Justice Minister Andrew Little has welcomed the release of the Independent Panel’s review of the 2014 family justice system reforms.
“It’s clear that the National Party’s 2014 reforms haven’t worked as intended. The recommendations provided by this report are extensive and require a meaningful response from the Government in due course."
“I thank the Panel for their considered recommendations and have tasked officials with developing a workable programme for change. I expect to receive advice from them by the end of the year,” he says.
The National Party’s 2014 reforms made significant changes to the family justice system, including introducing Family Dispute Resolution and removing lawyers from the early stages of some Family Court proceedings.
“These changes were meant to make things easier for families at a difficult time, but they have had the opposite effect. Cases are taking longer to resolve and many family members involved in the court processes say they are not well-supported."
“I am also keen to give close consideration to the recommendations about the need for more culturally sensitive approaches,” says Andrew Little.
The Panel completed an initial round of consultation between September and November last year – over 100 meetings were held in 15 locations around the country - and a second round between January and March this year. In total the Panel received over 500 submissions.
The 142-page report makes 70 recommendations, which propose wide-ranging changes to the family justice system. The principal recommendation calls for the development of a joined-up family justice service – Te Korowai Ture ā-Whānau.