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Location: Home Relationships Australia NT helping vulnerable families through dispute resolution - August 2017

Relationships Australia NT helping vulnerable families through dispute resolution - August 2017

A pilot program to assist families from Indigenous or Culturally and Linguistically Diverse backgrounds access legally assisted family dispute resolution will be trialed in the Northern Territory for two years until June 2019.

The mediation service, which was been formally announced by the Commonwealth Attorney-General, will see Relationships Australia NT’s Family Relationship Centre partner with specialists such as; interpreters, lawyers, migrant and Indigenous-specific service providers and cultural advisors to deliver targeted support to separating or separated families experiencing family violence.

CEO Marie Morrison said the aim of the service was to bring the family members, service providers and lawyers together to work through their issues in a safe and culturally appropriate environment without going to court.

“Often the most vulnerable parties in family law services are those who are victims of domestic violence for whom English is not their first language.

“The unequal power dynamics inherent in domestic violence, language barriers and the unfamiliar processes of mediation can make the process appear daunting and provides barriers to people wanting to access a family dispute resolution or the court system.”

The program is being funded by the Commonwealth Government as part of its $100 million commitment under the Third Action Plan of the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022 and will be delivered across the Northern Territory and at seven other sites around the country.

The service, including legal representation, will be provided free of charge to clients who are assessed as being suitable.  The program is supported by Relationships Australia NT’s team of Aboriginal and Islander Cultural Advisors to ensure that clients receive culturally appropriate support remain safe and find workable outcomes.

“The over-representation of Aboriginal women in the Territory who experience domestic violence is not matched by the same groups accessing mediation or court services,” said Ms Morrison.

“It's reasonable to suggest therefore, that conflicts regarding the care and safety of their children are not being resolved adequately. We are hoping this program can contribute somewhat to providing a safe and accessible environment for this to occur.”

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Media enquiries: Jeannette Button on 0407 727 080, jb@prbutton.com.au

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