Chief Justice Alstergren interview on ABC radio with Sabra Lane - Huge jump in urgent family law cases fuelled by lockdown stress
Interview with William Alstergren, Chief Justice, Family Court of Australia and Chief Judge of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. Lane understands a lot of families in Victoria, going through the courts due to divorce, settlement, and custodial reasons, are having a difficult time ahead due to the COVID-19 restrictions put in place across the state. Chief Justice Alstergren acknowledges the worsening family violence issues in parts of Victoria. He understands there's been a significant jump of urgent applications to the Courts between March 1, 2020, and July 31, 2020, and he fears the cases will rise a lot more. Chief Justice Alstergren says he has spoken with several experts like Helen Matthews from the Women's Legal Service regarding the issue. He understands unemployment has risen between 11% to 12% due to the pandemic, which could serve as a catalyst for increased unrest and violence within unstable families. Chief Justice Alstergren says families that are undergoing legal proceedings are ensured that essential services can be accessed by them. He says the Courts have launched several initiatives to ensure families, especially victims of domestic violence, get the service they needed during the pandemic. He states that the Courts continue to look at the backlog of cases, even before the pandemic crisis began. He says the courts continue to assess the processes of how such cases are handled in other parts of Australia and outlined the Lighthouse Project which will provide better risk screening.