker at conferences. She was a member of the National Intercountry Adoption Advisory Group Australia, and is leading a national study on post-adoption support for intercountry adoptees in Australia.

Professor Alan Hayes AM has been the Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies since September 2004, and also holds a professorial appointment at Macquarie University. He has research and policy interests in the pathways that children and their families take through life, and the role of families in supporting and sustaining development across life, from infancy and early childhood. Much of his work has focused on disadvantage, with a longstanding interest in prevention and early intervention. In 2012 Professor Hayes was appointed as a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia for his services to the social sciences and contributions to policy research.

Dr Daryl Higgins is a psychologist with 20 years' research experience. He is Deputy Director (Research) at the Australian Institute of Family Studies, where he oversees projects on family wellbeing, protecting children, out-of-home care, sexual and family violence, family law, child development, disability, migrant settlement services, gambling, and closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage. He evaluated the Family Court of Australia's Magellan case management system and recently led the Institute's study of service models supporting people affected by forced adoption policies and practices. He has experience in both qualitative and quantitative research methods, program evaluation and translation of research findings into policy and practice.

Briony Horsfall, at the time of writing, was a Research Officer with the Australian Institute of Family Studies. From 2009 to 2013 she contributed to the Institute's child protection and family law research programs. She is currently a PhD candidate at Swinburne University of Technology, researching the participation of children and young people in child protection legal proceedings.

Dr Rae Kaspiew is a socio-legal researcher with particular expertise in family law and family violence. She manages the family law and family violence research program at the Australian Institute of Family Studies, specialising in the design and implementation of research programs related to the effects of legislation and dispute resolution programs. The conduct of ethically sensitive research, such as that involving alleged perpetrators and alleged victims of family violence, is a particular area of interest. Dr Kaspiew is also a member of the Family Law Council, and is on the editorial board of the Australian Journal of Family Law.

Michael Kearney SC practises primarily in the area of family law, encompassing all issues, including complex financial and parenting disputes. He has a particular speciality in appellate work in the Full Court of the Family Court of Australia throughout the eastern states and has also appeared in the NSW Court of Appeal and High Court of Australia. Mr Kearney is a Fellow of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, a Member of the New South Wales Bar Association, the NSW Bar Family Law Committee and the Executive of the Family Law Section of the Law Council of Australia.

Pauline Kenny has been a Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Family Studies since 2011. Her research has focused predominantly on the effects of past adoption policies and practices in Australia, including forced adoption and removal of children. She is the lead author of the National Research Study on the Service Response to Past Adoption Practices, released in 2012, and has most recently contributed to the work of the Forced Adoption Support Services Scoping Study (2014). Ms Kenny has a particular interest in examining service system and policy issues that affect the capacity for quality service provision.

Professor Gabor Kovacs AM is a reproductive gynaecologist, specialising in reproductive endocrinology and infertility. He is the Director of Monash IVF, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Monash University and Director of the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Institute at Epworth Healthcare. Professor Kovacs is an honorary consultant to Family Planning Victoria. In the past he has been President of Family Planning Australia and the Fertility Society of Australia, Chair of IVF Directors' Group, and Councillor at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. He has authored more than 170 articles, textbooks and books for the general public.

Dr Ben Mathews is an Associate Professor in the School of Law at Queensland University of Technology. His major area of research expertise is in children and the law, focusing on issues concerning law and child maltreatment, child sexual abuse, civil damages for child abuse, children and educational systems, medico-legal issues, children's rights, cultural violence against children (including female genital cutting), and children's criminal responsibility. He has conducted large multidisciplinary studies on mandatory reporting of child abuse and has published extensively in Australia and internationally, with over 50 publications. His research has influenced changes in law, policy and practice.

Dr Christine Millward is a family sociologist. Most recently, she has been a Senior Research Fellow in the Melbourne Law School. She worked in research at the Australian Institute of Family Studies for nearly two decades and was a Research Director at the National Centre for Social Research, London. Christine has a particular interest in social policies surrounding families and children and has a longstanding involvement in research concerning the effects of separation and divorce upon parents and children.

Professor Lawrie Moloney is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Family Studies and holds an adjunct position with the School of Public Health at La Trobe University. A practising psychologist and family therapist, Professor Moloney has published widely, mainly in the area of children, parenting and separation. He is interested in the theory and practice of dispute management and dispute resolution, especially within a family context, and in the practice questions and social issues arising out of what is broadly termed "family law". He was editor-in-chief of the Journal of Family Studies between 2003 and 2013.

The Hon. Nahum Mushin is an Adjunct Professor of Law at the Monash Law Faculty, where he teaches legal ethics. In June 2012 he was appointed to chair the Federal Government's Forced Adoption Apology Reference Group, and since 2013 he has chaired the Government's Forced Adoption Implementation Working Group. Professor Mushin practised as a solicitor from 1972 to 1980 and as a barrister from 1980 to 1990. He was appointed a Judge of the Family Court of Australia in 1990 and retired from that position in 2011. During that time he also served for six years as a Presidential Member of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Professor Patrick Parkinson AM is a Professor of Law at the University of Sydney and the President of the International Society of Family Law. From 2004 to 2007, he was Chair of the Family Law Council, an advisory body to the federal government. In 2004-05 he was also the Chair of the government's taskforce to reform the child support system. He is the author of numerous books, including Family Law and the Indissolubility of Parenthood (2011) and The Voice of a Child in Family Law Disputes (with Judy Cashmore, 2008).

Rhys Price-Robertson is a Senior Research Officer at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. His most recent research has focused on fatherhood, family relationships, masculinities and child protection. As well as experience in research and knowledge translation, he has worked as a nurse in the aged care and mental health sectors. While completing a Masters of Bioethics at Monash University he was awarded the Monash-WHO Bioethics Fellowship, which saw him work as an intern in the Ethics and Health Department of the World Health Organization in Geneva.

Dr Lixia Qu is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. She has undertaken research on a broad range of family-related issues, including macro- and micro-level factors contributing to trends in couple formation, separation and re-formation, and fertility decision-making. Her recent work has also focused on the effects of divorce on the financial living standards and personal wellbeing of parents and children, and parenting arrangements after separation (including allocation of care-time, child support and decision-making responsibilities).

Dr Antonia Quadara is a Research Fellow at the Australian Institute of Family Studies and manages the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault. She has been undertaking research in violence against women, women's policy and criminal justice policy since 1999 when she completed a thesis on the treatment of Aboriginal sexual assault victim/survivors by the trial process. Her PhD, completed in 2006, explored the adult entertainment industry, women's safety and public space in public policy. She was a lecturer and researcher in the Department of Criminology at the University of Melbourne from 2001, before beginning at the Institute.

Professor Helen Rhoades is a Professor of Law at the University of Melbourne. Since 2010 she has been the Chair of the Family Law Council, which provides policy advice on family law matters to the federal government. Professor Rhoades has published widely in the area of family and children's law and was the co-editor, with Rosemary Sheehan and Nicky Stanley, of Vulnerable Children and the Law (2012). She has a particular interest in research and policy issues affecting professional practices and service delivery to vulnerable families.

Dr Adiva Sifris is a Senior Lecturer at Monash University and is admitted to practise law in South Africa, the Supreme Court of Victoria and the High Court of Australia. She is the author of Children and the Lesbian Homo-Nuclear Family: A Challenge for Australian Family Law in the New Millennium, is co-author of Family Law in Australia and is co-editor of Current Trends in Same-Sex Relationships. She has written widely in the area of family law, both in relation to children and property, with a particular focus on de facto relationships, same-sex parenting and family violence.

Dr Kerryann Walsh is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at Queensland University of Technology and Co-Director of the Excellence in Research in Early Years Education Collaborative Research Network. She has researched and published in the areas of professionals' child maltreatment reporting, teacher training for child protection, school-based child sexual abuse prevention programs, and parent-child communication about sexual abuse prevention.

Ruth Weston PSM is Assistant Director (Research) at the Australian Institute of Family Studies. Much of her work at the Institute has focused on family transitions and wellbeing at both macro- and micro-levels. In the 2008 Australia Day Honours List, Ruth received the Public Service Medal award "for outstanding public service as a researcher and contributor to policy development, particularly in the areas of separation and divorce, family law, family relationships, fertility decision-making and child support".

Dr Sarah Wise is a developmental researcher with many years of research, policy and program development experience, covering a wide range of issues relating to children, parents and families. Her special interest areas are early childhood, out-of-home care and the engagement of social policy and practice with evidence. Dr Wise currently holds a joint appointment within the Department of Social Work at the University of Melbourne and the Berry Street Childhood Institute as the Good Childhood Fellow, where she works to integrate academic research into social systems and programs designed to support vulnerable children.