New Zealand Law Society - Petition demanding inquiry into Family Court system tabled at the Beehive

Petition demanding inquiry into Family Court system tabled at the Beehive

This article is over 3 years old. More recent information on this subject may exist.

A petition calling for an inquiry into the Family Court was tabled with Parliament prior to dissolution.

An open letter was also given to all MPs, and to both the Chief Justice, Judge Sian Elias, and the Principal Family Court Judge, Laurence Ryan. The action has been organised by the Community In Action (CIA) group with the backing of the Backbone Collective. The groups want a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Family Court system.

“We are appalled at the lack of safety, accountability and transparency in the existing Family Court system as a whole, and particularly where Domestic Violence is involved. The Human Rights of children, and of survivors of violence against women are being breached by the Family Courts system every day,” they say in the open letter.

“We must have an Inquiry into the Family Courts as it is failing to observe and uphold the law surrounding Care of Children and Domestic Violence. Observing and upholding the law is vital in order to save the lives and wellbeing of thousands of innocent loved ones who go through Family Court cases each year.

“It is shocking that survivors of violence against women who have been involved in the Family Court system have not had their experiences of violence and abuse believed, their evidence was struck out, they were blamed for the violence and abuse, silenced, or their experiences were never responded to.”

The Backbone Collective has previously made demands of the family court system, with their research challenged by the New Zealand Law Society Family Law Section.

Labour’s spokesperson on Sexual and Domestic Violence, Poto Williams, sought leave for the petition to be tabled. After initially being declined by her colleagues, she and other MPs were eventually granted leave and the petition was tabled. 

“I felt it important that the women who delivered this petition, who stood in the rain and cried when they handed the petition to me, were recognised by parliament,” says Ms Williams. “I am honoured to have received this special petition and look forward to supporting its passage through the committee process.”

Other Members of Parliament present included Kelvin Davis, Nanaia Mahuta, Marama Davidson, Louisa Wall, Ruth Dyson, and Jan Logie.

This petition will go to a select committee in the 52nd parliament, to determine whether a Royal Commission of Inquiry will take place.